Ever since I bought my house in 1981, I knew that the concrete retaining wall next to the driveway would have to be replaced - it had developed some cracks and was starting to tilt out towards the driveway. But it's amazing how many years you can let something like go. Every year, the wall tilted a little more, and larger and larger cracks developed, but it never actually fell over.
Over the years, I made a couple of attempts to find a mason to build a new stone wall, but I was busy with work and other things and didn't have the time to chase down the guy who never showed up, or the guy who did show up and never got back to me with an estimate. But last year, when I was taking a sabbatical from work, I vowed that would be the year I would finally get it done. And, luckily, I found Enzo, an excellent stone mason who was just starting his own business. He did a great job, and I took these pictures of the work in progress.
There's nothing like coming home and finding 2 tons of rocks dumped in your driveway. The question everyone who sees this picture asks is, "Did you get your car out first?" The answer is yes, I did get my car out - it was not trapped in the garage for 3 weeks.
In this picture, the old wall has already been removed, a process that took 2 1/2 days of jackhammer work - very noisy, and exhausting for Enzo, who did most of the work on his own.
Over the next two weeks, the new wall gradually took shape. Enzo said it was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.
Enzo said that the old wall had been very strong, but didn't have enough drainage, so the water pressure built up behind it and pushed it out. Enzo assured me that he was building the new wall with lots of spaces between the rocks so that water could get through everywhere. In this picture you can see some dark wet marks where the water has been seeping between the stones.
On the last weekend, Enzo brought his father and brother to help him finish up. That's Enzo in the middle in blue, his father on the left in stripes, and his brother on his right in green. His father didn't speak much English, but Enzo told me that he said that the new wall had good drainage, which was good to hear.
And here's the finished product, which Enzo assures me will last another 40 years. Check back with me in 2039 to see how it's holding up!
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