03 November 2020

It Works!

Back in about April, I found out one of my friends had about six tons of dirt that had been dug up from next to their driveway so they could expand the driveway to make room for five driving and working teenagers. They had inquired about having the dirt removed, and it was going to cost more than anyone can pay during these difficult times. They asked if anyone needed dirt for free.

Our window well had been flooding our basement every single storm for about the previous eight years. The extremely steep backyard is made of clay, and drainage from storms goes right down into the window well. Lizard dug out the window well and resealed it at least three times, three different years. Within a few months, it would begin flooding the basement again.

For years, I have dreamed of terracing the backyard to try to prevent the water from streaming freely down into the window well. For the past two years, it has become more and more difficult for us to pump the water from the window well all night long during or after a big storm. Now Lizard can't do it at all. Something had to be done.

I volunteered to take the dirt from my friend, and my neighbors and friends volunteered (always safely distancing) to help move it from another friend's truck into our backyard with yet two more friends' wheelbarrows. I literally get by with a lot of help from my friends!

I bought rocks to cover the dirt terraces, and I filmed the rock delivery for my little neighbor who loves trucks. Boy, did he get a kick out of that!

The young men from my church (most of whom are serving missions now!) moved the rocks from my driveway to the new terraces.

My neighbors then began finding free rocks they would pick up with our little truck and huge plastic containers like what I keep my scrap fabric and all my yarn in and haul the rocks up into my backyard with buckets. I could help a bit, too, but I can lift only two shovels of rocks at a time, so I did not do most of the work.

I picked bricks I thought would make good planters to level out each terrace. I then put bulbs and seeds in each brick. The birds and squirrels made sure I kept replanting on a regular basis, so the variety is still constantly changing. I think I'll have more terrace leveling work in the future because a couple of places are still a bit steep, but I'm so excited to have a new "garden" with flowers I can photograph. And that attract butterflies and hummingbirds I can photograph!

I began searching for flagstone to make a walkway over what has been a swamp at the base of the steepness nearly year-round since before we bought our house.

Most of the rock shops were minimally staffed, due to Covid, and it seems everyone is trying to improve their landscaping while spending most of their time at home. So bricks and flagstone were hard to come by, and it took months of collecting before I finally had enough to finish the terracing and swamp portion of the project.

I did hit the jackpot on one trip home from one of Lizard's medical appointments. I filled the back of the 4Runner with 1,260 pounds of the most beautiful flagstone I've ever seen. All by myself! Lizard at that point could not lift at all. Oh, and my neighbors would come running every single time they saw me carrying flagstone into my backyard to help, so again, I didn't do most of the work.

I really had no idea what I was doing when I first began piecing the flagstone into a walkway. I knew I wanted the actual path to look like quilted flying geese triangles, but I didn't know the four bags of sand we used for traction in our little truck each winter would not be enough to anchor the flagstone. I had to redo my path three times before the flagstone held its position. Even though the flying geese didn't last, I still love the way the path looks now.

I had to buy six or seven loads of red sand to finish this portion of the project. I love the way it looks, and it holds down most of the weeds, too. I don't know yet what I want to do with the rest of the backyard, but I'm thinking there will be plenty more red sand.

Fun but frustrating was the stairway I built on the steepest part of the slope that did not get terraced. I needed a safe way to navigate the terraces when I water the plants in the bricks.

We've had seven storms since the project began. Most did not deliver much moisture. The window well has stayed dry. I wondered if it would contain the melt if we got a big dump.

12 inches of the white stuff fell October 25 and 26. No leaking. By October 29, the snow was beginning to melt, and the window well was still dry.

By golly, I think we've done it! I think we've stopped the flooding!!!

There is still work to be done. I'm not sure how much more will get done this year, but I'll probably still be out there on weekends when the weather is good, trying to finish up the next few inches. Oh, how I enjoy playing with sandstone! It's almost as fun as quilting!


  1. what an amazing project - it not only looks beautiful but is saving your window - yay!!

  2. Good help,any help is usually hard to find. You hit "pay dirt", on more then one level. That flagstone is gorgeous. I've always like rocks and stones since I was a kid. So very basic, and beautiful. You did a fine job with your landscaping. What are you doing say.....this weekend? Stay well. And enjoy your beautiful flowers.

  3. Wow, that is some gorgeous sandstone! Shades of The Wave on some of those pieces, and beautiful plant shapes on others.

    The terracing is truly stunning. What a labor of love!

  4. That is great that you had tons of help. Sure turned out great and it did the trick too, double win.


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