Digging Out

Ugly cracked, rust stained retaining wall

Ugly cracked, rust stained retaining wall

You might think I’m talking about digging out from all the snow, but no, we had some warmer weather (I can’t believe I get excited about 40-50 degree weather, but there it is.) and some rain, so most, if not all, of the snow in my neighborhood is gone. Yay!!!

What I’m referencing is how we built our new deck. It started with removing the ugly, stained and cracked retaining wall, along with the rusted and busted iron railing. It had to go.

This is a view of what it looks like without the retaining wall. It actually looks better, but mostly I think I’m fooled by the lovely spring green grass, and buds on our Rose of Sharon tree-shrubs in front of the old 8′ x 14′ cement paver patio.

spring green grass, old patio, no retaining wall

Our backyard in the spring without the old retaining wall

Ignore the fact that the back door is propped open. I don’t know why. I don’t have the photos of Tim taking the wall out, because I was in California for work, and it was a surprise when I arrived home. I like those sort of surprises!

lookee here

lookee here

Here we begin the process of building a new retaining wall that will serve as one side of the deck structure. This was back breaking work to dig out the dirt, but mostly clay and rocks in our backyard. Tim is amazing. We worked many nights until well after dark to get this dug out, and then framed, and the the concrete poured.

Digging out from another angle.

Digging out from another angle.

The photos below are for just rebuilding the retaining wall.

dug out retaining wall.

The newly prepared retaining wall hole. Squared and ready for many bags of Sakrete.

Ah, now we get to the messy part – the part where you mix bags, upon bags of Sakrete, and the moisture in the air helps the fine particles to form concrete boogers – such fun!

bags upon bags of Sakrete

Ah, Sakrete, my lovely, hated Sakrete.

Lesson learned about math, algebra and computing how much Sakrete you need. Here’s what they don’t tell you in school — It doesn’t actually work with Sakrete: your planning or your math, even if one is a mechanical engineer, like Tim.

Because even though you did the math, and thought you bought enough Sakrete, you have to go back to Home Depot 2 times because your truck just can’t haul all the Sakrete that you actually need.

We used a two man auger to dig the remaining 9 – count ’em 9 – 42 inch deep, and 11 inch wide cement holes that would become the pilings for the rest of the deck structure. Since I was “man” #2, there are no photos of this feat of messy, dirty, painful work. I am thankful there are no glamor shots of that escapade.

To ensure they the pilings were straight and stable, we used a product called Sono Tube. It’s made of heavy duty cardboard, and creates the right size round structure to pour more Sakrete into, forming the strong base your deck joists will sit on.

Sono tube

A round, heavy duty cardboard tube used to form concrete piling for deck structures.

Up next – framing the structure.