Author Topic: Backyard slope  (Read 39409 times)

Offline Nazdreg

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Backyard slope
« on: November 22, 2008, 10:52:04 AM »
Hi all,

First of all, I have very little knowledge in gardening for veggies, and even though I can swing a hammer I have no experience in landscaping..... so here goes.

I have a slope in my backyard that leads up to my neighbors house, and I want to convert a section of this slope into a veggie garden.

I would have inserted a picture here, but I can't figure that out right now.... perhaps I'm not allowed with a low post count ?

Anyway, the slope is 18' long (the section that goes up towards the fence) at an ~30 degree angle, since we have trees etc. already I can only use about 20' width of it.
My calculations tell me that the 18' @ 30 degrees slope is ~16' horizontal and 9' vertical.

I initially thought of forming it into a "staircase" w/ basically 4 steps, each step would be 4' horizontal and 2.2' vertical.
The 4' horizontal could become a 3' bed with a 1' wide section to step on.

Does this sound reasonable ? If yes, how should I build the retaining wall to keep everything in place ?

Any thoughts, comment, or links are greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
/Rene

John Q Public

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Re: Backyard slope
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2008, 11:03:48 AM »
Hi Nazdreg,

I think you have the right idea of building a stepped or terraced garden. I would use landscape timbers or old railroad ties to build the retention "boxes."

Something like this could work, albeit on a larger scale:



On a totally unrelated note...I think that this is my 100th post!

Kara

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Re: Backyard slope
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2008, 11:40:33 AM »
I have a sloped yard too, only mine is in the front leading down to the road, and this idea of 'stepping' the garden gives me an idea about how I might go about doing mine. My husband just told me that he has a bead on some old rail road ties that might help. But I have to wonder how good those would actually be? Aren't they loaded with creasote? I'll look it up and see if I can find any more on that topic.

This coming spring, my main focus will be to landscape my bare front yard in a permaculture fashion...everything I put in has to be able to just come up every year and live on its own, with minimal help...fruiting shrubs and trees and such. There's a thread about Edible landscaping as a permaculture project somewhere in the Farm, Garden and The Land forum, but I can't remember what the specific title is just now. I'm hoping to keep up with taking pictures from start to finish and post them there next summer after it's complete.

By the way, congrats on the 100th post John Q!   :D

Kara

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Re: Backyard slope
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2008, 12:05:23 PM »
Here's a You Tube video that shows using whatever stone is lying around to make retaining walls with. I think I am going to try this out on my sloped yard...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxJM7xBTfKg

Also, I googled around and did read that creasote treate rail road ties are toxic, and dangerous is used in a garden where you grow edibles. Bummer.

Offline archer

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Re: Backyard slope
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2008, 06:18:48 PM »
Good find on the video!!! +1

Offline Nazdreg

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Re: Backyard slope
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2008, 07:05:19 PM »
John Q, that is exactly what I was looking for - I went to Home Depot today to collect materials for my compost bin, and talked to a guy about some 4x4 Pressure treated wood, but he warned me against using those as retainers for a veggie garden - they contain some chemicals that are not good and can get into the plants, so I'll keep looking for some landscape timber.

Wintersparrow - That video on the stone wall was really cool, unfortunately I haven't any stones on my property but I'll keep my eye on the local backyard projects - someone might want to get rid of something I can use.

Thanks again, I'll post some pictures when I have something to show off  :)
« Last Edit: May 12, 2009, 06:47:57 PM by Sister Wolf »

Offline DeltaEchoVictor

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Re: Backyard slope
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2008, 04:01:19 PM »
Unfortunately just about any type of wood product rated for outside use is going to have some kind of preservative chemical pressure treated into the wood.  It's going to be tough to find something along those lines, especially new, newer treated wood is typically very wet with the chemicals & it takes a year or so to dry.  I used to manage a lumber yard, in case you were wondering. ;D

As an alternative, see if you can find old barn wood.  It will have dried rock hard from standing in the sun for countless years.  See if anybody around you might have an old building or barn that they might want torn down.  Tell them you'll do it for the lumber.  If you're not into building demolition :D, consider looking around for old cedar slabs, boards or posts.  Cypress is another wood that dries hard as concrete & should last several years in the weather.

If none of those are a possibility then consider landscaping type stone or rocks, obviously the cheaper the better, if money is a concern.  You could even use the flat concrete pavers that are 1" thick & about 12 or 14" long.  They're pretty cheap & you could probably get a deal if you bought a couple of skids of them.

John Q Public

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Re: Backyard slope
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2008, 06:52:33 PM »
Speaking of concrete.......Cinder blocks are only $.84/ per block at my local Home Depot. That would work.

Offline ModernSurvival

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Re: Backyard slope
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2008, 10:22:42 AM »
You know cinder blocks have a lot of advantages.

1.  They are right at 8 inches high which makes one level a great height for a raised bed.

2.  They are easy to find so if you need more most home improvement stores have them so adding on will always be easy.

3.  While sort of ugly they are easy to paint and can be any color or look you desire, including dark colors to raise tempetures in cooler climates or light ones for warmer climates.

4.  Affordable at 16 inches in length it would take about 18 to make a 4x8 bed.  (often a very standard size) at 84 cents each you are talking 15 bucks a bed.  Heck going to 16x4 and you are still a good bit under 30 bucks.  The top soil will cost more then that!

5.  And now the Jack Spirko bonus item,  ;).   You know those holes!  Fill them with dirt and plant smaller plants in them.  That invasive mint for instance can be largely contained and you can add other herbs to attract beneficials, include some greens (beats, chard, etc) and even plant some marigolds, nasturtiums, etc to repel the bad guys.  Garlic and onion are a natural in them as well, just go one in each hole and you can even get the repelling effect around your beans and peas from Onions and Garlic with out the negative effects of planting them in the same ground.  Really cool huh?

Now can someone please explain to me why I used landscape timbers for my beds?  :P

Offline ejsandstrom

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Re: Backyard slope
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2008, 11:59:56 AM »
If you want it to last forever use RR ties. I dont know if the creasote (sp?) will leach into the soil. Around here we use alot of landscape block aswell.

Offline Nazdreg

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Re: Backyard slope
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2008, 09:49:26 PM »
At the foot of the slope there is a std. 1 foot wall of some interlocking concrete blocks, so I looked for some of these keyed stones to keep the same style of walls for the terraces.
These 16x6x10" blocks are over $4 a piece at the local Home Depot  :o .... and if every step/wall in the terrace are to be 2.25 foot high and 20 foot long I will need over 60 stones per step.... that is approx. $1000 for all 4 steps and that's too expensive, at least for now.
If I use the Cinder blocks I also need Re-bar and Concrete mix.... probably not cheap either, and I have to look at it every day, although I could paint them to camouflage them a bit.
I will probably end up using the keyed stones but only do one step first, get that going, and if I get exited about it then I'll cough up more for the next step..... but after I listened to the episode about Monsanto I really want to get started on this project ASAP.

Offline ModernSurvival

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Re: Backyard slope
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2008, 06:29:48 AM »
I will probably end up using the keyed stones but only do one step first, get that going, and if I get exited about it then I'll cough up more for the next step..... but after I listened to the episode about Monsanto I really want to get started on this project ASAP.

If you really are concerned with creating something that adds to your property value and does not overwhelm you that is probably the best course.  I would certainly do one at a time as you will get better and more efficient as you go.  You also won't feel over burdened.  That is more important then many realize.  I would also check for other sources of stone or perhaps other versions of that type of system that might look better.  I just saw basic unicolor retaining wall blocks at Lowes for about 2.50 a piece so that would be another option.  But indeed go slow and in phases, it makes monetary sense and it makes physical sense as well.