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Build diary - Garden!


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So I stop filling my HMS Hood build log with garden photos, here is a “build log” for my garden landscaping project!


Moved into our new house in April 2016. The garden we inherited sloped down front to back and also slightly right to left. The previous owner split the garden with a retaining wall and created a  raised pond abutting the retaining wall. 


The vast majority of the fencing is overgrown. The worst offender being the left hand in and out fence which has a well established hawthorn growing throughout with an additional bramble for good measure. 


Estate agent glossy shot (although bushes along fence obvious still)....:



Not long after we moved in.....: (Spot the photo bomb for bonus points!)



We didn’t want the pond and clearly the vegetation had to be hacked back......


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First stage of work was clearing back the vegetation. Big thick gardening gauntlets and some long handled shears and secateurs. 


The hawthorn was evil and twisted all around the fencing, with some huge thorns just to help matters. 


I did have a very very happy neighbour once I had finished though!


Also knocked down the old shed and chopped down the trees along the border of the garden. The other neighbour thanked us for that as they now actually get sun in their garden!







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Demolition kept on going and going and going.....


All the paving slabs were lifted in addition to knocking down the pond. And left us eventually with this. You can also see the second sunken pond in the corner as well. 


Of course there was a little rubble as a result.....





And a couple of skips filled....8ED5FFCF-0B12-412F-8E6E-FC68198220BB.thumb.jpeg.dec5f9a45e556374f97f45b72efce450.jpeg





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With the pond walls out we were now onto the next steps:


Demolish the retaining wall - this would be replaced by a sleeper wall in due course


Drain the small sunken pond and fill in - a new pond will be dug two feet further into the garden


Dig up the plants and roots along the rear of the garden - It was at this point we discovered how bad the “builder” who owned our property before us had cut corners when putting the garden together.  


The garden drops about two feet into the rear neighbours property. A good foot of the rear of our garden was being held up by the slats making up the in and out fencing. And these were clearly showing some advanced rot. Sigh!


So, a new job was added. I dug down two feet along 7 metres of fence line and managed to get down to the concrete lining that had originally formed the rear when it had been left to slope down to the neighbours. 


The solution? I decided on thick wooden planks (heavy duty joists) soaked in creocote. These would be stacked and bolted to the existing posts (safely concreted and very solid). Once bolted and strapped together they should provide  a very solid barrier. 




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Roughly where we are at the moment:


The fence has been reinforced with the thick joists and looking much more secure. Add a third happy neighbour to the list.


The sunken pond was removed. The “builder” struck again as we discovered whilst sorting the fence line, that the pond lining was nailed to the fence and almost being held up by the fence as well. 


The removal was a pig of a job as there were three layers of pond liner to haul up and half a foot of sludge and rocks lurking in the depths. Two frogs were provided with temporary housing in a paddling pool (they have since migrated to the neighbours pond). 


The hole for the new pond is taking shape and currently shored up with breeze blocks whilst the rest of the area is finished. A preformed liner will be added once ready. 


Currently, flattening the area and ditching any last traces of rubble. Then to be covered in 3 to 4 inches of hardcore to tidy the hole area in prep for a pergola and formal gravel area. 


And immenently will be starting construction of the new retaining wall where the old one stood, using softwood sleepers. 



Edited by jim_smits
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Yes, the extras budget has been increasing gradually! It has given me an excuse to buy more man toys though. Added a reciprocating saw and a compound mitre saw. 😬


The garden project has been in stages fun and infuriating...!! Hopefully I have now found most of the surprises. Once I’ve finished hardcore laying the bottom area I have got two fun tasks. Install the pond and create a waterfall, and start erecting the new wall using sleepers. 


For the sleeper wall im going to drill about ten holes in the existing foundation and fit steel rebar to help brace the wall and make it as solid as possible. Managed to borrow my brother-in-law’s industrial hammer drill to help with this. 


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3 hours ago, jim_smits said:

The garden project has been in stages fun and infuriating..



You could have turned that into a huge litter box but alas emptying would be a problem!


You have an inordinately amount of patience, and perseverance.  We need to see posts on your finished project it looks like its going to be very grand KUDOS. :cheers:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Nice work so far, Jim. I know those builders ... had one before me in my current house too. You start with a € 2.500 estimate, and end up with € 10.000 +++ end bill

So what are your plans with the bottom part, tiles or planking, considering the hardcore?

Edited by cog
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Let’s just say I’ll never hire the builder I bought the house from, if his own house is an indication of his ability and/or level of effort. 


Once the hardcore is all down, it will all get levelled and compacted to provide a nice level base and the add a couple layers of weed control fabric. 


Plan is to build a pergola with a decked footprint. The rest of the area will then be laid to gravel of some sort with honeycomb gravel base plates. 


Finally the pond will will be added with a small waterfall and a surround and cladding of slate rocks. 

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  • 2 months later...

Hello all!


A little bit of a gap from the last post. Combination of really poor weather and life getting very hectic; at work inheriting the project lead of an important but badly scoped capital project from a redundant colleague and also, but much better, finding out that we are expecting our first in October!


Still chipping away and just managed a really good weekend with return of the sun and warmth!


Rear fence is really coming together, with new boards, trellis and sleepers edging of the ground. Still plenty of hardcore to lay though. 


Pond is getting there with breeze block placed to line the hole properly and now getting the liner supported by sand. Need to test by adding some water but looking the part a bit more. 


Must get sleeper wall started as well!



Edited by jim_smits
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  • 6 months later...

As mentioned in my other topic the garden has got some serious delays!


However, before I was waylaid by the new crew member I did manage to largely complete the new sets of steps going down into the bottom section of the garden. 


Also managed to make a good start in constructing the new retaining wall. My new goal will be to finished the wall install before the worst of the cold and wet weather hits. 


Four layers in and another five to go!

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congratulations on the extension ... to the family. Good to hear you think to be able to get in some additional hours with such a youngster around ... you can always keep hoping ... ;) same goes for mild winters ... I'd rather have a cold one, the mild ones usually are accompanied by lots of rain ... Look forward to those photographs though. We have finished our rear garden after 10 years ... hope you establish yours a wee bit quicker

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So I did actually squeeze in a couple of hours yesterday afternoon. Nice weather for it, pleasant without being too hot. Joy of autumn garden work!


The steps are now upto 6 out of the final 7 to be completed. 



The retaining wall is now upto 7 layers and has now overlapped over the steps to allow the corner construction to be commenced. 


You can also see the start of the sleepers being used to line the pathway. 



Edited by jim_smits
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  • 7 months later...

Time for some updates! 


Sleeper wall has been extended up the garden to form the boundary of the new pathway from the house down to the bottom of the garden. 


Patio was extended slightly to square the lawn slightly better and give a nice flush finish to the sleepers. 



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