Surrey Landscaping: Retaining Walls
Summary: This Surrey landscaping project was a long one, half of which spanned over 2 snow storms at the end of 2022. We came back early January to finish off the other half. Pre project there was a lot of discussion regarding the Surrey easements and what was originally going to be a fully Allan block wall became an interesting mix of Allan Block transitioning into a Stack Stone garden wall. A few obstacles were faced but all were overcome with hard work and some problem solving.
A bold stepping down Allan Block wall retained the south side of the yard which also made room for a new garden bed area that will be planted this spring. On the north side of the driveway the yard was cut back and further retained. The area below the wall had a charcoal paver driveway extension added.
Due to concerns about the city of Surrey's easements in this area the plan opted for both Allan Block walls to transition to a Stack Stone garden wall part way through. These garden wall stones framed in the newly created garden areas on both sides. It was considered rare that Surrey may want to use this easement land any time soon but the Stack Stone would make it at least easier to remove or modify if that does occur. While still looking great the Stack Stone wall also brought down the budget quite a bit compared to if the walls had all been 100% Allan Block.
Mulch and 2"-6" river rock was also added for a low maintenance aesthetic finish. Minor yard releveling was done and our team will be back this spring to seed these areas.
Calm Before The Storm
This is the north side of the driveway. This rock and shrub garden area must go. The old stone ramp pathway will be replaced with a set of Allan Block steps leading from the driveway up to the front lawn. The garden area will be removed and replaced with a paved driveway extension. The front yard will be retained by a Silverado blend Allan Block wall with charcoal caps.
On the south side things are off to a good start. Fantastic machine access and the teams already getting after it digging a trench down the property line. A four foot Allan Block wall in the same style as the north wall, will retain the yard area on this side. The Allan Blocks will gradually step down before transitioning into a Stack Stone garden wall that wraps around the large maple tree out front and continues back down parallel to the Allan Block wall, creating a 4 foot garden bed space between.
Surprise Snow Storm
Warm weather quickly turned cold and we got hit with nearly a foot of snow all of a sudden in November! That pretty much put the brakes on any plans we had of building walls but our snow removal services stepped on the gas and were ready to go. Atkinson Landscaping offers snow removal and salting for strata and commercial properties. So while projects were on ice we kept our selves busy moving snow.
The snow stuck around in Surrey a little while. Checking back on the site the next week, things were improving but still not quite the conditions we needed for this project to resume.
Allan Blocks and Pavers
Back to Crushin' It
Once the snow was gone the team was back to it and tackling the north wall and patio extension. The Allan Block wall went in beautifully and they started screeding and leveling the paver area. The goal was to get the north wall and patio extension done before the holidays and it was off to a good start!
See the complete Allan Block Wall and driveway extension below. Click the left/right arrows to see the before photo again.
After the snow melt there was a lot of water left over in the trench on the south. As was discovered during excavation, the previous drainage system on the property had failed so to replace that system the previous owner had simply funneled multiple downspouts from the house roof and the shed roof out back into a central perforated pipe that ran down the property line. This hokey fix was buried and hidden until the day our excavator ripped it all apart.
What resulted was all downspout water now funneled directly into our trench. The ground was very clay based as well so the water did not want to drain whatsoever. While not a huge issue for the Allan Block portion of the wall up higher, this was going to be an issue for the Stack Stone wall built on crusher fines. At the very least, we did not want a muddy puddle area in the corner of the new garden bed whenever it rained.
The fix for this is going to look something like this. We will run the new drain line down the back side of the wall and fit this Wall Drain attachment to it. Installing a Wall Drain like this will allow us to move all the water out to the street where there is a city sewer a foot away. These attachments work great and they are a very low profile fix.
Another Snow Storm Hits
The South Wall
We jumped back in with the new year and carried on where the project was left off. We had a foreman change due to the holidays but he didn't skip a beat. We were looking forward to getting this project wrapped up and being able to finally see the finished product! The south wall went up quickly. During the project we were lucky enough that the neighbouring property allowed us to use their yard as it wasn't in the greatest condition to begin with. We filled in along our wall and top dressed the neighbours lawn and we'll re seed that a few weeks too. A nice green lawn for the neighbour will help make the Allan Block wall pop out, so it's a win-win. Big shout out to the neighbour, thanks again!
Stack Stone Garden Walls
Here's a few photos of how the Stack Stone walls turned out. Dealing with natural slope on the north side we kept with the stepping down style as to match how the Allan Blocks retaining walls also stepped down. On the south side we matched up with the step down pattern of the Allan Block wall and then kept it level around the corner towards the driveway. The results came out amazing. The low maintenance mulch and river rock are just the finishing touches to the curb appeal.
While a project like this can take some time and has budget on the higher side of what we do. Having so many people at Atkinson play significant roles in bringing it to life is as amazing as standing back and looking at the finished product! Any budget that goes into a project like this, especially in the front yard -returns itself and much more in the form of property value. We love that we can bring the value in so many ways.