Laurel's Adventures in Home Repair
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Rock Wall Repair
and Other Concrete Repairs Along the Way

October 31, 2014 - March 24, 2015
December 2015 - May 6, 2016
 

 

October 31, 2014 -- The weather in El Paso is getting cooler and the monsoon rains have stopped.  It is now the perfect time to tackle yet another problem with this house....the rock walls.

The entire perimeter of this home's property, except for the front, has rock walls.  The height of the walls vary from 1' to 6'.  There are also retaining walls in some areas because this house was built on a slight hill. You can't beat rock walls to keep dogs in and to keep everyone else out.  El Paso has a lot of rock walls using the local materials on hand.  You rarely see a wood fence here.

The problem with rock walls is that they don't last forever.  Periodically, you have to do minor repairs and maintenance to prevent rock wall failure.  Either the rocks start flaking away or the cement starts to fail. 

Finding someone to repair rock walls in this area is easy.  There are a lot of companies that do this work locally or you can pick-up some men looking for work downtown to do the work for cash ;)  You take your chances with this last option.

We hired a company to do this work on all of our rock walls back in 2009.  A lot of this work has since started to crumble.  There were also two retaining walls that they could not get to at the time because of a huge rosemary hedge.  Thanks to our dog Roxie, who loves to break off bush branches, this hedge has now been "pruned".  The rock retaining walls are now totally exposed and need the most work.  The left wall will be done first.  I will be doing all of this work myself, to make sure it is done right.


One of the damaged rock retaining walls in the backyard

The material that I will be using is Quikrete Vinyl Concrete Patcher.  I used the same stuff to make my faux tile/bricks (see this project on this page) 

It is easy to mix once you get the hang of the patcher / water ratio.  You want the mix to look crumbly like pie dough.  But it will hold together in a ball if you grab it by hand.  If it is runny add more of the patcher. Only make what you can work with in 30 minutes.
For me, this means a lot of small batches because I work slow. 

The section of this wall with the most damage was the left corner.  Some of the large rocks had started to fall out in the past year.  I had saved the larger rocks.

After brushing all of the loose dirt and sand off of the area, I wet down the area and then started to apply the concrete patcher.

The only way to do this job is by layers.  Fill in the holes, stick a rock in place and put more of the concrete mix. Fill more holes, put on some mix.


Mix should have consistency of pie dough

I was actually working on 4 different areas. I would let the concrete patch set while I worked on another area.

I also worked on the corner section of the rock wall above the retaining wall that runs along the brick wall because it was damaged also.  There was also some mortar missing between some bricks that I also filled.

Most of this work was done with my gloved hands.  I just grabbed globs of the mix and squished it into the cracks and crevices.  When I do the finishing work on the top, I will use my trowel for a smoother finish.


Close-up of most damaged area of this wall


Upper wall started - Rocks placed in corner to build up area


More mix added and rocks placed in damaged area on right


Work so far as of October 31, 2014

The photo above shows the work completed for today. 

To get the wall to this point, it took 3 hours and one 40lb bag of the vinyl concrete patcher.  I will let the patch dry for a day before I finish this corner section.

Running total = One 40lb bags / 3 hours labor

November 1, 2014 -- Second day working on the rock wall.  The plan is to finish the second 40lb bag of patcher today and at least finish this corner of the wall. 

I managed to finish the corner and the section on the nearby wall and fill in some other cracks and holes along the wall.  With my last batch of patcher from this bag, I also started on the section in the photo below.


Another bad segment of this wall which is getting ready to fall apart


Work completed as of November 1, 2014

As I work along the walls, I am also placing the cement on all of the flaking stone and cracks.

Today's work took about the same as yesterday, around 3 hours.  I do sweep between each batch I mix to get rid of the debris on the ground.  This adds on to my time.  This is a necessity with the dogs who wander into my work zone.  They like to try and eat the cement mix.  After each day's work, I put some portable barriers around the drying patch areas to keep the dogs from bothering it.

Why don't I lock the dogs in the house?  Two of the dogs are teething puppies who have taken a liking to all of the house moulding.  If they are outside, I can keep an eye on them.

I need to buy more patcher.  After working on this section, I now have a rough idea of how many more bags I will need....... a lot.

Running total = Two 40lb bags / 6 hours labor
November 9, 2014 -- There were a few rain day delays while working on this wall.  So work proceeded slowly.  This particular wall is now complete.

I also went back and smoothed out the bottom of the wall where it meets the patio.  The reason I did this has to do with sweeping.  All of the little cracks and crevices made sweeping against this wall a pain.   So I added the concrete patch along the bottom of the wall and smoothed out the edge.  Scroll up to the photo above and look at the bottom of the wall to see the difference.


Work completed as of November 9, 2014


Repair also included dirt side of wall


Repair extended around corner of wall


Repair also included along stairs

Running total = Five 40lb bags / 15 hours labor

After the concrete patch material was dry on this wall, I added a coat of Quikrete Acrylic Concrete Cure & Seal.  I applied it with a brush over the entire rock wall.

I already had this product on-hand from my faux tile / brick project so I figured, why not.  It goes on real quick.  It helps to seal the concrete from water. 

A note about this Cure & Seal.  It does put a sheen on coated surface.  For my purposes, this was all right.

 

The next step for this wall is to "shrink wrap" it.  In other words, I am going to paint the wall.  OH NO!  I can just hear the purists screaming, "No!  Don't paint it!"

As for this wall, it is mostly cement at this point.  The rocks that are exposed will continue to erode.  By painting the wall with a good quality masonry paint, I will prolong this wall from crumbling away in the future.

I am using the same paint I used on my stucco walls.  To see how this will look, see the small retaining wall in the photo below.  I repaired this wall in September 2014.  It was in pretty bad shape.  The entire end of the wall was heavily damaged from skate boarders and crab grass from the neighbor's yard.  (The green you see in their yard is not grass, it is trimmed weeds.)

This repair job and paint has held up pretty good considering the day after I repaired and painted it, the house received about 3" of rain from a storm.

This wall was previously painted an orange color.

Warning:  Once you paint a rock wall ,it is pretty much permanent. It is very difficult to go back to just the rock wall.  So think very hard about this option before you actually do it.


Small retaining wall that was repaired September 2014.  Repainted with Sher-lastic.

November 11, 2014 -- After waiting 24 hours for the Cure & Seal to dry, I painted the finished rock wall 2 coats.  The photo below shows the finished paint job.  I really like how it looks.  The whole wall just looks less heavy and clean. 

The other advantage to the paint, is that any damage to the wall will be immediately apparent which will prompt me to repair it quickly. 

The type of paint used is Sherwin Williams Sher-Lastic.  The color matches the exterior color I have been using on the exterior wood and stucco walls around the house. This wall took about 3/4 gallons of paint


Repaired wall painted with two coats of paint


The next wall to repair in the backyard


Edge of damaged wall to be repaired

The next wall to repair is the longer retaining wall in the backyard.

This damage to this wall is primarily at the top of the wall as seen in the photo on the left.  I will have to build-up and reshape the top so it will match the wall I just completed.

I also needed to smooth out the wall along this edge of the stairs.

The hump at the top of the stairs also needed to be built up to match the height and pitch of the other side of the stairs.

Along dirt or grass edges, I removed the dirt 2-3 inches to expose the wall.  This way the repairs and paint will be below the dirt edges.


Corner of wall repaired.  Hump at top of stairs built up.  Inside edge at top repaired and built-up.
Wall along stairs smoothed out.

Running total = Six 40lb bags / 20 hours labor / 3/4 gallon paint
November 14, 2014 -- I took some time out from the rock walls on this day to address an area of the terraced patio that had spalled concrete where the aggregate was exposed.  You could not safely walk on this area without shoes.  Also, when sweeping this area, it was almost impossible to get everything.  So I spent the day patching this area and some surrounding cracks.


Badly spalled area of terraced patio.  Prepared area cleaned and fenced off.

What this cement patio really needs, is to be dug out and a new cement patio poured.  I estimate that for this would probably run in the $1,000's.  And chances are....the new slabs would probably slip and crack again over time.  So I am thinking of ways to cosmetically make this area more appealing after I patch up the damaged areas.

I also started resurfacing the stairs between the two rock walls I am currently working on.  The risers of the stairs were starting to spall.  I am going to do a faux brick treatment to the stairs (see this here.... )  The large cracks between the stairs and rock wall were repaired when I repaired the rock walls.


Patch done on spalled area

November 22, 2014 -- There were a few days in the past week where the temperatures dropped to freezing.  When it warmed up, work proceeded. 

I needed to finish up the faux brick treatment to the stairs (details here...) while working on the long retaining wall.  This wall has most of the damage along the top and also needs to be heightened to match the shorter retaining wall to the right of the stairs.  Along the far right end of the wall, it is not keeping in the dirt.  The dirt is ending up on the lawn.

You can see this in the photo below.  The wall slants downward toward the corner.


Faux brick stairs completed and rock wall work continues

I have completed about one third of this wall.

You can see in the photo on the right that the top of the wall that was damaged has been filled in and shaped.

This section of the wall was sealed and then painted 2 coats of paint.

Since many areas of this wall need to be built up, I am working all along the wall, building up small sections at a time with layers.  While waiting for one area to set, I work on another.

On the far right end of the retaining wall, the wall meets with two other walls.  This section needs a lot of attention which is shown in the photo below.


Rock wall along top edge repaired


Corner of wall where 3 walls meet

The corner section has deteriorated over time.  You can see that the elevated wall on the left was patched in 2009.  However, there is an indented section where rocks were missing and not replaced.

I am rebuilding the indented section.  One rock was already placed in at the bottom and I will rebuild up this area.

Along the top of the wall on the right, the corner is a crumbling mess.  More rocks and patch will be used to build up this area to the bottom of the fence.

This wall on the right will also be repaired.  There was a ivy vine here previously that died during a bad freeze, so the wall is now exposed.

3-4 inches will also be added to the top of the long retaining wall.
Running total = 12- 40lb bags / 60 approx. hours labor / 1-1/2 gallons paint  (this includes 1 bag used on spalled patio area and 1 bag used on the faux brick stairs)


Corner area being built-up

November 24, 2014 -- Work on the corner section of this wall is proceeding.

The photo to the left shows where I have added more rocks and cement to build up the corner.

I have also added a couple inches to the top of the wall.

The goal is to get this corner to be somewhat smooth, so rain water just runs off the wall.  I have a couple more layers to do.

For a few hours today I needed to shift gears to patch an area of one of the rock walls in the front.

This front rock wall had a bottom section badly damaged that I needed to start fixing before the whole wall collapsed.

It is not easy to see on the photo below, but several large rocks had gone missing from the bottom that support the rest of the wall.
I used a whole bag of patcher on this wall to start building up this area.  The holes were filled and several rocks were added.  I still have more work to do here and will include a photo when finished.  In the meantime, I have stopped any further damage and threat of the wall collapsing.


A section of a front yard rock wall that needed immediate attention

Running total = 15- 40lb bags / 70 approx. hours labor / 1-1/2 gallons paint  (this includes 1 bag used on spalled patio area and 1 bag used on the faux brick stairs)
November 27, 2014 -- Yes, this was Thanksgiving.  I work everyday when the weather is good.

The corner section pictured at right was finally smoothed out.  Or about as smooth as you can get a rock wall.

I still need to work on the area behind the pole which is being built-up a little every day.  I am filling in concrete between the pole and the wall.  The reason for this is trash and water.  Trash gets blown in behind the pole.  When it rains, water gets trapped in all of the nooks and crannies.

Starting on the bottom I am working my way up stuffing the concrete in the cracks.

I finished the top edge of the long backyard retaining wall.
As seen in the photo below.  It took a while to increase the height and then smooth everything out.


 


Corner area now done.  Still working behind pole.


Top along long wall repaired

I filled in all of the other cracks and holes on the side of the wall.

The Cure & Seal was applied to the wall and the wall was then painted.

The photo below shows the now repaired and painted backyard retaining walls.

After the paint had dried, I moved the soil back that I had moved away from the wall before repairs.

The corner area had a lot of rubble.  Basically, chunks of cement that had chipped off of the upper walls over the years.  There will be a struggle next week rolling my trash bin, full of rocks, to the street.

I am doing some repairs to the tall wall to the right of the corner section.  I am only going as far as the first pole. 

 


Long retaining wall finally repaired and painted

This long 6 foot tall wall which goes along the back of the backyard, (see photo above, far right). is not in too bad of shape.  It needs some work.  The other side of the wall is in a commercial lot and is about 9 feet tall on that side.  I need to drive over to where the back of the lot is, to inspect it.

If this wall needs work, I will have to take my ladder there, run a hose over the wall, and set-up my cement mixing station in the back of my SUV.  It will be a hassle.

In the meantime, I will continue along the upper south terrace wall.  This wall has also sunk down toward the corner, which means I will have to build-up this wall.  This job will be complicated by the bottom of the neighbors chain link fence, where they have attached a privacy screen.


Next wall to work on. On top of terrace patio, South terrace wall.

November 29, 2014 -- On the south terrace wall, I dug down below the wall around 5" so that my repairs would be below the soil line.  I worked on this bottom area first because I wanted to have this area complete and the soil back to being level, before I started working on the top of the wall.  This was for safety reason.  I need a level work area to avoid falling.

After repairing the wall and a part of the spalled patio, I applied the Cure & Seal.  I then painted this lower section of the wall to further waterproof it before moving the dirt back into place.


South terrace wall repairs done to bottom below soil line.  Painted before moving soil back.

While I was waiting for the application of Cure & Seal to dry, I worked on the section of the 6' wall and finished most of it, up to the first pole.  On close inspection of this wall, there are some additional areas with cracks that need to be filled.  I will fill some of these while I work on the terrace walls.


Part of 6' wall along back end of backyard... before repair


Part of 6' wall... after repair - Scroll all the way to the bottom to see pictures of this section of wall completely covered with cement in 2016.

November 30, 2014 -- After moving the soil back at the bottom of the south terrace wall corner, I looked at the top of the wall.  There is a small connection of the wall with the neighbor's monster 12' tall x 2' thick wall.  The top part of the connection between our two walls has basically crumbled away.

What you see in the photo below, is after I cleaned up all of the branches, leaves, and cracked concrete rubble.  The large chunk you see in the photo is secure.  The goal here is to rebuild this section through the chain link fence and up to the top of my wall.  In addition, this wall will be heightened a few inches so it is even with the rest of the wall.


Corner of south terrace wall where it meets neighbor's wall on the other side of chain link fence

Running total = 18- 40lb bags / 114 approx. hours labor / 2-1/2 gallons paint  (this includes 1 bag used on spalled patio area and 1 bag used on the faux brick stairs)
December 1, 2014 -- After two bags of cement, it is beginning to look like I am getting somewhere with this wall.

Yesterday I added cement to the section where the walls meet through the chain link fence. 

Since this section of the wall needs to have the height increased by as much as 6" in areas, I also need to add cement to the the sides to compensate for the height increase.  To prepare for this, I add cement along the bottom where the wall starts to angle to a point.  On each glob of cement, I create a small ledge on top to catch the other layers of cement that will be going on top of it.  I let this set before adding the rest of the cement.  You can see this on the photo to the right along where the chain link fence is.

Today I finished smoothing out the wall joint area and continued layering the cement.


Building up corner and ledge added to fence side

The photo below shows the results after finishing the second bag.  You can see the different layers as I build-up the wall height.


Build-up of rock wall continues in layers

Running total = 23- 40lb bags / 127 approx. hours labor / 2-1/2 gallons paint  (this includes 1 bag used on spalled patio area and 1 bag used on the faux brick stairs)
December 2, 2014 -- Work on the south terrace wall continues.  The photo on the right shows the wall after 4 bags of concrete.  This section of the wall is now about 5" higher at the lowest point.


December 3, 2014 -- I placed the Cure & Seal on the section of the 6' wall section I finished and the south terrace wall up to the patio edge.

Work continued on the south terrace wall. Another 4 feet was completed.

At the end of the day I placed a coat of paint on the section of the wall up to the patio edge.

December 4, 2014 -- Rain was in the forecast today so I spent the day fencing off the entire terrace area from the dogs.

No more dogs jumping on the walls and "pruning" the bushes.


Section of south terrace wall after 4 bags


Section of south terrace wall work continues.  Painted up to patio edge.

Running total = 25- 40lb bags / 141 approx. hours labor / 2-3/4 gallons paint  (this includes 1 bag used on spalled patio area and 1 bag used on the faux brick stairs)
December 8, 2014 -- The south terrace patio wall is now complete.  I have started on the east terrace patio wall.  Most of the damage is along the top and some areas behind a grapevine that are in pretty bad shape.


South terrace patio wall repaired and painted

When I hit the corner of this wall, I added a little wall decoration to the corner.

Hey, for all of the hard labor I am putting into the walls, I am going to own it!

I just made a little hump shape and then added my initials.

I am also placing paint on the neighbor's side of the wall.  Even though this is technically their side of the wall, they do not have access to it nor can they see it because of the privacy screen.

On our side of the wall, you can see part of the other side.  Since I used my cement to make these repairs, I am going to paint it to protect the cement.


Corner decoration added to wall


East terrace patio wall partially repaired on top

The photo on the left shows a part of the east terrace patio wall. 

Work on this wall is complicated by the neighbor's fence and water pipe.  I have to keep pushing them out of the way to get my hands underneath.

There is also a grapevine on my side which I move out the way when I get to it.

December 14, 2014 -- Work is continuing along the east terrace patio wall.

There was extensive damage to the wall behind the grape vine that took several days of layering to complete.

I was finally able to move the grape vine back over to the right.  Believe it or not, this vine used to cover the entire wall and the fence.  A bad freeze in 2011 wiped out most of the vine.  Some of the old vine branches grew into the fence which is why you see some still stuck on it.
Running total = 30- 40lb bags / 172 approx. hours labor / 3 gallons paint  (this includes 1 bag used on spalled patio area and 1 bag used on the faux brick stairs)
The neighbor needs to make some cuts on his side to remove them.  I did everything I could on my side.  But wait....the idiot put up the privacy screen, so I am now stuck looking at the old branches. Sigh....

I also took some time to do a faux brick treatment to the plant holes against the wall.  To see how I did this, please go to this page....

The huge cracks on the patio were also filled up.  I will be doing a faux flagstone treatment to the whole patio at a later date.

I am hoping to finish the east terrace patio wall before colder temperatures put my work on hold.

December 31, 2014 --  Despite much colder weather, I am continuing to work on the rock wall.  It is a guessing game, between the varying weather forecasts, to pick days to work where the evening temperatures remain above freezing.


Work continuing on east terrace patio wall

I also needed to find the right combination of layered clothing that kept me warm but allowed me to roll-up my sleeves above my elbow so my plastic gloves stay on.  I did this with a combination of sleeveless garments under a hooded sweatshirt.


 East terrace patio wall on December 18, 2014

Each time I come to an inside corner in the walls, a couple of days are spent building up the corners.  All of the corners are concave.  Not only does this make the wall look weaker, it is just "off looking" to me.  These sunk-in areas also hold water and collect debris.  So I am taking extra time and cement to make these inside corners better.


 East terrace patio wall corner.  Right side repaired. Building up inside corner behind grape vine.

When I got to the end of the east terrace wall, I came to the gate latch pole.  This pole, that constantly worked itself loose in the past, was sitting in a mound of piled concrete that resembled a volcano. (I neglected to get a photo of this concrete monstrosity. My apologies.)


 East terrace wall finished along with pole base replaced. Small electric meter wall repaired.


New base made for gate latch pole

After chipping away at the "volcano" and removing all of the concrete, I removed the pole.  The bottom section of the pole was rusted.  So I cut off the rusted section.  I then cleaned out the pole hole which only goes down about 4" before it hits a huge rock, reinserted the pole and built a new more aesthetically looking base.

Yes, the pole is shorter than the other side.  Which is ok for now.  The latch catches on the pole just fine.  I may go back later and shorten the other side to make the poles even.

The east terrace rock walls are now complete.  I still need to create the faux bricks around three plant holes which I will go back and do when I have a longer stretch of above freezing temperatures.  For now, the dirt has been moved away from the hole rims and the decorative river rocks separated from the soil.

 


 East terrace wall complete.  Three plant rings left to add faux bricks to.

I then completed the short electric meter wall on both sides.  I also put some cement wedges in the corners in the area under the meter to help keep dust and water away from the corners.  This little area catches all kinds of debris when there are winds.  The wedges will make it easier to sweep.


Electric meter wall repaired


Electric meter wall painted

Continuing along the east side of the house, I am now working on the East Wall.  Again I have another inside corner that is concave.  An entire day was spent working on this short section of the wall. 


East wall repairs continue on December 29, 2014. Building up top section and inside corner.


East wall short wall completed on December 30, 2014. Inside corner is no longer concave.

The next wall to complete is pictured below.  I pruned the three plants along the wall a couple of weeks ago.  I am still waiting for my pomegranate and Arizona ash tree to finish dropping their leaves.  It is hard to see, but this wall has a bunch of large cracks.  If I can finish this wall this winter, I will be one happy camper.


The rest of east wall that I need to work on

Running total = 45- 40lb bags / 280 approx. hours labor / 6 gallons paint  (this includes 1 bag used on spalled patio area,1 bag used on the faux brick stairs, 1-1/2 bags used on plant hole faux bricks and patio cracks)
January 9, 2015 --  Work continues along the east wall.  In this section the rocks are more eroded.  In some areas, the rocks have lost as much as 2-3 inches.  Which means, after chipping off all of the loose pieces, I have an indented section of the wall.  It is hard to see this in the photo below.  You only realize it when you start touching and brushing down the surface


 Section of east wall before repairs

Because of the eroded rocks, the wall is almost all cement by the time I am finished repairing it.  See photos below.


Section of east wall about half way repaired

Since this section of the wall meets a concrete surface, I again smoothed out the bottom edge and filled in any cracks where the wall meets the patio surface.


Section of east wall repaired up to the dirt edge


Section of east wall now repaired and painted up to behind the pomegranate plant - Jan 7, 2015

Work will continue along the east wall behind the plants. There will be some night freeze breaks in between the work. Looks like I have a good stretch of days between Jan 10-15, where the night does not hit the freezing mark.
Running total = 50- 40lb bags / 320 approx. hours labor / 7 gallons paint  (this includes 1 bag used on spalled patio area,1 bag used on the faux brick stairs, 1-1/2 bags used on plant hole faux bricks and patio cracks)
January 18, 2015 --  I am getting near the completion of the east wall.  There are some really bad areas that keep me hung up for a few days as I apply layers.  The bad area pictured below actually made the wall look like it was ready to fall over.  The visible cracks running horizontally along the wall added to this illusion.  If left alone, the wall probably would collapse in a few years.

To repair this section, I needed to start on the bottom on the patio and work up.  The cement will be built up until it reaches the rock.  The new cement will support the rocks that over hang the bottom of the wall between 2-3 inches.


Really bad area of east wall


Bad area of east wall being built-up


Bad area of east wall continuing to be built-up, January 18, 2015

After this day's repairs, the really bad section is beginning to look less like it might collapse at any moment. 

The other thing I am doing along this wall, which eats up a lot of time, is moving the darn rocks around.  The rocks had to be moved to remove the dirt along the wall.  Over the years, the rocks had been covered by dirt.  So as I go along the wall, I am removing the rocks, leveling the dirt after painting the wall, and placing the rocks back on top of the soil.  Tedious, but the plant bed looks a lot nicer now.


East wall as of January 18, 2015

Running total = 56- 40lb bags / 376 approx. hours labor / 8 gallons paint  (this includes 1 bag used on spalled patio area,1 bag used on the faux brick stairs, 1-1/2 bags used on plant hole faux bricks and patio cracks)
January 20, 2015 --  I am almost finished with the short section of the east wall.

January 21, 2015 --  I almost finished the short section today until afternoon rain cut my workday short.  I also started on the taller section of the wall.

January 22, 2015 --
First snow day of the year. The house got about 3" of snow today.

January 23, 2015 --
Snow melting day. Snow on roof needs to finish melting.  Rock wall area too wet to work in.


East wall as of January 20, 2015

Running total = 59 - 40lb bags / 394 approx. hours labor / 8-1/2 gallons paint  (this includes 1 bag used on spalled patio area,1 bag used on the faux brick stairs, 1-1/2 bags used on plant hole faux bricks and patio cracks)
January 29, 2015 -- Work on the short section of the east rock wall was completed on the 26th.  I then began to work on the tall section of the east wall. 

The photograph below shows this section of the wall.  What you cannot see in the picture is how almost every rock on this wall is heavily eroded.  For the past few years, every time I walked out to this section, I found chunks of rock or concrete on the patio.

This wall will be entirely covered with concrete so I do not have to deal with any more debris.  The bottom of the wall where it meets the patio will be made smooth.  The concave inside corner will be filled in and smoothed out so water and dirt does not collect in it.


Next section of rock wall to work on. The tall section.


East wall short wall complete.  Work on tall section as of January 28, 2015.

The photo below shows the work completed as of January 29, 2015.  The tall section is almost complete.  Rain is being predicted tonight and the next few days so I will be taking a break until the weather is better.

You probably think I am almost done with the east wall.  Nope!.....the wall continues into the front yard and is in pretty bad shape.  Although I can say,  I am at least half way done with this overall project at this point.


Tall section of east wall as of January 29, 2015

Running total = 64 - 40lb bags / 424 approx. hours labor / 9 gallons paint  (this includes 1 bag used on spalled patio area,1 bag used on the faux brick stairs, 1-1/2 bags used on plant hole faux bricks and patio cracks)
February 6, 2015 --The repairs on the east wall are now complete up to the tall wall that separates the side of the property from the front yard.

There were a couple days of drizzling rain Jan 30-31, 2015 where work was halted.  The photo below shows the now completed side yard.


East wall as of February 5, 2015

The tall wall was in pretty good shape compared to other parts of this section.  However, many of the rocks had chunks that kept coming off.

So most of the wall was covered with concrete before painting.  The rock wall where it meets the bricks, had a few gaps large gaps that were filled and the transition edge was smoothed out.

Along the bottom edge of the wall, I filled some cracks and smoothed it out. 

The small step and corner in the area leading to the front patio had cracks and was starting to spall.  Also the corner was indented and always caught dust and water.  I filled in the corner and made it even with the edge of the small step.

For extra security I bondo-ed on some cast iron decorative spears on the wall.  The gas company meter readers have jumped this wall in the past to read the gas meter.  This bothered me a lot. 


Corner and bottom smoothed out. Spears added to top edge,

When the gas company was on-site for another issue, I complained about this wall jumping.  What they did was rotate the gas meter so the dials face toward the front.  So now the meter readers can read it with binoculars on the outside of the wall.  The spears will help deter any future wall jumping a little.

Why don't they just walk in the front gate you ask?  We have all gates leading to the outside padlocked to keep the dogs from getting out.  Cable company worker walked in one day without any warning or appointment and left a gate wide open.  Even though we have "Beware of Dogs" on all of our gates.  We had to run around the neighborhood to get all of our dogs back. 


Next section of east wall to repair in front yard

Pictured above the next section of the east wall to be repaired.  I will probably be stuck out here for a month because this wall is heavily damaged along the bottom edge.  I also have to move the rocks and shovel out the dirt along the bottom of the wall to make repairs below the dirt line.
Running total = 69 - 40lb bags / 460 approx. hours labor / 9-1/2 gallons paint  (this includes 1 bag used on spalled patio area,1 bag used on the faux brick stairs, 1-1/2 bags used on plant hole faux bricks and patio cracks)
February 11, 2015 -- We have had great weather in the 70's for the past week. Work along the badly eroded east wall in the front yard has continued.  When I talk about bad rock erosion, see the photo to the right.

Layers of rock just flaking off.  In some areas I need to work carefully.  I am afraid to remove too much loose debris and have the wall collapse.  So I remove a little, clean the area, then put some new cement in before moving on to the next area.

I am again painting soon after the wall is repaired.  This is because I have to keep moving the bloody rocks around.  I am repairing the wall about 6" below the soil line.


Close-up of flaking rocks

So I need to dig down and remove the soil, repair wall, paint 2 coats, and then move the soil back, and place the rocks on top.  Easier to do this as I go along the wall.


East wall in front yard as of February 10, 2015

Running total = 74 - 40lb bags / 500 approx. hours labor / 9-1/2 gallons paint  (this includes 1 bag used on spalled patio area,1 bag used on the faux brick stairs, 1-1/2 bags used on plant hole faux bricks and patio cracks)
February 21, 2015 -- Still having great Spring like weather here.  Unlike the east coast which is suffering through record breaking snow fall and freezing temperatures.  This is why I live in the Southwest. 

Work along the east front yard wall has continued and I am almost done, except for the wall where the Mexican Elderberry tree is.  I have been rushing to finish this wall before February 23, 2015 because, this is when I will have contractors coming that will be replacing my garage roof.

Photos below show my progress the last ten days.


East wall in front yard as of February 15, 2015


East wall in front yard as of February 18, 2015


East wall in front yard as of February 21, 2015

Below is a photo of the same wall before.  You will notice that I raised the wall a few inches so it is level with the bottom rail of the neighbors white wrought iron fence.


"Before" picture of East wall in front yard

Running total = 89 - 40lb bags / 580 approx. hours labor / 10-1/2 gallons paint  (this includes 1 bag used on spalled patio area,1 bag used on the faux brick stairs, 1-1/2 bags used on plant hole faux bricks and patio cracks)
March 14, 2015 -- Work on the rock walls was interrupted by the "Raising the Roof" project.  (see these images here....).  It became apparent after a few days that I needed to keep a close eye on the contractors and what they were doing.

I did manage to complete the rock wall on the east side all the way to the front sidewalk. This small section of wall needed to raised about 4 inches to make it level with the rest of the wall.


East wall in front yard on February 19, 2015


East wall in front yard as of March 5, 2015.
 (Trash bins temporarily here because of construction on garage)

I am currently working on the small section of wall around the Mexican Elderberry tree.  For such an distinctive feature in the front of the house, I am making it look as pretty looking as possible.  For the top cap of the wall, which has many cracks in it, I decided to do a faux flagstone treatment.  Yes...I am covering the rocks on the wall and then putting fake rocks back on the top.  I could have just filled all of the cracks and then painted the cap the same color as the wall, but where is the fun in that! 


Section of wall painted and faux flagstone added to wall cap

To work around the tree, I needed to move more bloody rocks.  I really hate these rocks at this point.
I have completed the inside of the tree circle and outside of the short section.


Rocks moved to work on rock wall around tree. 
Rock wall repaired inside tree circle and outside short section.

Running total = 100 - 40lb bags / 700 approx. hours labor / 12-1/2 gallons paint  (this includes 1 bag used on spalled patio area,1 bag used on the faux brick stairs, 1-1/2 bags used on plant hole faux bricks and patio cracks)
March 24, 2015 -- For the past ten days I worked as fast as I could to finish the wall around the tree in the front yard.  I was stopped by rain a couple days.  After covering the wall with cement, I did the faux rock on the cap of the wall.  When this was completed I painted the wall two coats of paint and moved the small rocks back.


Rock wall around tree - before


Tree wall after covering rocks with cement on March 21, 2015


Tree wall completed.  Faux rocks added to top of wall.  Wall painted.

The front yard now looks a lot cleaner and brighter.  When it rains, I no longer have walls that look dark and dreary.  You can now sit around the tree without worrying about tearing your pants or cutting your leg.  There were some pretty jagged pieces of rocks that I chiseled off and smoothed out with cement.

I smoothed out the bottom edge of the wall that meets the bricks.  Dirt had always collected in the cracks and weeds would take root.  No more weeds here.

I still have the wall that runs along the west side of the house.  I will work on this wall next winter.  I now have to get to the new roof on the garage and paint everything.
Running total = 120 - 40lb bags / 800 approx. hours labor / 13 gallons paint  (this includes 1 bag used on spalled patio area,1 bag used on the faux brick stairs, 1-1/2 bags used on plant hole faux bricks and patio cracks)

December 2015 - May 6, 2016
 
I decided last year to work on the west rock walls the following winter. December 2015 was too wet and we had some snow.  My work on the rock walls has resumed January 2016. 

Prior to working on the west wall, I had a few other cement related tasks.

- There was the repair of the cement area below some siding at the back of the house.
- I had three more plant hole faux bricks to do on the upper terrace patio. 
- Repairs to wall at the back of the house and reinforcement to some chain link fence poles.


Concrete under old siding at the back of house spalled and cracked


Cement repaired underneath new siding


Cement painted and trim added to siding


Faux bricks added to last three plant holes on terrace patio

One thing I learned about those privacy screens you can attach to a chain link fence.....Make sure your chain link fence is strong enough to handle any winds. 

I had finally purchased the last of the five privacy screens I needed for the chain link fence above the rock wall in the backyard.  The first three I put on, did fine in strong winds.  When I added the last 2 this past Fall all it took was a a few good gusts at 60 mph to almost bring down the fence.


Back of our wall that is in a commercial backlot or alley.  Note bent pole under tree.

I needed to go on the other side of the wall to install some U-bolts in cement to tie the poles flush against the rock wall.  I drilled holes in the cement on the back side of the wall.  I then cemented in the u-bolt.  A rope goes through the u-bolt, goes over the top of the rock wall, and secures the pole against the rock wall.

While I was on the alley side of the wall, I also made some repairs.  There were two areas that had missing rocks that I plugged up.

 


U-bolt cemented on back side of wall


 Big scary hole - before


 Big scary hole - after.  White stuff is the drying cement sealer.


 Missing rock - before


Missing rock - after

Then I created some stronger cement bases for two of the poles since the ground level section of the poles had almost rusted through.

Eye screws were also added to the rock wall to further secure the pole that had bent.


Bases of two poles reinforced with large cement blocks.

For the privacy screens, I left the bottom corners and sides un-attached.  This way the wind can go through.  The fence is now standing up straight again.
January 16, 2016 -

Work was started on the rock walls than run along the west side of the property.

The area up to the second stair had already been painted in the past.  I will begin the work from the second stair all the way into the backyard.

The rocks on this wall are eroding badly so the plan is to totally encapsulate the rocks with cement.  After covering the wall with cement, I will then paint it.

January 24, 2016 - I have now reached the section of the wall where it is in a dirt section.  As with the east walls, I have to move the soil away from the wall about 6" deep.

The photo below shows the different stages of the repair.


West rock walls before work


As of January 24, 2016, the rock wall has been covered with cement up to the dirt section

January 31, 2016 - The section of wall on the west side of the house leading to the backyard is over half way done.  I will need to wait about a week for the weather to improve.  The forecast has the nights dropping below freezing up to about February 6, 2016. 

During this down time, I will make some kind of cover for the water faucet located against this wall.  This faucet is rarely used because there are no plants here (for now).  I will need to custom make the faucet/pipe cover. I want the cover to be as flush as possible to the wall so it will be about 8" deep, 24" wide, and 24" high.  The material I use will need to be water proof.  I also have some packing material I have saved that I will use as insulation.  The pipes are already wrapped with insulation.  Extra insulation will be good because when it does snow, the sun does not hit this area for very long to melt it.


As of January 31, 2016, the rock wall is covered past the faucet

February 16, 2016 - Work was halted until February 7th.  It was not until this date that the night time temperatures were above freezing. 

The west wall was completed on the side of the house. 

A box was made out of some scrap ABS to cover the pipe.  It is a little too big but that is OK.  I will be able to store a small hose within the box.  I will eventually plant some bushes in this area that will hide the box.  Now I won't have to worry about this pipe, the next time it freezes.

Work now continues into the backyard


West wall along side of house now complete

The backyard wall has one ugly area.  The corner where a chain link fence pole is.

For some reason the pole was not installed straight into the ground.  I think it was because there is a piece of metal here from what appears to be an old wrought iron fence.  So instead of digging out the old pole, the previous owners made this weird modification. (see photo on the right)

The other problem where the pole is, is the gap behind it.  It collects all kinds of litter.  The plan is to fill in the area behind the pole with cement and to improve the general appearance of this corner.


Backyard west wall ugly corner

February 25, 2016 - Work has continued along the west wall into the backyard.  It took about a week to work on the short wall section along where the wrought iron gate is and the ugly corner.


Backyard west wall ugly corner  - Ugly no more.

A lot of cement was used to fill the gap between the left post of the wrought iron gate and the rock wall.  Then more cement was used to level out and smooth the edge.  Over the years rain water would rush through this gap eroding the exposed rocks.  Now the water will just run over the outer edge.

The wall was built-up in the corner with cement encasing the back of the chain link fence pole. This filled in the gap that would trap pine needles, pine cones, dirt, and other litter.

Half a day was spent chiseling out the ugly cement blob at the base of the pole.  I removed half of the cement.  I then placed a plywood square mold around the blob and made a nice square block of cement.  I went high enough to encase where the pole was starting to rust.

Everything in the corner was then painted.  Yes, the cement sidewalk needs to be repaired.  The movable fence around the plant protects it from the dogs.  If left exposed, the dogs would destroy the plant in a matter of minutes.

Work continues along the wall. It is difficult to work at the top of the wall because of the bottom of the chain link fence.  I use a piece of wood wedged between the fence and wall to stretch out the bottom of the fence enough to allow me to slide my hands underneath and work on the wall.  I still end up with torn gloves and a lot of scratches on my forearms.


The remaining west wall to work on, as of February 24, 2016

March 4, 2016 - Work has continued along the west backyard wall.  Temperatures have been in the high 70's and lower 80's through this period.  A little too warm for this work but it is better than the 40's.

If anyone is wondering again, w-h-y on Earth I am covering all of the rocks with cement, see the photos below.



The reason I am encapsulating the entire rock wall.  Layers of rock keep falling off the exposed rocks and the rubble collects at the base of the wall.

After 40 years, the rocks continue to erode with 1-2 inches of the rocks now gone in some places.  If left alone, the rocks would just keep eroding until the wall fails.  By covering the whole wall with cement it will probably stay standing 50 years or more with very little maintenance.

As I work along this wall, I am beefing up the bases of the chain link fence poles which have rusted but have not broken....yet.  While I have the cement and I am removing the dirt at the base of the rock walls anyways, it is just easier to do this at the same time.


Base of pole dug down to cement

Base of pole after adding cement
I dug down deep enough until I got to the cement the pole was set in.  I just built up the cement around the pole until I covered the rusted areas.  The paint will help protect the pole from any more rusting for now.


 Scrap of 2 x 4 wedged between wall and fence to allow me to get my arms
under the fencing to work on the wall


West wall in the backyard as of March 3, 2016

March 15, 2016 - The west wall was completed on March 14, 2016.  Work will proceed on the final wall which runs along the south end of our backyard.  It is around 6' tall and is around 46' long.

The first thing that needs to be done is to cap the top of the wall with new cement.  The original cement work done on the top only sealed between the rocks.  A smooth cement cap was never done.  Over the years, the cement used, which had a lot of aggregate materials, has spalled.  There are also some holes. 

To work on the top of this wall behind the chain link fence, I need to go to the other side of the wall into the back commercial lot. I also need a ladder to reach the top.


West wall in the backyard completed on March 14, 2016


South wall being capped on March 14, 2016

March 19, 2016 - The cap on the south wall was completed today.  It took 5 days working in direct sunlight to do this wall.  I could only work around 4-5 hours per day because of the heat and no bathroom.  It took 7 bags of cement to do this 50 feet of the wall on the top.

There were a few rocks missing along the top that were filled up with cement. I have a feeling that some of this damage was done by the dumpster. Either by the dumpster truck hitting the wall or the lid being flopped onto the wall over many years.  In the picture below, it is far enough away to not cause any damage.  Usually the dumpster is a lot closer to the wall.

The corner section on the far right was built-up around 4" with some added rock and cement.  This corner piece was a crumbling mess.  I used almost an entire bag on this section.

I could now walk comfortably along the top of this wall if I needed, without fear of rocks falling off.


South wall cap completed on March 19, 2016. No more crumbling.

Work will now continue on the yard side of the south wall.

March 21, 2016 - Before working on the south wall, I needed to make a hole in the wall.  The reason for this is the rain.  The rain collects on a large section of the roof and all of the water eventually ends up at the lowest part of the yard........and there it sits, until it is absorbed in the ground.  See photo below.

If the ground is saturated, this water can enter the lower level of the house.  For 18 years we have been lucky.  I don't believe we will always be this lucky.  Plus, the new garage roof now collects more rain water, which all ends up..... in the backyard.

I am going to open up an area of the wall and insert some pvc pipe.  Some of the rain water will then be diverted to the other side of the rock wall into the back commercial lot.  Hopefully keeping any water from entering the house.


Heavy rain in backyard April 2014.  Note water covering sidewalk.

After looking at photographs of heavy rainfall that I have taken over the years, I determined where on the wall I would need to make a hole.  I also took photographs of both sides of the wall to determine the easiest place to chip away cement and rock.

According to the old rain photos, the heavy rain flooding hits below the lightest gray square rock in the photo below.  I needed to work on both sides of the wall and chipped out the cement to create this gap.  I bought both 2" and 1-1/2" pvc pipe.  To see which would fit best.  I eventually got the 2" to work in the hole.  It needed to be low enough and angle downwards into the back lot.

Since the gap was large, I managed to also fit the 1-1/2" pipe in just above it.  This pipe may never be needed, but it is there just in case.  And in case anyone is wondering.....The 3" pipe would not have fit.  There was some rock I could not chisel away.

I will still need to go back to the commercial lot to cement the hole and pvc on that side.  This I will do after the yard side sets.  I also need to make sure the hole is somewhat camouflaged.  Why?  Because some idiot will eventually come along and stuff some trash there....if they see it.


Hole made all the way through the rock wall


 Both pipes cemented into wall. Dirt removed at base of the wall in preparation for cement.

April 1, 2016 - Work along the south wall is going slowly.  Since I am dealing with a 6 foot high wall, it just takes longer.  About 14 feet of the wall have been completed.

In the corner, I purchased more bricks to pace on the sand/dirt.  No grass...or anything grows in this area, including weeds.  The dogs just dig holes and kick up dust when they play.  Better to just cover it.  I still need about 100 more bricks to finish off this area.

This is a nice shady area, so I bought a cast aluminum bench for this corner.  Since this bench is aluminum, it will not rust.


About 14 feet of south wall done as of April 1. 2016

For the next section of the wall, I dug up about six feet of the ivy and removed the dirt.  I discovered that the next pole had rusted all the way through at the base.  I will be making another big ass block of cement to support it.

About the ivy.  Not good along rock walls.  The ivy digs it way into the cracks and crevices, weakening the wall.  It will all be removed as I work along the wall.


Next section of wall to work on.  Dirt removed at bottom.
A big block of cement will be placed at base of pole which has rusted through.
  Ivy will be removed.

April 8, 2016 - Today is a rain day, so I get a day off.  I have completed another 6 foot section of the wall.  A few more feet of ivy has been removed and the pole with the rusted base has been covered with a big block of cement.


South wall as of April 8, 2016

The pillar section of this wall is heavily eroded on the bottom so it needed to be built back up and filled in with cement.  The corners between the pillar and the wall also had a lot of cracks so a lot of cement is being placed here in the inside corners. They are being rounded out so dust and rain flow smoothly off of it.

Erosion on pillar base

Building up pillar base with cement
April 20, 2016 - The south wall is now 3/5 finished.  The ivy was pulled out and another pole was repaired.

The broken pole needed to be straightened before the base of the pole was repaired because it was leaning against the top of the rock wall..  I did this by temporarily wedging a scrap 2 x 4 between the rock wall and pole.  I also added a glob of cement between the wall and pole at the center pole to keep it straight.

Why do I only paint a small section at a time?  It has to do with the dirt removed.  If I just did the whole wall at one time, I would have have all these piles of dirt that were removed from the base of the wall. 


Pole broken at bottom


Broken pole straightened and cement block made around old block and up over broken area.  Blob of cement added behind pole to help keep pole straight up and down.


South wall as of April 19, 2016

May 6, 2016 - Done with bloody rock walls.  Finally!!!


South wall completed May 6, 2016


South wall as of May 7, 2016

 

The Projects
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    using concrete patch

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Fire Place Hearth Shelves
Foundation Issues
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Gate From Hell
Horrible Man Cave (rec room) Total Renovation
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How to fix holes in a wrought iron screen door and replace screen
How to Make Your Own Door
- Crawl Space Door
How to Winterize a Swamp (Evaporative) Cooler
Kitchen Counter Tops - Faux Granite
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Main Bathroom Repair / Remodel
Master Bathroom Shower Area Stripped to the Studs
Oklahoma Home Facelift -- Aluminum Siding and Paint
OMG!  The sink was leaking the whole time we were away?
Raising the Roof - Garage Roof Replacement
Rock Wall Repair
Siding - Exterior
Solar Lighting Journey
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Stairs to the Lower Level
Stencils - How to Make Your Own Stencils for Paint Projects
Storage Shed / Closet
Storm Shelter (Oklahoma)
Stucco Wall Repair and Paint
Swamp (Evaporative) Cooler Maintenance
Wrought Iron Facelift Outside
Weather Stripping (doors)
Why is My Swamp (Evaporative) Cooler Blowing Hot Air?