Over zealous Grading - I Should have known better
Our back yard was all woods - no grass - just trees and scrub and overgrown ivy. We bought the house three years ago and removed much of the ivy. Most of the rear yard is sloping toward the far eastern corner where it fenced and just outside the fence, the lot, like all of our adjacent neighbors, turns into a much steeper slope down to a lake. The area outside the fence has never been touched - all woods - and we intend to keep it that way. The west side of the rear yard is a gradual slope and never been a problem. The east side of our rear yard had a pretty steep slope that ran beside the house that was washing away into a deep gully and my concern was that it would continue to wash closer and closer to the house foundation. In addition, we had a 38'x 14' brick paver patio (set in sand) below the same size deck, supported by an unmortored 3' retaining wall on that same eastern sloping side of the house and rainwater has washed out the dirt support for this side of the patio and caused it to sink. My husband thinks rain coming through the deck did most of this damage so we plan to install under decking to keep it dry and more usable. When we pulled the pavers off and looked at the support underneath them and the retaining wall we found the wall had no rebar, no concrete footings, etc. I'm a professional commercial landlord with lots of experience and good contacts, so after discussing this with my building and grading contractors (who are not landscapers - AAGH - big mistake) we thought the logical fix was to rework the slope, redo the retaining wall properly and repack the patio area with more dirt and crusher run and then pour a concrete patio that will be stained. The grader came over and moved dirt around to pack dirt back around the house, built dirt up on the offending side of the house, buried new downspout pipe, etc. It still has a steep slope but its further from the house now. He also removed the rest of the ivy, which in hindsight was probably a mistake on that side of the house but it has invaded everywhere, including my neighbor's yard.
We repacked the dirt for the patio with new dirt and crusher run, put in rebar, poured footings and redid the retaining wall and I'm happy with that work. We'll install the concrete patio sometime soon. I still have to work out the area just outside this lower patio area and the steps leading down to THE PROBLEM.
Here's the problem: The grader called me while I was at work and asked me "While I have the bobcat out here, do you want me to grade that firepit patio you've been talking about?" Since I have 500 sf of brick pavers from the below deck patio, I thought we could reuse them there. So, I guess he gave me what I asked for. I told him in general where I wanted it bc there was already a clearing in the middle where we had removed some dead trees. I just didn't realize he was going to make it so big - its 20' in diameter and what really worries me is the way he bit into the dirt on one side that supports two large trees. I knew that any lower patio would require a retaining wall, but I didn't plan on having to build one 40' long and 36" to 42" tall! My husband wants to put in a waterfall at the tallest part of the retaining wall which will look great. This is where a landscaping plan would have been the best idea so I stopped all the work for this firepit patio to rethink and get advice on what to do. We covered the dirt wall with plastic while I rethink this. I've attached photos so you can see. My gut tells me that I should reduce the size of this patio and put some of that dirt back to avoid hurting those two trees (plus reducing the height of the retaining wall), but my husband likes it. I think it looks a bit like a bowl. I don't mind hiring a landscaper to give me an opinion and draw up a plan for the back yard, but I'd like this forum's opinions first. If someone can tell me how to directly insert the photos here? I tried to find out from the site, but it just kept directing me to link to photos on a website. Copy and paste isn't working.