Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Construction Begins on the Broken Concrete Wall

My contractor Chris Gilliam found a place locally where he was allowed to pick over the concrete (free!) that had been dropped off for recycling. He brought a trailer-load today, and started construction of the broken concrete wall that will support the bed that's along the street. It was another cold day today, although not as cold as last night and the night before, when temps got down close to 10F. There was a dusting of snow on everything this morning as well, but it melted, as the temps warmed back up to above freezing.

Varying sizes and shapes

Some nice exposed aggregate

An interesting variety, including a couple of colored pieces


Taken from an upstairs window

Inspiration for the recycled broken concrete wall came from several different pins on Pinterest. Check them out here here and here. Also here.

They are making a handful of these planting pockets.

View from the living room window

One day's progress
We got a dump truck-load of topsoil today too, which will cover the small grass circle, as well as be used to amend the very sandy, rocky soil in the beds.

Have you seen any projects that used broken concrete for retaining walls? It's also called urbanite. One of the first broken concrete walls I ever saw was my own mother-in-law's in England, built by her handy husband. I'm not sure where they got the broken concrete they used for their garden walls so many years ago, but it's very fitting to their personalities that even their broken concrete is tidy.

Nigel's dad working in the garden

Broken concrete walls when they were new

Nigel's mum having a hoe-down

Broken concrete aged (taken June 2005)


  1. Wow, your project is moving fast. I saw all your great urbanite pin odeas as I already follow you on Pinterest. The walls do age nicely and will look good with your garden and surroundings.

    Broken concrete is popular in Texas too. We use a lot of culled limestone from various projects which looks similar and is free or nearly so.

  2. I love that! It looks fabulous! I am jealous that your project is moving along, as mine is at a standstill due to the snow.

  3. Your In-law's broken concrete does look very neat, and weatheed very nicely. It will be interesting to see the finished planted result of yours. The planting pockets sound be fun.

  4. It looks great! We have over 300 feet of broken concrete walls here in our yard, all selected and loaded and unloaded and placed by Tom and me for $1.00 q pick up load, back when we were young!

  5. A touch of English inspiration :) I like your new urbanite retaining walls and they do age well and can look like stone later on.

  6. What a fantastic idea.It looks amazing. I am impressed how well they age. I love it.

  7. I love following this project -- can't wait to see the end result. I didn't realize urbanite aged so nicely. Nigel's dad certainly did some great work on his walls -- both the construction and the design are really well done.

  8. Such a lovely ring to it " my contractor " , Philip asked me what I would like for christmas !

  9. I love how this will make your front lawn seem like a secret sunken sitting area! The pics of Nigel's folks and their great recycled concrete beds are way cool!

  10. Your projects are moving fast! Wonderful progress in such a short time is so encouraging.

    Urbanite is one of my favorite materials. I've even been known to pick pieces of broken pipes the road scraper hit along the road.

  11. You're making good progress despite the weather! My mother-in-law used recycled concrete from her driveway to create a wall in their backyard some 20 years ago - I always thought it was quite attractive. I've love to find a free source here as I need something more durable than what I've got on my slope.

  12. Very exciting! Especially as the material is free! I have never used broken concrete, but I think it looks really good.

  13. It's even BETTER when it's aged! It really looks great, Alison. The project is really taking shape. I love watching this progress.

  14. I saw an impressively tall broken concrete wall at Ann Lovejoy's former garden on Bainbridge Island. Loved it. Wanted one but broken concrete is harder to come by down here in the land of few sidewalks! The top photo in this blog entry shows it:

  15. I really like the look of this...can't wait to see more.


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