Engineers and Contractors frequently drive around to check the retaining walls they designed and/or built, to make sure they are performing as designed. When designing and installing retaining walls, professionals take into consideration potential hazards. The list of potential hazards is extensive, but for now,we are going to concentrate on TREES.
So, you moved into your new house and want some shade in your backyard, or you want to add some value and luxury to your existing backyard. A beautiful Maple or fast-growing Fruitless Mulberry are just two of the many trees that do well in Northern California. But how close to the retaining wall can you plant this tree? Take into consideration a trees root system when planning out where to plant your tree. A tree will send down a “tap root”, which is a root that extends down as far as it can obtain oxygen. Once it has reached that point, it sends out shooter roots that grow horizontally. The myth out there is that the shooter roots will only grow out as far as the canopy extends. While this may be true for some trees, it is not true for most trees. Your best bet is to contact the tree professional at the nursery you are purchasing your tree from, or contact an arborist and consult with them. This is important because over time- if you plant a tree too close to a retaining wall- the potential for the roots to push the wall over is in direct proportion to the height your tree will grow to.
Now don’t get me wrong- there are trees planted close to retaining walls that have been there for years and will probably be there for years to come. But you should have that tree periodically inspected to make sure it is healthy and not pushing on the retaining wall, potentially turning into a problem.
When planting a new tree near a retaining wall, the tree should be a minimum of 2 feet away from the face of the wall plus the diameter of the root ball, i.e. a tree with a 5 five-foot root ball should be planted a minimum of 7 feet away from the face of the retaining wall. While a tree can bring comfort from its shade and beauty from its structure you need to remember to consult with a tree expert or an engineer before planting your tree.
Mike Blumenstein, Basalite Product Manager
Want to add an impressive seating area to your backyard? Build a stone bench to enhance your outdoor space, by following these easy instructions. In just a few hours, you will have a unique and attractive new backyard feature! The addition of this DIY stone bench can add a unique esthetic element to your garden, patio, or any landscaped area.
This project measurements reference Stonewall II Concrete Blocks. Other block products may be utilized. Contact your dealer for more information on products that would complement a bench).
PROJECT TIME ESTIMATE: 2-3 hours
Four, 12” stakes
STEP 1, PREPARE THE SITE
Stake out a 2’ x 9’ rectangle. Use one of your stakes as your starting point and hammer it into the ground. Measure 9’ in the long direction and hammer in another stake. Measure 2’ at a 90 degree angle from the two stakes already hammered in the ground. Set both stakes and make sure they are 9’ in between. To check for square, measure diagonally from stake to stake until the two measurements are the same.
STEP 2, COMPACT AND LEVEL
Once you have your area marked out, dig approximately 4” into the soil. Place and compact 3” of 3/4″ Minus Gravel as a leveling
pad for the base course of your bench.
STEP 3, SET THE BASE COURSE
To set your base course, lay your first stone 1” below finished grade, and level front to back and side to side. Start with a large and small and large and small, side by side to make a 20” x 20” column base. Measure 5.5″ in from one side, and place a large stone, then a small stone, alternating until your bench is 5′ 2.25″. Then, build another 20″ by 20″ column base. Fit for alignment and check for level.
STEP 4, STACK THE COURSES
Place a continuous bead of caulking on the blocks below. Stack additional courses, ensuring you have a running bond, so the block lines do not match the lines below. Check for level and adjust as necessary. Stack additional rows on the square to a maximum of five rows high.
Stack additional rows on the bench to a maximum of three rows high.
STEP 5, SECURE THE TOP COURSE
Secure the capstones. Use a generous amount of SRW adhesive to glue the top caps and five bench caps.
Questions about this project? Contact Basalite and we’d be glad to help you with your project!
Author: Mike Blumenstein
Sand is the glue that holds pavers tightly together. Whether constructing a patio with pavers or a driveway, it is important to construct a paver base. This paver base should be a minimum of 4 inches of a class 2 road base (available at a landscape yard), compacted to 95% Standard Proctor Density (or compacted until you are not able to make a dent in the road base with the back of your foot). (more…)
Featured: Basalite Artisan Slate Pavers in Positano
A paver project, when properly installed, can enhance your property appearance and value. The use of concrete pavers in the United States has become more and more popular due to paver flexibility, looks, durability and DIY capabilities. While this is not a project for everyone, most do-it-yourselfers will find that they can properly install a paver patio, walkway, or driveway, as
long as the correct tools are available. (more…)
Author: Mike Blumenstein
Spring missed us in Northern California. In some areas, temperatures have already hit the 90’s and our grass won’t stay green for long. But the lack of spring weather or reasonable temperatures doesn’t mean we can bypass our spring projects. Many of us will still be building our concrete patios or pouring new concrete walkways.
Working with concrete in high summer temperatures can be a real challenge. Excessive heat coupled with low humidity, direct sunlight and wind is the perfect storm for concrete surface cracking. Shrinkage cracks can occur when the surface moisture evaporates too quickly. Hot weather will also cause concrete to lose slump (consistency of the mix) and overall workability, causing the concrete to set too fast. On average, concrete sets up in approximately 4 hours at 80F. An increase of 10 degrees will reduce the set time almost in half. An increase of 20 degrees will reduce set time over 60%! While it may seem logical to add more water when temperatures climb, adding water can have a negative effect on the ultimate strength of your concrete, and can increase the risk of cracking. (more…)
Author: Mike Blumenstein
Installing pavers can add beauty, functionality and value to your home. Whether you take on the project yourself or hire someone to do the work for you, it’s important to ensure that the right steps are utilized and that no shortcuts, which can cause problems later, are taken.
The good news about these paver problems is that if you do run into them, there are steps that you can take to correct them. (more…)
Pavers for Pool Decking
Author: Mike Blumenstein
A backyard pool can be an important part of a family’s recreational time. A pool can create hours of outdoor fun, or a quiet place to relax. When building your new pool, you will not only want to consider the size, shape and depth of the pool itself, but what materials you would like to select for your pool decking. There are many options, but typically, pool owners select either a cement or concrete deck, or pavers for their decking needs. (more…)