it wasn’t built in a day

I am a big planner. Executing said plans… well, that can be a bit challenging–especially since those plans usually cost a good chunk of change.

But after thinking and dreaming about what I would do with my little “hill garden” area for nearly two years (ever since I bought the place) I finally put my plans into action!

I accidentally deleted the in-process photos except for these I took with my iPhone:

It was a long process. I planned and planned. I made up a little sketch. I ordered a pallet of retaining wall blocks (20% off from Lowe’s! but man delivery is pricey!)… that then sat in my driveway for weeks.


My mom came over and we laid the first row, started the stairs, and pruned one of the evergreen trees. A few other weekends over the summer, plus evenings after work of fighting with the stairs, and then one last weekend in early October… and the stairs are finally complete! There’s still a lot that needs to be done, but I’ll need more blocks and more weekends.

So now, finally, some “before” and “after-for-now” photos! (I trust you’ll be able to tell which is which… and please don’t mind the leaves that need to be raked and the grass that needs to be mowed!)





We cut a huge branch off from the evergreen on the right, opening up the area below it. Unfortunately it exposed all of the existing black plastic. Gross. Hope to get it all taken out eventually and continue the retaining wall below the tree. I haven’t figured out what to do with the pile of rocks that used to border the base of the hill…HillGarden-3


One of the biggest struggles was dealing with all of the black plastic and landscaping cloth that covered the hill. There’s still a bunch left, some of which I doubt I’ll be able to remove entirely!



The other big struggle was the stairs themselves. We went with a “design as you go” approach. Thankfully it worked out ok, but only because my mom and I are good about talking things through and working together. I do wish that we had made the two bottom stairs have the same curve as the rest… oh well.HillGarden-4


Not too shabby. It’s not by any means perfect, and like I mentioned above, there’s still a lot to be done. Dirt to move, soil to add, more walls to plan and build, plants to plant…


But oh my goodness it is already so much better! It’s the foundation for everything else I want to do in that part of the property… and it opens up so many possibilities!

One of my favorite details: moving the rock that was right in front of the drain pipe to be part of the wall.


Mom’s idea. My brute force. Great results.


Would I do things differently if I were to do it over? Certainly. This was my very first retaining wall AND stair project, after all. I learned a lot. But the stairs are finished. And I am happy.

Now onto the next stage…


6 responses to “it wasn’t built in a day

    • Thanks, Sara!! I owe much to you! ;) Pretty soon we can go to plant sales and I’ll actually be able to buy things because I’ll have a place to plant them!

    • Haha thanks, Annaliese… the upkeep part is not something I’m looking forward to! Thankfully (I think) there’s still a lot I want to do… so maybe I can trick myself into doing the upkeep while working on actual projects? We’ll see!

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