Staggering masonry retaining wall height and waterfalls

lynn_8989March 29, 2012

We finished paving the below deck patio today and I need to start making decisions for the 40 foot curved retaining wall for the fire pit patio. The retaining wall starts at one end at about 16 inches for three feet, rises to 24 for three feet, 30 inches for about five feet, 36 for about five feet, peaks at the center at 42 inches for about five feet and then starts sloping back down the other side in a similar fashion. I keep drawing it on graph paper but it looks like stair steps which is awful. Any thoughts on how to attractively do this? We have nice trees at either end, so I can't do much backfilled dirt at the ends. I think we have decided (cost pending) to install cinderblock faced with medium stack fieldstone and a cap.

Next, I'd like to put in a pondless waterfall at the top of the slope. It will come down the slope sideways a bit so we can see it from the deck above and then make its way down the center of the high point of the retaining wall. I don't want it to just plummet off the 42 inch wall bc of splashing and evaporation, so do I make that affected wall height shorter where the waterfall will be or eliminate that section of the wall all together? We're going to hire a mason to do the retaining wall and possibly a waterfall guy for the waterfall ( I just got a quote and almost had a heart attack on that one) but I think, after my grading issue, I should really educate myself on this before making decisions.

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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

From random photos

Someone please explain it to me how one can start a project that has so many elements and will cost a substantial amount of dollars without having some sort of a basic layout master plan before the shovel hits the ground ?

I can't even go to the grocery store without first thinking about what I plan to purchase and how much it might cost and others seemingly effortly can start carving away at the grade withous so much as a napkin sketch.
I must have some sort of OCD.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 8:53PM
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Now, now, let's not berate those napkins sketches. Many a time I've doodled on a lunch sack and handed it up to a dozer operator.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 10:07PM
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I thought this forum was for advice. Not snide remarks. I've read hundreds of various questions on this forum and have seen many questions like mine. If you don't have any advice or questions of your own, why are you on this landscape design forum? I didn't ask you guys to draw me a plan. I asked for comments on very specific items. If that's too much for you, then feel free to say nothing.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 10:31PM
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I know you've got other pictures on here, but I'd update this thread with a GOOD picture that shows area and the context. Maybe from the opening (bottom) of the patio area looking into it. Not too close up.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 10:57PM
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Most of us here would really like to help you lynn. The problem is that mere text is inadequate to convey to us the details of the landscape you have. Sometimes we try to guess at what might be beneficial, knowing that there is only a slim chance that it will be useful.

Photos of the site are always helpful and sometimes that is all that's needed to get responses that are appropriate suggestions. For those spending a lot on landscaping it really is important to do a base map/ master plan. While we can't do the drawing for you, we can guide you in doing it yourself if you are willing to expend the effort. With an accurate base map, the more experienced members are in a better position to give you better suggestions. In short, you get out of this forum what you put into it.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 11:05PM
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Sure, I'm happy to post pics. Will go out in the morning and take some photos from further back and looking up. I had no intention for this project to get so big. It all started bc we needed to repair a sinking brick patio with a faulty retaining wall that we inherited when we bought the house a few years ago. I think the project went off the rails bc of the bobcat. We had to tear up a large part of the front shrub border and remove part of the fence just to get it back there bc there is simply no other access, so when the grader said "what about that fire pit patio?" I thought I better do it now or never. Fortunately, in my business, I have access to skilled (and sympathetic) tradesmen, but they don't build waterfalls....

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 11:38PM
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It's definitely do-able to design and create your own waterfall but there's a lot of research to do before you tackle the back-breaking work and expense. I would be tempted to "get my feet wet" (pun intended) by incorporating a simple weir at your proposed destination in the retaining wall. Lots of kits available out there. And you could always add the rest of the downhill stream at later time.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 12:08AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada

d-d: LOL! I love that cartoon!!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 10:21AM
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Ok, I listened to you guys and hired a landscape architect. The good news: He said the two oaks I was worried about would probably be just fine. Suggested I get an arborist out to give them some sort of treatment just in case. He liked my crude self drawn hardscape plan and had a couple of great suggestions. He said the retaining wall isn't such a big deal. He said to save money, I should use Belgard type of pavers and stop obsessing over wall height and live with a step down or two. He said NOT to do my own waterfall because I'll mess it up. And he gave me a nice planting plan using most of my existing shrubs. The bad news is that he said "Those two oaks over THERE need to be removed before you do anything. They're dying. Cost: $1900. They didn't look so dead to me, but he told me if they are dead on top, they are going to be dead all the way down. What a shame because they are big and beautiful. I may post another question just about dying oaks...

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 4:06PM
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Sorry,Sorry,Sorry some people look so dead to too.But I misunderstand them sometime.I always answer you and made some the pics for you seriously and politely,include the retaining wall and the waterfall in the two other your thread.I would continue if you need.Sorry,some the members don't like that I always first one answer with many pics,I often wait,or is in other forum.So I don't find your posts about retaining wall and the waterfall QUICKLY in your other thread.
The case show QUICKLY be very important.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 9:22PM
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    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 9:27PM
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    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 12:09AM
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>I may post another question just about dying oaks...

An oak disease got all of my parents' oaks in Texas.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 3:29AM
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Designoline, I appreciate all of your suggestions. I don't mind at all so feel free make them anytime.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 8:29AM
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