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The saga of a dumpy back yard – Part 3 – “I’m getting too old for this manual labor stuff!”

As I mentioned in ma previous post, the backyard of our home  has a retaining wall that has rocks cemented onto the face of it.  The wall runs the entire width of the rear of the yard and also runs down the side of the yard. The previous owners of out home “installed” the rocks onto the wall, but unfortunately did a horrible job and thus the rocks look pretty crappy and are poorly installed.  As an added bonus the rocks don’t adhere to the wall very well and if you walk onto the top of the wall the stones will fall right out of the mortar.

Retaining Wall with rock - Before

Retaining Wall with rock - Before

The “best” part of the wall (yes I am being sarcastic) is the oh so lovely head that the previous owners embedded into the face of the wall along with the rock. Why someone would put a face in the middle of a rock wall is beyond me. The face has always been a bit of joke and every day that I look at it I wonder what in the world the previous home owners were smoking when they made the decision to install this hideous face.

Another annoying bit about the face is that when I open the front door of our home and enter the living room the very first thing that draws your visual attention is the sliding door on the opposite end of the room, and of course the face is framed perfectly in the middle of this sliding door. This of course means that every person that enters our home immediately spots the head.. and I can see the look of “WTF?” on their face every time.

Thy mysterious floating head

Thy mysterious floating head

For the last 6 years Paige and I have wanted to tear down the rocks on the face of the wall and replace them with something that looks a little better but we have been hesitant due to the amount of time and labor this would involve.  Now that I am out of a job I have some time on my hands so I figured I would take a stab at taking the rocks off the wall.

So I went to the nearest home depot, rented a demolition hammer and went to work removing the rocks. The first 10 to 15 feet of removal went pretty well, but me and my aging back were not happy campers as the removal continued.  Here’s a video showing rock removal when things were progressing pretty well.  Even on this easier bit, I was whining and snivling…

As I progressed down the wall it got more difficult to remove the rock. I think the mortar mix that was used further down the wall was different, and thus adhered better. It turns out that even though the rocks didn’t stick to the cement very well, the cement definitely stuck to the wall very well (thus the difficulty in removing it). The first 20 feet took me 2 hours but the next 20 feet or so took me 4+ hours.. oof!  After 6 hours of using the demo hammer I was pooped. The strength in my forearms was shot, my grip was was pretty much non existent and my back was not in its happy place either. At the end of the day here’s what i had accomplished.

Progress after 6 hours

Progress after 6 hours

So roughly 40% of the rocks have been removed, but I’m not sure if I’m going to continue doing the rest myself. At the end of the day yesterday it was taking about one hour to remove 2 or 3 feet of rock.  I’m going to give the body a rest for a day or two and consider coming back with a larger demolition hammer, or just waiving the white flag and having someone with stronger equipment (and a stronger body) do the rest.

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