June to December 2005
When the back deck was replaced, it was also enlarged. The deck is level to the house. Since the ground slopes from the front of the house to the back (from North to South), the deck is 2 feet or so above the ground at the house to some 4 feet at the farthest point from the house. The builder had cleared off the area under the deck, put down landscape cloth and put pebbles on top of it. This keeps things from growing under the deck.
Since the new deck extends out further from the house, something needs to be done under the new part of the deck. One approach would be to just throw some landscape cloth over it and put more pebbles on it, but much of this area was a mixture of dirt and rock.
Rather than just cover it up, I decided to dig it all out, down to bed rock (which is just another two to three feet down. This took months, and involved both removing the dirt and rock, carefully, to avoid disturbing the supports for the deck, and then replacing the deck supports. When the deck was extended, they just dug down a little, poured a concrete pad, and put the deck support on that concrete pad. The result was that the deck support was on a concrete pad which was generally on dirt and rock. Dirt and rock that I was removing.
To keep the deck in place, I used a number of steel pipe jacks to hold the deck on both sides of a support while the rock and dirt under the support was removed and a new concrete support pour which went all the way down to bedrock.
Otherwise, the process was mainly just the work of digging out all the dirt and rock under the back deck.
Once all the dirt and rock was removed, I went in and built a retaining wall under the edge of the back deck to bring it back up to ground level. Behind the retaining wall, we put down landscape cloth and pebbles, to match what the builder had done under the original deck.
Now we wanted something that was beyond my amateur capabilities. We wanted to brick up the space under the back deck and create planters. The smaller planter would be for my irises, and the larger, two level planter for Linda's herbs.
Notice the area under the deck near Linda's herb planters. When we were excavating this area, it went quite deep, almost deep enough to stand up in. Rather than just filling that in, we put up a stone wall to hold back the pebbles further in (from the original builder), and left it an open space -- what we call "the dungeon".
To do this work, we called someone who had done stone work for Linda before, Guadalupe Zarate. He found someone to do the work for $4400, mostly using the rocks that we dug out from under the deck. They did an excellent job.