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604-317-1180

Vancouver retaining walls and excavation services -  Dig Yardscapes offers services in retaining wall construction and excavating for homeowners in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland including North Vancouver, West Vancouver  & Burnaby. 

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Dig This - Our blog about retaining walls, excavation and stuff.

It's finally here... our brand new website!

Derek Ing

It's been a bit of a long time coming, but we're very pleased to announce the launch of our brand new website!

We did an all around revamp of the look and feel, as well as added plenty more content to be as helpful to you as possible.

Be sure to check out...

  • Our guidelines page. We've done all the grunt work for you and included links to all city and district regulations around retaining walls and slopes for the different parts of the Lower Mainland.
  • Way more awesome retaining walls page. Lots more details on retaining walls including pros and cons for the different options you have at your disposal. If you're hemming and hawing between different types of walls, this should be a big help!

  • Visuals galore. We added plenty more snaps of our projects on our photos page.

We'd love to get your feedback in the comments. And if you find that there is any info missing or anything else you'd like to see here, be sure to let us know. We value your input!

We'd also like to thank our marketing consultant Martina Iring for all her help with the content and the SEO! We hope that you'll agree our website is fun to read :)

Best erosion control plants for your retaining wall slope - perennials

Derek Ing

Ferns grow abundantly in Vancouver and BC - helping to stabilize slopes and prevent erosionSo you've built a retaining wall (or several) on your property. The next step in your landscaping adventure is to get planting on those new slopes that your retaining wall is holding up. Whether you've got one large slope, or several tiered areas, you need some greenery in there to call the project finished.

Your favourite plants, flowers and shrubs are a great start. But we also recommend that you add some plants that are known for minimizing soil erosion into the mix. These plants spread quickly (both above and below ground). Your rock solid wall will get an extra boost from a slope peppered with these erosion controllers.

Erosion preventing perennials

This list of perennials that thrives in Vancouver and the West Coast is sure to get you going...

  • Shield Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas) - You see ferns all over the forest floor and on many a slope for good reason. They are natural erosion preventers and soil creators. 
  • Bugleweed(Ajuga reptans) - Mahogany leaves and spiky blue flowers add an eye pleasing punch to your landscape.
  • Pussy slope(Antennaria) - This hardy plant is perfect for dry areas and can even withstand foot traffic. This silvery-grey foliage will call even the most inhospitable slope home.
  • Snow in Summer(Cerastium tomentosum) - You guessed it - this plant is named for snowy white flowers and is know for its awesome creeping ability.
  • Cliff Green(Paxistima canbyi) - This evergreen perennial is also quite the spreader and sports while flowers in the summer.
  • Fleece Flower(Persicaria affinis) - If you love brightly coloured flowers, use this mat-forming bloom to add some colour to your slope.
  • Ribbon Grass(Phalaris arundinacea) - This grass with lovely white striped blades is an aggressive one and will have your slope in shape in no time.

Try planting these perennials to make your retaining wall look right at home on your property and add some additional slope stabilizing power. Gotta love the kill two birds with one stone principle! If you're looking to get some landscaping done after Dig has finished your retaining wall, let us know. We'd be happy to recommend one of our local, Vancouver landscaping crews.

In the next post, we'll look at some trees and shrubs that can also help with erosion control. Stay tuned and happy summer!

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Dig removes a 3500lb cedar stump with ease, yeehaaw!

Derek Ing

Little Dig sure made short work of this massive tree stump in Burnaby!

When you bring in an arborist for tree removal services, you're more often than not left with a large tree stump in your yard. Unless you plan to leave the stump as part of your landscape, it's gotta go and you definitely can't get it out on your own.

If you're looking for stump removal, Little Dig is ready to take on the challenge, no matter how big your stump is. Get in touch with us today about our tree stump removal services.

3 Cheers for Concrete Blocks!

Derek Ing

Concrete retaining wall New WestminsterWhen it comes to retaining wall material, you have a lot of choices.  When you envision your ideal backyard landscape ( or yardscape as we here at Dig call it!), what do you see?  Perhaps a quaint English brick or stone wall, or a beautiful West coast style wood wall?  You might not, being the green loving Vancouverite you are, think of concrete blocks right off the top of your head. But the Dig Boys love working with concrete blocks, and recommend it as your retaining wall choice. 

WHY GO FOR CONCRETE?

Concrete blocks are safe, stable and built to last.  A concrete block retaining wall requires a mortar-less installation which can be done year round (especially in our balmy North West climate).  Brick and wood are notorious for collapse, as brick requires impeccably applied grout and mortar and wood requires braces and tie backs. You concrete blocks aren't going anywhere.

Concrete blocks are an affordable option that gives you an extra bang for your buck thanks to their long-life durability.  Wood may stand out as the most affordable choice, but keep in mind that wood has the cheapest up-front cost.  Wood has the shortest life span of retaining wall materials, and can be prone to rot or infestation if not treated properly.

Contrary to what you might imagine, concrete blocks are a very versatile option for retaining walls. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and finishes.  They give you the ability to add curves or corners to your yardscape, while an option like wood limits you to straight lines.  If you’re concerned with so much gray, add a little ivy here, some plants there, and before you know it your retaining wall will blend right into your natural landscape.  

Concrete blocks can be a very eco-friendly choice. West Coasters are famous for our earth loving recycling spirits, and us Dig Boys are proud to uphold this image.  Dig uses blocks made out of recycled concrete to build up those fine retaining walls.

We're flexible to work with you and any retaining wall material you may choose, but we definitely like, or shall we say, “dig,” concrete blocks above all options.  We hope you “dig” them too!



What kind of a retaining wall should I build?

Derek Ing

Close your eyes and imagine your dream Vancouver yard. You’re lying on your lawn chair with your favorite drink in hand enjoying your West Coast backyard bliss. Now freeze frame that image. Zoom in on that retaining wall beyond your fish pond and to the left of your BBQ pavilion. 

What do you see your retaining wall made of? Brick? Wood? Concrete Block? 

If you’re planning on making this dream come true (and Dig encourages you to do exactly that!), then there are a few things to consider about the different materials that can be used for constructing retaining walls in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.

Brick Retaining Walls

nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.netThe PROs of choosing brick for your retaining wall

  • affordable
  • very charming, traditional appearance (spot of tea, anyone?)
  • aesthetically pleasing
  • reasonably durable (won’t rot but are succeptible to cracking)
  • water, fire and pest resistant

The CONs of building a brick retaining wall

  • Labor intensive - each brick has to be meticulously grouted and mortared for structural integrity
  • Prone to collapse/structural failure - can't be used to hold back large volumes of soil

Wood Retaining Walls

Nuttapong / FreeDigitalPhotos.netThe PROs of using wood for your retaining wall project

  • Most affordable (has the cheapest upfront cost of any retaining wall material)
  • West Coast natural look that matches the Vancouver landscape nicely
  • Accessible
  • Easy installation
  • New standards of wood preservatives means no harmful chemicals went into treating the wood and it lasts a longer time

The CONs of going for a wood retaining wall

  • Limited design options (straight lines)
  • Chance of rot/infestation of insects if improperly treated (with this rainy Vancouver weather, properly treated wood is a must!)
  • Prone to structural failure - doesn’t last as long as other material
  • Braces, anchors, tie backs often necessary for wood to support weight of soil, so if you have a huge amount of land to uphold, can be very labour intensive

Concrete Block Retaining Walls

The PROs of choosing to build your retaining wall with concrete blocks

  • Varied design options - create curves/corners and there are many different sizes and finishes you can choose from
  • Straightforward installation
  • Totally safe & stable
  • Get more bang for your buck - your investment will last a lifetime. These retaining walls are built to stay put!
  • Eco friendly choice - when you go with Dig, you'll be getting retaining wall blocks made from recycled concrete

The CONs of choosing a concrete block retaining wall solution

  • Limited range of colors (it is concrete after all!)
  • A larger investment (but well worth it as above)

When deciding to get a retaining wall replaced or built from scratch, it can be difficult to choose which option best is for your property. When Dig comes by your home to do a free retaining wall estimate, we will discuss with you the options available and use our expertise to make recommendations. It's a tough decision, but we're here to help you make it!

Ready to get a retaining wall built on your property in Vancouver or the Lower Mainland? Contact us today to set up your free consultation!



Retaining wall construction and excavation in the winter time

Derek Ing

Why not get a retaining wall done in the winter?A common question we get here at Dig Yardscapes is "Can you still build me a retaining wall or do excavating in the winter?" The answer is a resounding YES! We dig year round.

Thanks to the balmy winters we get here in Vancouver, the ground is pretty much never frozen. Which means that building retaining walls and excavation projects can be done, even in the winter months. In fact, there are actually benefits to getting a retaining wall done at this time of year.

Why building a retaining wall in the winter is a good idea

  • The winter is a quieter season for us at Dig, which means it's an ideal time to hire us. You most likely won't have any waiting time to get your digging project started, or it will be a very short wait. During the busier spring and summer seasons, it might be some time before we can get to your project.
  • Your yard is not in use. Getting a retaining wall or some excavating done is a pretty messy undertaking. (Check out our Flickr page to see some pictures of retaining wall projects.)  Depending on the size of your project, your property could be out of commission for up to a week. And who wants that during the summer, when you want to use your yard for BBQs and lounging?
  • You will have more time to make your vision a reality without the pressure of getting it done asap. Whether you get us to help with the landscaping around your retaining wall, or you handle it yourself, you can take the time to get it right the first time, without worrying about your yard not being usable or presentable.

Is a retaining wall on your to-do list? Get in touch with us today and let's get your project going!

Happy Holidays from the Dig Boys

Derek Ing

Wishing you all the best for the festive season and a rocking New Year!

Even Santa needs a retaining wall

If one of your new year's resolutions is to whip your property into shape, we hope you'll think of us for your retaining wall and excavation needs! We're digging year round...gotta love the balmy Vancouver winters :)

We're digging on Facebook

Derek Ing

Dig Yardscapes on FacebookWe want to make it easy for all you wonderful folk to stay in touch with us and keep on top of Dig happenings. So we decided to get a Facebook page going. Come on over and join in the fun!

We will be sharing our latest blog posts, pictures and our adventures in retaining wall construction. Plus, we want to show you a more personal side to the Dig boys

We'd love it if you stop by and give us a like. We hope to see you there!

What lies beneath...

Derek Ing

Groundwater and your retaining wall or excavation project | Image: Francesco Marino - FreeDigitalPhotos.netWhenever we start a new excavating or retaining wall project, there is always the question in our minds “What are we going to dig up?”. Usually just dirt and rocks. And of course, we always find out where the gas and hydro lines are before starting any new digging on your property, so there won't be any surprises there.

In our latest retaining wall job in North Vancouver, in the foothills of Grouse Mountain, we discovered a new underground friend – groundwater. We were excavating away, and then were suddenly hit with a gush of water.

Groundwater can be found virtually anywhere. The area where the water fills up and pools is called a water table. The water table can be very deep down, hundreds of feet where it won’t cause any problems for an excavator, or it can be just a few feet below the surface, where a bit of digging will find it quickly. It’s recharged by rain and snow melt, which makes the areas in the Lower Mainland at the foot of mountains, such as North and West Vancouver, a hot bed of groundwater activity.

So what does severe groundwater or a high water table mean for your retaining wall or excavation project? Not to worry, we can still get the job done. Just a few things to keep in mind…

  • Depending on the amount of groundwater, it may delay the schedule of your project, as it impedes the efficiency of drainage installation and can extend build time.
  • It could also affect the estimate we gave you, especially if we have to spend a considerable amount of time dealing with the groundwater. Major groundwater also requires more filling materials than for a regular retaining wall job.
  • It will not affect the strength and stability of the retaining wall, and with the pipe we install, you will now have a proper drainage solution in place to divert the water away from your retaining wall and property, so it's actually a good thing in a way.
  • If you are using our excavation services, and will have another contractor coming in, you should let them know about the groundwater so that they can prepare their part of the project accordingly.

How to know if you have a groundwater issue? A wet basement, or one that floods often could be an indication. You can also have your soil tested by an engineer if you are concerned. And if you want to learn more about draining solutions if you do have a groundwater problem, check out this article.



Find Dig on Flickr

Derek Ing

Connect with Dig on FlickrYou can now find Dig on Flickr. We figured that you homeowners out there would be interested to see what retaining wall and other yardscape projects look like. Both during and after. We've uploaded some photos of recent retaining wall projects, as well as some pics of the Dig boys, so you can get to know us better :) 

Have we done a retaining wall for you? Or perhaps some excavation? If you have any photos, send them along and we'll put them up. Derek is ready and waiting to accept pics of your backyard transformation. Email Derek

Or, if you're already on Flickr, connect with us there...

Thanks for sharing!

 

The biggest challenge for homeowners in retaining wall construction

Derek Ing

This job in North Vancouver became a complete retaining wall reconstruction when we found the original wall was crackedIt's not getting the excavator into your property. (Our compact machine can get in anywhere)

It's not choosing the right retaining wall solution. (Our concrete block solution is hands-down the most reliable and permanent choice)

It's not picking the best retaining wall building crew. (Why it's the Dig boys of course!)

So what is the biggest challenge for you homeowners when it comes to retaining wall contruction and getting your project going?

It's the unknown. The things lurking below the surface. The extraneous variables.

What do we mean by this? Here are a couple of examples from some of our recent jobs:

  • One client had a clear vision in his mind of what he wanted for his retaining wall. Which was great, except in our initial research, we discovered that he lived in a zone red flagged for landslides in North Vancouver, and that to do what he wanted would involve much more budget than he anticipated. So, he had to be flexible in his vision.
  • Another client asked us to come in for retaining wall reinforcement and expansion. Once we started digging in though, we discovered that the original retaining wall was actually seriously cracked and would have to be completely replaced. Definitely an unforeseen circumstance - but at least the problem was discovered before the whole wall came down on someone's head!

So what's the solution? Unfortunately, until the job gets started and we get digging, there are no "for sures". Understand that our initial assessment is our best go at what you need, but that the scope and nature of the project may change as we get going. Being prepared for this possibility is half the battle, and in many cases, it won't even come into play. But don't worry, we will always communicate with you and look at the situation from all sides to find the best solution.

And for those of you out there thinking "Well, can't you just ignore the problem? I don't mind and I won't tell" - sorry to disappoint, but our answer is a resounding "No way". We stand by the integrity of our work and the safety and reliability of the retaining walls we construct. And anything, even if it seems small, that puts those walls in jeopardy will get our full attention. You can count on that.

Summer promotion - 25% off your 1st Dig job until Aug 31, 2010

Derek Ing

Hey Homeowners!

Do you have a hefty backyard project you can't tackle on your own? Are you looking for professional and timely service without digging too deep into those pockets of yours?

There's no time better than now. The Dig Team is pleased to extend a special summer promotion - 25% off your first Dig job. This promo applies to all Dig services: excavation, retainining walls, transplanting etc...

Act quickly, this promotion is only available until Aug 31, 2010

Take advantage of this limited time offer and whip your yard into shape this summer!

Contact us today via email or give us a call 604-317-1180