Hinkle isn’t your run-of-the-mill landscaping company that also installs hardscapes. We are a team of specialized designers, architects, and on-site technicians who will work with you to create the outdoor living space of your dreams. In this month’s blog, we’re giving you an inside look into an Olathe makeover where the proper installation was of the utmost importance! This project goes to show that, with careful preparation and engineering, a pain point can be transformed into the highlight of your home – a sunken seating area!
These clients loved entertaining outdoors, but their sloped lawn was cramping their hosting style. It was time for an upgrade. They reached out to us with the following goal – converting their wasted greenspace into a year-round hotspot for gathering with friends and family. We jumped at the opportunity to solve their hillside headache! Although inclines can be challenging, they also present unique design opportunities. Terraced hardscapes are a prime example, and they just so happen to be one of our favorite ways to make slopes more livable.
To kick off the renovation, our senior designer, Randy Phillips, met with the clients to discuss their vision for the space and begin devising a game plan. Together, they decided that, rather than level the entire yard, they would build a patio on the hillside. Randy’s design featured a four-foot retaining wall as the structural backbone of the seating area, with walls of descending height steadying the soil on either side. After viewing their 3D renderings, the homeowners couldn’t wait for us to break ground!
A few months down the line, with permits and HOA approval secured, we were ready to begin construction! Proper installation is essential when it comes to building retaining elements, as the slightest misstep can impact their structural integrity. Knowing that this would be a technical job, we brought in an excavator to expedite the site preparation. The machinery made quick work of carving a recess into the landscape.
The next order of business was forming the wall’s foundation. The crew dug a trench along the outer perimeter of the embankment and filled it with a six-inch lift of compacted gravel. Because the wall was being installed vertically rather than in a setback position, it required additional structural support. Several reinforcement techniques can be used to bolster large walls; we went with a concrete footing/GeoGrid combo. The slab was poured below frost level to prevent it from shifting during future freeze-thaw cycles.
With the leveling pad in place, we were clear to go vertical! The first course of modular blocks adhered to the concrete base in the form of a wall. The team incrementally applied Lamina Tandem face panels to keep the rows progressing in a straight line. As tiers were completed, they were backed with compacted aggregate. The cores and voids between units were filled with gravel as well to provide additional support and facilitate internal drainage. As they moved from layer to layer, the crew made sure to stagger block joints to prevent the final stone pattern from being too uniform.
We figured our clients wouldn’t want their sunken patio to double as a kiddie pool, so we buried a perforated drain pipe to help relieve water and frost pressure. Once the wall had reached its full height, it was topped with capstones from the same product collection. Lastly, the backfill was covered with filter fabric to prevent any topsoil from sifting into the gravel. And with that, the wall was complete! The time and effort were well worth it to ensure that the retaining system will persist for years to come.