Part 2 – The goodies have arrived

Very early this morning a truck unloaded all of the materials needed for the retaining wall. 

This delivery included:

  • 4 pallets of Sleepers (approx 60 sleepers)
  • A crate of post covers and post caps
  • approximately 25 posts, and
  • Cement mix to fix the posts

Soon after delivery, the contractors arrived and they they really got moving with and drilling the remaining post holes and fitting the first few posts.

The next few days will be focused on constructing the retaining wall and installing some of the drainage required. Should be an interesting week!

Part 2 – Lets go!

We have been waiting a very long time for this moment.

Today, our landscapers will be starting the job by running the string lines and starting with the drilling of post holes. By the end of the day the majority of post holes will be completed and in preparation for installation.

First few post holes drilled

A tonne (or 4) of Steel posts and Sleepers are being delivered tomorrow!

Super excited!

Part 2 – Scope creep

In a previous post,  I mentioned that the fence and concrete retaining wall at the side of the property will be installed as the next part of the landscaping work… Well, that plan has now expanded a little!

We will still be performing the works as outlined originally, but the job is growing so that the retaining wall continues the length of the side of the home and all the way around to the front. This increases the amount of retaining walls we will need to approx 50metres

This will allow the front levels to be brought up to match the backyard, giving us a larger usable space in the future.

It is also more economical to do this job in one go as the labour costs go up if we split the job in to 2 parts – bonus!

See the image below that highlights the original scope (green) vs updated scope (blue) 

Concrete Sleepers Canberra

Concrete Sleepers Canberra have a pretty good setup at their warehouse and the staff know their products inside out. Click here to go to their website – support your locals.

Some basic info on their products:

  • Each sleeper they sell is reinforced with 2 steel bars for extra strength
  • they make sleepers in 3 colours and plain uncoloured concrete
  • there are 7 different patterns above their standard plain / smooth sleeper
  • the sleepers arrive unsealed and it is up to the customer to seal them if they deem necessary
  • All sleeper posts are galvanised and come in various lengths (depending on how high your wall needs to be)
  • they supply fence brackets for seamless integration of Colorbond fence posts into the retaining wall
  • sleeper post covers can be purchased if necessary. These covers work to improve aesthetics of the retaining wall by covering the steel with concrete patterns similar to the retaining walls

Here are some photos of their display:

After looking at their range, we have decided to buy the sleepers with the Stackstone pattern in Charcoal colour! 

Concrete sleeper retaining walls


After doing a bit of research and a lot of help from my landscaper, there ended up being only two main outlets that supply cement sleepers in our local area. They are:

  1. Bunnings Warehouse – [Link]
  2. Concrete Sleepers Canberra – [Link]

Bunnings Warehouse

I visited the local Bunnings and had a look at what they had. What I saw was a good product at a reasonable price.

Pros

  • Good product range
  • Reasonable prices
  • lots of stock, no delay to deliver

Cons

  • No post covers
  • Short 1.5m sleeper lengths(ie need lots of posts to cover ~20meters) which would increase costs slightly and also impact aesthetics

Concrete Sleepers Canberra

I visited this company in Hume, and immediately noticed the quality and range beat out Bunnings by a fair margin:

Pros

  • Superior sleeper quality
  • Wide range of patterns and colours
  • Excellent display area
  • Knowledgeable staff (the owners work there)
  • The sleeper lengths are up to 2.3m depending on the type you buy reducing the number of fence posts required
  • Local business

Cons

  • Cost – more expensive per sleeper, and per metre
  • Steel posts are more expensive

So based on the pros and cons above, our decision will be to get all materials related to the retaining wall from Concrete Sleepers Canberra!

Although the cost is more, the quality is superior and that made the decision easy. We really want this wall to last forever while functioning correctly and looking good. 

Picking the right retaining wall

Ok so after speaking to my landscaper, I never knew there were so many intricacies behind a small retaining wall..

Basically it comes down to three main options for the material to create a retaining wall:

  1. Wood sleepers – A wood sleeper retaining wall is a cheap and effective option but id like this to last for ever + I dont think it would look great since it will be facing the street. Bit unsure of the value add too.
  2. Stone wall – id absolutely love to have a Stone retaining wall.. A few of the neighbours have them and they look great, they add value to the property and in general they are probably the best option for what we are  after. However the cost prohibitive, and it would totally blow our budget and leave nothing left to do the rest of the job(massive labour and materials cost)
  3. Cement sleepers – Cement sleepers cost lie between the Stone wall and wood retaining wall options. Concrete sleepers look ok but arent as nice as stone but they will  last a very long time. I am not very confident that would ad a lot of value to the property but it sure will look better than wood.

So after thinking it over, its going to be a Cement sleeper retaining wall with the Colorbond fence sitting on top.

We are going to head out shortly to see them at the warehouse so I can have a better idea on how it will all work.

 

Airport Open Day

Now for a change of scenery – a perfect day with the family, great weather and an awesome event. Our local airport had their annual Open Day and here are some pics we took while we were out and about…

Part 2 – Getting ready for some major work

Now that we have finished with the fence between us and the neighbours, the next job will be to replace the fence facing the street.

This part of the fence is about 19m long. there is also a very small side fence with a gate. Replacing that is the easy part…

What isnt going to be easy is correcting the sloping ground level which needs to be levelled out for the future lawn etc. If the ground level of the backyard goes up, the soil needs to be kept back by a retaining wall before we can even think of putting up a new fence.

Therefore the next job is going to be:

  • 19m of retaining wall
  • 19m of Colorbond fence(fence will sit on the wall)
  • Retaining wall drainage
  • Drainage sumps
  • 1 gate

Speaking to the landscaper, its going to be a beast of a job and will take a lot of time and effort to complete.

Part 1 Completed – The new section of fence has been installed

I didnt get to take pics while the gents were taking down the old and constructing the new fence(ill try and do better for future posts), so im adding some photos I have taken over time and uploaded retrospectively to support this post. It took 2 days all up to finish this job.

Day 1

The first day of the job consisted of:
  • taking down of the old fence
  • removal of all fence posts and post footings
  • the run of string lines to ensure levels are correct
  • the drilling of new fence post holes
  • excavation of a small trench for the sleepers that will sit under the fence
  • installation and cementing of of new fence Posts, sleepers and only the bottom rail
  • installation of approximately 70% of of the fence panels
So in summary, Day 1 was a very busy day where they completed approximately 70% of the job. They did start early and finished late but they made excellent progress

Day 2

The second day of the job consisted of:
  • installation of the remaining fence panels
  • finishing and capping the top raile
  • minor paint touch ups for any scratches incurred during installation
  • site clean up
Here are some pictures of the final result – before and afters included 🙂 I must say we are very pleased with the result, solid as a rock, straight line and we got some immediate privacy. Awesome!

The plan – Updated

A quick update before they start pulling down the fence. Working with my landscaper the original plan has changed to the following order:

  1. Install all fencing and retaining walls first
  2. Complete all earthworks in Front/side and back yard areas
  3. Install Paving, edging and foot paths 
  4. install instant turf, and finally
  5. wipe out and re do the front yard

The order has changed so that the major jobs are done first which will allow us to then move onto the smaller details. Hopefully doing the job in this sequence this will avoid rework(ie more costs) and reduce the time to completion.

Part 1 – Changing a section of the fence

After a lot of thought, several quotes from my landscaper, and arrangements with neighbours, all is set for the first job which will be to replace the existing shared fence with Colorbond.

In summary the fence will be:

  • 1.8m high
  • supported with sleepers underneath (to counter the sloping ground)
  • Woodland Grey in colour (Fence colours)
  • built with no stepping, just a a smooth line all the way following natural ground level

The pattern of the fence will be the same on both sides for consideration of our neighbour – like the one on the front page (Fence brochure)

Slightly excited that we are about to get this journey started!…

 

The marked up photos below highlight the area that will be replaced:

The fence is approximately 20m long
The fence that is being replaced to provide privacy between neighbours

Current state – The back yard

Photographic evidence of the miserable ‘back yard’ featuring amongst other things:

  • A weed infested lawn…
  • A useless fence…
  • A 60cm slope from house to fence  
  • a small useless cement slab for garden furniture etc
  • no shed (seriously!)

See how the fence provides little privacy, almost see through with the large paling spacing and low height (1.5m).

 

Current state – The Front Yard

Here is photographic evidence of the disaster that is our front yard…….. 

The previous owners really didn’t care much about it and there has been little improvement since the place was built about 11 years ago.

We are on a corner block so the front yard is in the form of an L shape which wraps around the front and side of the home.

We are taking this as an opportunity to start with a blank canvas for our ideas, but that means A LOT of work to transform what we have into something useful and appealing.

The plan…

We have spent a lot of time discussing what needs to be done and we have come up with the following list of jobs:

  1. Rip up and dispose the “lawn”
  2. Remove the top layer of soil and replace with fertile new soil
  3. Add instant turf
  4. create a zone each for the kids play area, lawn and growing produce
  5. build a garden shed which will help de-clutter our garage
  6. Replace the entire fence
  7. add some garden paths to get around the yard
  8. transform the front yard into something that is usable and aesthetically pleasing
  9. Slowly introduce greenery into the front and back yards

Its a big ‘to-do’ list so lets see what happens.

We now need to find a good landscaper that can work with us on turning the plan into reality.

A very sad state of affairs

Our garden is a disaster.

Ever since we moved in to this place, we have looked out to our “garden” (both front and back yards) and it’s just depressing.

Weed infested “lawn”, no landscaping of any kind, no trees, no veggies – a lifeless wasteland. The fence is dilapidated giving us little privacy. Because of all these reasons, the kids just can’t use the backyard at all.

Being a keen gardener, I really miss getting my hands dirty and seeing all the hard work pay off through the summer. I enjoy observing the transition between seasons and learning from each year that passes.

In our previous place, we had a very nice private little garden. There was greenery, productive raised veggie beds and we generally enjoyed a lot more outdoor living. We are all missing this greatly and want to try and get this lifestyle back for our new place.

Enough is enough!

Time to get this space sorted out so we can back to enjoying the things we love.

We have created this blog to share the transformation of our garden from the current unusable disaster to a beautiful green and productive UrbanGardn.

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