Welcome to Kelli's Olympic Nest's tale of how we are creating a home we love through thrifty DIY projects, crafty ideas, and a willingness to get dirty. In between, there's the stories reminding us to also live the life you love. 

How to improve curb appeal with a beautiful retaining wall

How to improve curb appeal with a beautiful retaining wall

It has been quite some time since I have written a post. As soon as the weather begins to warm up and the rains let up, the race is on to get our gardens and landscape projects done. Then there's nothing like company coming to visit that motivates you to finish all the indoor projects like our his/her office which I hope to be sharing the finished space soon.

The miracle of a brick retaining wall drastically improves curb appeal!

In January I wrote a post about our project goals for 2018 (trying something new instead of resolutions). Only had 5 goals which you can check out here. Number two was to tackle our front landscape. 

Ugh. Just looking at it brings back all the angst we went through trying to make this area nice.

build a retaining wall to improve curb appeal

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As you can see our front landscaping area was an eye sore. When we put in our home about 15 years ago, we had to add a lot of back fill creating a pretty sharp slope in the front. At the time, we had all these cinder blocks left over so I used them to create a retaining wall. The ground settled and the bricks followed suit. Full disclosure...I'm sure I had no idea what I was doing and just eyeballed to determine whether or not each block was straight and leveled (hand-slap to face). 

adding curb appeal with a raised flower bed.jpg

See what I mean about the slope? Ran out of cinder blocks so stacked some rocks hoping to contain the soil. It didn't work. Building a brick retaining wall was going to have to account for all the rain. 

Let's get started shall we...

The first thing I did was weed. Word of advice (you probably already know this) do not plant Creeping Jenny anywhere but a basket! Near impossible to get control of it. 

The first thing Hubby did was measure the width and height. Then he factored in the brick size which helped him figure out how many bricks we would approximately need. 

To mark our line, hubby used the house as his point of reference and used spray paint to mark the ground where we would build our wall. We did this for both ends then took twine to mark each point and curve followed by spray paint to mark the line. 

With this being our first landscape pavers retaining wall, we weren't quite sure how they would work along a straight line. So we thought it would be a good idea to use the cinder blocks with a rough face for the straight line that would meet the curved bricks which we used for the curved area. (Yep, didn't refer to the darn video tutorials until later).

We were moving right along. I would use my garden shovel to create a somewhat level area for the brick to lay and Hubby would come along with his bucket of pea gravel, level, and mallet to place each brick. 

Want some helpful diy retaining wall tutorials? Check out this one here and this video by Lowes here.

lessons learned building a raised flower bed.jpg

We stepped back to take a look at our progress and looked at each other. 


What we wanted it to look like? No. 

"We're going to have to make another run to town, aren't we?" He asked. 

Running to town means 1/2 a day trip. Our home improvement store is an hour and a half away. So when we make a run, it's not quick.

We ended up purchasing more of the pavers so that it looked like this...

diy raised flower bed using landscaping bricks.jpg much better.

But not quite finished. See the original cinder blocks? They gotta go!

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And you get this finished look. Beautiful retaining wall definitely adds some much needed curb appeal. Our short-sightedness actually worked out!

improve curb appeal with a raised flower bed .jpg

We back filled the wall with pea gravel to about 1/2 way then we added Miracle Grow garden soil.

I have always wanted to plant Dahlias but didn't really have a good place to plant them. Here in the pacific northwest dahlias love the temperate summer climate but don't survive the deluge of rains so they have to be dug up and stored through the winter and most of spring.

how to plant dahlias  .jpg

A friend of mine gave me some tubers and coached me through how to plant them. I had to wait until mid May before I could plant. Once the weather was warmer and drier the tubers were ready to plant: dig a hole, sprinkle some fertilizer, place the bulb (on its side) on top, cover the hole, water and wait.

Once the shoots pop through, make sure the slugs don't annihilate them.

Check out American Meadow's site for more on growing dahlias here.

diy dahlia raised flower bed.jpg

This is what our dahlia garden looks like in mid July.

dahlia flower bed.jpg
first time grower plants dahlias.jpg

To fill in some of the gaps I planted lavender (super easy to grow and the slugs don't like them) and some daisy seeds.

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Remember what the corner looked like before the retaining wall?

adding curb appeal with a raised flower bed.jpg

Here it is after. Amazing!

diy dry stacking brick retaining wall.jpg

Before I used to walk by this area and cry on the inside. It was sooo ugly! The miracle of our diy brick retaining wall causes me to stop and soak in the beauty. It's just amazing what this has done to improve our curb appeal.

Warning! If you decide to build your own brick retaining wall, you will want to build  another and another and....

So what do you think? Curb appeal improvement or what!?

how these home owners built a brick retaining wall .jpg
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