Building a Retaining Wall, Front Steps, and Backyard Patio With Stone

Project: Basement Finishing and Family Space, Episode 6, Part 1



Bob is in Melrose, Massachusetts, where salvaged granite is cut, pieced, and set in trenches to create a granite curb that runs along the sidewalk. The old concrete walkway and stairs are replaced with granite steps and a fieldstone walk. Out back, stone walls are complemented with granite terracing and a fieldstone walk dry-set in a gravel base topped with stone dust and set with compacted pea stone. Ruth Foster joins Bob to recommend the removal of a “hazard tree” that is large, rotting, and threatening to the house. Cranes hoist tree cutters who cut the limbs and ready them for lifting over the ridge of the house to the chipper in the street. In back, a new triple-panel sliding door is installed after they remove the old windows and door, discover wood rot and insect damage, and rebuild the sill with pressure-treated lumber. In the basement, a borate solution is injected into the walls via plugs inserted every four feet to saturate the walls and sill and prevent damaging insects or fungus from attacking the home. Bob closes with custom trim that is replicated to match existing trim by copying the profile and creating a knife to custom mill the lumber.

Part 1: Building a Retaining Wall, Front Steps, and Backyard Patio With Stone

Bob talks with Nick Christy of Atlantic View Landscaping Construction about the "hardscaping" work being done in the yard. Christy explains how the granite retaining wall was installed in the front of the house. The antique stone used in the project was salvaged from the Danvers State Hospital. The stone still shows the old chisel marks. Christy reviews how the stairs from the curb were replaced with the salvaged granite. The walkway up to the house was also dug up and replaced with a bed of compacted stone dust and a top layer of small pebbles edged in steel for a more relaxed walkway. The stones used in building the stairs and retaining wall were dry set within a trench. The stones were cut using a diamond blade on a portable saw. Sometimes the cut pieces were flamed with a torch and the edges chiseled to regain the antique look. Christy reviews how the front yard was replaced with a raised bed. A natural fieldstone pathway will run across the yard to the back of the home. Christy shows Bob the work being done on the backyard, including the French patio being lined with natural fieldstones. The yard will have a gravel base with pebbles embedded into that surface. To prevent flooding, a sloped sub-grade was added below the center of the terrace and a perforated pipe installed and covered with fabric and crushed stone. This pipe should handle all the run-off from the hillside and carry it away from the home.

Part 2: Removing a Hazardous Tree
Part 3: Replacing Sill, Repelling Insects and Rot, and Installing Sliding Doors With Custom Trim Molding

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