Second trench finally finished

I appreciate I’ve been quiet on this blog for a while. Although I’ve been doing a few bits and pieces (planting some cosmos and parsley seeds, removing some of the decking, etc. etc. which I’ll post about later) the main focus of my time and energy has been the second of the two trenches for our new retaining walls.

And now it’s done! The trench is finished.

The first trench was comparatively easy: five metres long, 60cm wide, but only 30cm deep. But because of the original slope of our garden, and the requirement that our three terraces equally partition 210cm of vertical height, and a need for a 30cm footing… then the second trench, already twice as long, needed to be some 70cm deep in places!

The first five or so metres weren’t actually that onerous; although it was much deeper than the previous one, I made fairly rapid progress in late January:

IMG_20170122_152839_927IMG_20170125_143041_037

Along the way, of course, I discovered some buried “treasure”; the same brick “paving”, buried in the topsoil, that had impeded the first trench; plus an entire forgotten rotary-dryer stand embedded in concrete:

IMG_20170125_115730_840IMG_20170125_123104_855
IMG_20170125_122157_283IMG_20170125_123118_007

However, after I swung the strings around to measure out the second half, it started to get much tougher, as the slope of the hill meant that the clay subsoil began to rise to meet me:

IMG_20170204_105517_497IMG_20170204_141237_074

I had to put some of the discovered bricks along the edge of the trench, as I was digging out so much soil it was falling back in; the clay (with a layer underneath it made of flat rocks) started to retain water; I discovered another course of buried bricks; and the flat rocks, impervious to digging, caused me to crack my lovely spade:

IMG_20170205_145051_098IMG_20170216_095032_002
IMG_20170216_103824_038IMG_20170216_125259_344

After this last incident, Gwenfar kindly lent me a pickaxe, and I was able to make more rapid progress.

In the mean time, I had a few different builders come to talk about concrete footings, and we all agreed that I needed to work out: was the trench deep enough? So I put a wooden post in the trench, and using a spirit level transferred the height marking from the fence onto the top of the post, measured down, and put a brick just so that its top surface defined the bottom of where I had to dig to:

IMG_20170319_105409_507IMG_20170319_115154_340

With that in place, and the spirit level to guide me, I used scaffolding boards to slowly creep across the trench, digging digging digging; four metres; eight metres, nine and a half metres:

IMG_20170319_134956_4872017-03-19_06-57-04IMG_20170319_151305_148

And that was it! After perhaps 30 or so hours of backbreaking work, spread over several days, it was all done:

IMG_20170319_152735_319

I could relax:

IMG_20170205_150604_364

As could my workmate:

IMG_20170216_114441_612

But only for so long, as the original trench does need a bit more adding to it, for the footings for steps between the terrace levels:

IMG_20170319_152634_964

I’m half-kidding, though: that’s a job for another day.

Right now I’m just pleased that the main trench is done. I said a few times on Twitter (to try to bolster my own flagging enthusiasm, really) that digging down like this really did represent the nadir of this landscaping, the lowest point. And now it feels like, not only have I reached that lowest point, but that I’ve accomplished something major, that’s already lifting my feelings back up out of it.

Here’s to the future: to concrete footings; to breeze blocks; to mortared, rough stone walls!

Advertisements

2 comments

  1. Julieanne · March 19

    Quite an impressive achievement J-P, you should be proud of yourself. I kind of think you should give up Drupal and become the DIY guy that we are all looking for 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • J-P · March 20

      Yeah, but is there any money in it 🙂 ? [pulls pockets inside out; moth flies away]

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s