Knock down a wall to find a wall

Now that the garden is clear of most of the wood, there’s space to start thinking about the two retaining walls for the backmost terraces:

Garden elevation

The terraces will be as follows, as measured from the back:

Four metres, straight, from left to approx. 5m:
Replacing the existing, curved wall, this will support the orchard and greenhouse terrace. The bins area will slope gently down into the meadow slope without any soil retention.
Eight metres, straight, from left to right:
Cutting into the existing slope, and running for the full ten metres (with a gap for steps) this will support the growing terrace and the bottom edge of the meadow slope.
Ten metres, zigzagging to twelve metres under the decking:
This is the existing decking support, and will not be modified especially.

The backmost wall, unlike the existing one it will replace, should run straight: straight… through where the compost bins currently sit!

Taking a step back, then: the next job on the list is to level off the back-right corner, where the new compost bins can then be constructed out of pallets. Once this is all done, then the bins will be in their final position and out of the way of everything else. In effect, they’ll be the first completed bit of our new garden design. Even though it’s only a set of bins, that does feel quite exciting.

However, as soil from the corner is pushed into the body of the garden, it’s important to not bury the stones of the curved wall: after all, we’ll need them, to build the new walls! I want to re-use as much as possible, and this stone will be a big part of that. So, with the rubbish weedproof membranes peeled back, I started to use a cold-chisel and lumphammer on the curved wall:


All was going well until: what’s this, behind the curved wall? It’s a previously buried straight wall!


I thought that might be hard-standing down there; or maybe it’s even some kind of patio from the trace of red brick on it:


What to do?

Well, the first thing to remember is that we’re going to be putting a wall, further down the garden slope, and backfilling everything to the bottom of the gravel boards at the very back. So if it really was hard standing down there, it’s going to be close to a metre down. Also, we’re only putting compost bins here! If there are no surprises further along the wall, the actual content of the ground is somewhat moot. The main thing, really, is to remove as much stone as possible: we’re going to reuse it, after all.

Deep breath, and a couple of hours later; it’s all gone:


I was worried for a second that I’d discovered and then ruptured some kind of cable tidy in the top centre of that photo, but no:


It was a root of (I think) the long-dead Prunus I recently cut down.

Thanks to the discovery of that other wall, I now have a large amount of rock from this corner alone:


Some of the stones have been dressed in a manner that makes me think of the old mill workings I saw in Endcliffe Park at the weekend:


So heaven knows how old that brickwork is. It’s substantially different from the other stones, but maybe I can make that a feature….

I did have a go at the “hard standing” with the cold chisel, and it seemed to give to some extent:


So at worst I think it’s a pan; it might even just be subsoil, and can be safely buried. But I’ve asked on Twitter and I’ll see what people say. In addition (note that this is an earlier photo) there’s some progress above the wall too:


The corner is starting to level off, even if earth has been moved as much to the left as towards the house. And at least the buried wall has given me even more raw material for the new, straight walls. I just hope I don’t encounter anything else!

… After all, what kind of a monster buries a wall, behind a wall?



  1. Julieanne · November 17, 2016

    Bravo on getting all that done. Goodness knows what that other wall was from. I hope that’s the only one you find and it’s a bit more straight forward now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Winter textures | The next square metre
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