If you want to cause yourself some frustration, angst and general “I’ve had it with this !&#(%@ project” feelings, just build a wall and try to get it level in three dimensions. A project I’ve tried to get underway for the last two months finally came to fruition yesterday. I’m wrapping the front and side of our house with a small retaining wall, behind which I will plant various flowers, shrubs and even banana trees! I did a bit of reading about retaining walls and the most consistently repeated advice was “make sure the first course is level”. What I did not know (until I spent several fruitless hours on my knees, cursing like a trooper) is that in order to have a level first course, one assumes that the bricks/blocks being used are of a consistent, exact shape. This really helps. Anyway, I set and re-set multiple bricks only to find that they were level horizontally but not front to back; or level front to back but not against the lie of the land ~ very frustrating!
Eventually I came to the realization that I was not going to be able to make a perfect wall and that once it was set, planted and settled with some rain, it would look just fine. So I began digging a trench lined with gravel, setting the bricks of the first and second courses, filling them with gravel, re-grading the driveway and filling the bed with dirt, ready for planting. It took quite awhile but after fifteen or twenty bricks, I started to get into the swing of it. The wall still has a little tilt but overall it is not bad. Bob and I moved a bunch of gravel to make the driveway look better plus we filled the space behind the retaining wall with dirt, ready for planting.
Now I just have to start the other side of the house!