Monday, March 30, 2015

My Landscaping Adventures- 7

This is my attempt to chronicle the progress made around our home when it comes to the yard and my many garden projects, which is a continual work in progress.
This week I'd like to show you some of the decorative vertical concrete we've done around the house.  If you've followed along you know I have two ugly retaining walls that  need covered and we poured a firepit that needs a decorative finish.  Today, we'll conquer one of the walls, the firepit and a pump house for the watering system controls.  I am completely enamored with this vertical concrete treatment.  There are so many fun applications.  Hoping to play a little more this summer as I get more of my projects around here done (and begin others, cause I can't get something done before I start ten more things, that's just wrong!)
Here are the links to previous articles in case you're interested:
My Landscaping Adventures  Getting started in the front yard and an island of rock
My Landscaping Adventures- 2 The island border and a preview of the back patios
My Landscaping Adventures- 3 Back lower patio, firepit and cantilevered staircase
My Landscaping Adventures- 4 Upper Patio, deck and the beginning of backyard plantings
My Landscaping Adventures- 5 Photos of the planting areas we've talked about so far and the beginning of the large bed out by the road
My Landscaping Adventures- 6 A look at the large flowerbed I've added out front, from a few placed rocks to planted berms and the start of a watering system.
Here's my monster retaining wall that desperately needs a decorative finish.
Let's get started:
All I'd done before this project was a few small practice boards with varying styles of rock to get the hang of it.  I opted to start in this back corner to get a little more practice in where it'd be obscured if need be.  I worked by myself for the most part so small sections at a time;  mixing, throwing and carving is a little much for my wee arms and lack of upper body strength. 
Before the carve coat even went on my husband, the boys and I formed up the rock ledges on either side of the waterfall area and a couple more "bump-outs" as well.  We easily mixed up and spread 60 bags of mortar as a scratch coat.  Lots of prep-work before the real fun could even begin.

This section under the stairs was a real "joy" to work on.  When I got to the lowest portion I had to be in the water.  Needless to say I spent a lot of time looking around for snakes (there's a large one that hangs out in the rock just to the right of where I stood).  The bass also hunt here, wow, I about jumped out of my boots at one point.  Silly bass.  I was sure the snake was coming to get me.
Now that I've got the carve coat on it's time to add some color.  Here it is all finished up.
Really happy with how it turned out. 
 Next, the little fire pit. 
 First, protect the finished surface underneath and add a scratch coat.
We also added a pump house for the watering system.  To get a full post on the process of building it check out the link, otherwise, here's before and after pertaining to the finishing touch of carved vertical concrete. 

This is how it came out of the forms.
And here it is with a carved concrete treatment and some stain.
Next time, we added a concrete "wood" walkway from the circle drive to the back patio, turned out beautifully, and last fall I completed the second retaining wall.  I'm sure I missed something along the way but that should catch us up, ready for some new projects this season!  Can't wait to share them with you. 


  1. @chirping frog - can you tell me why the steel ring has a 2" gap between the concrete? Did you fill the gap with something? Have you had any issues thus far?

  2. The 2" gap is simply a little added protection for the concrete. Just like rock that gets too hot near the fire can explode concrete can have some issues as well. My husband wanted to make the metal ring even smaller but I didn't want too large of a gap. We did not fill it in with anything. No problems at all.


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