View Full Version : A Couple of 1st Yr Projects

03-27-2006, 11:31 PM
Thought I'd share a couple of our first year projects. We're heading into our second year of business. We're still not full timers, but are working towards it. However, we're a bit slow this spring, but we're putting out some flyers this weekend. Hopefully, they'll generate a little work.

03-28-2006, 09:24 AM
With all due respect Rustic ... the steps look terrible. You should have cut them in..those gaps are unacceptable IMO.

Why do you put the edge restraint right to the top of the pavers.

There may be a couple other structural things that don't look right to me.

Not trying to discourage you ...keep striving to improve.

03-28-2006, 10:53 AM
Actually, I agree with you on the gaps in the steps. We'll be switching to using solid block versus the angled block for stairs in the future. Those gaps will be filled in this spring. It was a project we were working on last fall and were not able to complete everything. We have some touchup work to do this spring.

We have the edge restraint about a quarter inch lower than the top of the pavers. How far down do you normally hold the restraint down from the top of the paver?

03-28-2006, 11:01 AM
Usually about 3/4" - 1" so that you cant see it. Other than the steps the bricking looks nice and level/straight. Good job no the less for only being your first year.


03-28-2006, 11:48 AM
Actually if you look at the third picture you can see so many deficiencies that I myself would not have paid for that job.

Looks like the last row of pavers are sloping back towards the patio on quite a slope.... there is going to be major washout along all of those steps... i'd give that job no more than a year before it begins to fail.

03-28-2006, 11:58 AM

I appreciate your comments. However, remember that this project is not 100% completed. The pavers you are speaking of, those slanting back, will be back-cut to lay down evenly on the back of the retaining wall block.

I would appreciate your guidance of the appropriate way to complete the step. Again, the gaps will be filled with cut pavers. Each step is slightly pitched forward to drain towards the stairway bottom.

We had three 4-6" rainfalls after the stairs were completed and they showed no signs of movement.

03-28-2006, 08:04 PM
I have a question. How many courses of retaining wall are buried in the hill for the raised patio???

03-28-2006, 08:30 PM
Those steps look badd!

I would not of used those tiny blocks to hold up that patio. Those tiny blocks are holding up alot of weight.

Honestly the average homeowner would proably think that jobs looks great. I just would of done things alot differently.

03-28-2006, 08:45 PM
Rustic to answer your question about the edge restraint......You typically lay your pavers and then remove the sand down to the gravel base on the edges. If you have the right amount of sand you should only be removing about 1 inch of sand before you hit your gravel base. You then spike yor edge restraint down directly on the gravel using 3/8" NON-galvanized spikes 10" long. Your restraint will only grab the pavers by a small amount.

You should possibly try to attend some classes on pavers and block to learn a bit more about them before you go out and try to sell that type of work full time. If you don't attempt to get out there and learn a bit more I'm afraid you won't be around the industry too long. No offense but the other comments you have heard here are true.

03-28-2006, 08:45 PM
Not to beat a dead horse, but......................:hammerhead:
Seriously, If that was your first project I would say it was a good attempt, but hopefully you learned what not to do. The people on here are extremely knowledgeable and are only offering constructive critisism at this point. Sadly, I do not believe you left that job with the intention of going back. So, I suggest you learn from the people here and use that knowledge in the field.:dancing:
P.S. I really like the design of the other 2. With the exception of the edge restraint. You CAN'T control the height of the restraint! It is what it is. It must be installed directly on the aggregate base. This will give you about 3/4"-1" reveal.


03-28-2006, 10:51 PM
Rustic, I would recommend that you don't take on another project of that or similar scope until you do some homework. Cosmetic deficiencies can prevent you from getting referrals, but structural deficiencies can put you out of business. We can see the cosmetic deficiencies in your projects and I'm willing to bet there are structural ones.

I'm not familiar with that block, but it looks light for the retaining applications in pic number 3. Is it possible to incorporate grid with that block? It doesn't look like it is.

In pic three, there is a fairly hard back slope behind the retaining wall to the left of the patio. What did you do behind and under that wall?

Also in pic three, there is a serious toe slope in front of the raised portion of the patio. What did you do to compensate for that?

It's a good thing that you're posting pics and opening your work up for criticism. That's a way to learn. I don't think it's a good way to learn about some of the mistakes it appears you've made on that project in pic three though. That is the kind of knowledge you need to have before even thinking about taking on a project that involves a retaining application.

03-28-2006, 11:24 PM
[QUOTE=cgland]Not to beat a dead horse, but......................:hammerhead:
Sadly, I do not believe you left that job with the intention of going back.

Chris, actually, it was our full intention to go back this spring to work on the pavers and finish the steps. However, we only planned on filling the cuts in the steps, not to redo the steps themselves. Sorry, but my intentions are much higher than you state.

I appreciate everyone's feedback, it's the only way we can get better. However, none of you are providing instruction of what will fail and why. The walls were built to the limits of the keystone block. We attempted to sell the customer (a friend of mine who doesn't like to spend but wants a lot) on using Compaqs or Standards, but he wanted to stay with these. After lots of discussion, we did as he asked. Maybe not the smart thing to do as a landscaper. However, like I said, the wall was built to what I believe Keystone specs for this block.

We have two courses buried in each wall. Can some of you that have more experience let me know how you would have built the steps differently other than the obvious ? -- not using those block but instead a step block with square back.

03-28-2006, 11:37 PM
Here is what we used as guidance in using these block:

From Keystone Walls:
Gravity walls are any coherent structure that rely solely on its mass and geometry to resist the earth pressure forces acting on it. All Keystone landscaping wall products and structural wall units not utilizing soil reinforcement are considered gravity walls by definition. Modular gravity walls rely on weight, depth, wall batter, and inter-unit shear strength to achieve stability. Larger units with more depth provide greater stability and can achieve greater wall heights as indicated in the gravity wall design charts in the Keystone Construction Manual......

Special attention must be given to the foundation soils and leveling pad construction when constructing gravity walls since the foundation provides much of the wall's resistance to overturning. Simple overturning failure can be avoided by limiting wall heights to safe working heights for
the size of Keystone unit selected and avoiding additional surcharge conditions. A simple "rule of thumb" is to restrict wall heights to no greater than three times the unit depth unless referring to design charts for site specific design recommendations. This "rule of thumb" leads to the following
rough guidelines:

Unit Depth Max Height Approx. Courses
Garden Wall 9" 27" 7 courses
Intermediate 12" 36" 5 courses
Compac Unit 12" 36" 4 courses + cap
Standard Unit 21" 63" 7 courses + cap

03-29-2006, 10:37 AM
Those guidelines apply to flat ground, no slopes, and no surcharged walls. Though you could say the patio is flat, therefore no surcharge, the toe of that wall is on a slope, which presents a global stability problem. If you leave yourself 7' to daylight at the wall face of the toe, in this case it could eliminate that problem. The other way to solve it is with Strata Grid.

How deep is the toe of the wall you built into the slope, and did you use any grid during assembly?

03-29-2006, 10:48 AM
Bill, does that block use a lip or a pin system?

03-29-2006, 11:15 AM
Bill, I'm down about a 16" -- 4 block buried in front wall, 2 on the back wall. We didn't use geogrid on the wall. However, if you think the buried block will not provide enough lock-in, we could redo the front wall and add geogrid.

Mike, the block use a lip system.

This is the help I'm looking for, thanks guys.

03-29-2006, 09:42 PM
I don't know if its just me or what, but those first few pictures don't look real. Looks like it is computer generated. :confused:

03-30-2006, 11:10 AM

I was thinking the exact same thing with the lower wall situation - global stability problems. Geogrid would help, but this looks like a fairly step slope, and knowing the soils in MN, I am betting the soil is clay???? Not to mention you are right next to a water source which is providing continual saturation. If this is not new embankment, the geogrid might do the trick - if this has been standing for quite a while and not slumped, if you grid the wall, you should return the global situation to the status quo. Rustic - what were you soils conditions when you excavated for the footings?

This is not professional advice - just my $0.02 worth.


03-30-2006, 02:48 PM
The soil was clay. We excavated, compacted, installed 4" of base, 1" of bedding sand. No soil was removed, then used to build up frontage on the block. All soil in front of the block is original, virgin soil.

I'll be pulling back to install geogrid. Again, this is a friend of mine and I am up at the cabin a few times a summer. I'll keep monitoring it for any movement. If the wall shows any signs of not holding up, I'll redo the wall and giving consideration to the toe of the wall, geogrid, etc. I explained the situation and points brought up here by each of you to my friend and he said he's fine with that. We'll be heading up there as soon as the frost is out.

We did this install for him for $5,600, so he is pretty understanding. Majority of excavation was done without equipment due to the slope with materials moved by wheel-barrow. However, we should have been more educated on the requirements for this job.

03-30-2006, 06:15 PM

It is good you have discussed the risk with your friend and you both have an understanding of what is involved. This is obviously lakefront property - but where at in MN - is it up north or closer to the cities?


03-30-2006, 09:56 PM

It is good you have discussed the risk with your friend and you both have an understanding of what is involved. This is obviously lakefront property - but where at in MN - is it up north or closer to the cities?


Elk River is right around the cities, 10-15 minutes. Not too far. NOt sure if the job he did is or around Elk RIver????

Rustic- Did you have to get a permit from the County to do the work on the Lakeshore? If so, did you have alot of problems for them to allow it?
Where was this job at?

03-31-2006, 11:21 AM
He had to work with the DNR and lake association to get it approved. Yes, it did take awhile to get it approved. He has to do some other restoration along his lakeshore -- natural restoration.

03-31-2006, 11:34 AM
My parents are living on a lake near Hibbing. Their shoreline is slowly eroding away and they have been talking off and on with the DNR office in Grand Rapids about rip rapping and such. I think one of their bigger concerns is trying to return the lakeshore to a more natural look. They obviously reinforce the idea of riprap, but they also push putting natural vegetation back along the edge of the lakeshore to provide a buffer between the yard and lake.