The Upside of the Downslope

Spring has sprung here in the Napa Valley and it couldn’t be more beautiful. Mustard seed is everwhere:

Taken on bikeride in the Coombsville AVA

All of our plants are budding and the insectory we planted is buzzing with bees and butterflies!

A swallowtail enjoying the bees bliss we planted

And just when I thought we were done with major projects, my husband wanted to finish just one more (again!).
Ok, we were both itching to finish the downslope of the property. Cleaning it up was already a huge process, but we wanted to make it more accessible by putting in new stairs, and flat sections with retaining walls.
Now Shawn has never been much a of a do-it-yourself-er so imagine my shock when he dug out all three of the trenches for the flat parts of the pathway himself. That was a lot of work!

As you can see in the above photo, he did hit a few rocks. They would have to be jackhammered by the landscape crew.
Next, the landscape crew came in to install the retaining walls. First the posts were cemented in.

Then the retaining walls built:

Then the pathways built up and drainage installed:

And then it was onto the stairs. You may recall when we cleaned out the downslope, we uncovered all of the old railway ties. First, they had to be taken out. Because they contained arsenic, we had to find a facility to dispose of them.

Summer 2011
Then the new stairs were installed. All 117 of them!

My next post will show the befores and afters of the downslope. Stay tuned!



Welcome to The Napa Project, where I write about our five year remodel of a mid century home in Napa, California.

6 thoughts on “The Upside of the Downslope

  1. YOWZA! I thought our fence was impressive but this blows pickets off of it. Good grief this is fabulous! 117 stairs!!!! 117! And what beautiful stairs they are. The wall is equally lovely. The choice of wood and the hardware holding it all together is SUPER mod looking. It all fits so perfectly.

    Great job. This was a huge project that will no doubt bring you so much joy. I’d be truckin’ down 117 stairs as much as I possibly could if I had this gorgeous slope. You truly have an amazing house/view/piece of property.

    1. Thank you very much, Stacey! At this point I am so glad I took so many before pictures because it was truly a neglected jungle! Yes, about 117 stairs in one loop. Did I mention this is also a booty boot camp??? My record so far is 11 rounds and my quads were barking the next day.

      My husband read your comment and is quite pleased with himself because apparently he picked out that hardware, which I did not know lol. “I was very precise on everything we bought – the bolts also match the deck ones on the house – just may have to make my rounds and go check the awesomeness of them right now”.

      Oh dear, now look what you’ve done! I’m going to be hearing about this all day!

    1. Thanks Dana! Wait until you see the before and after. The real estate agent that represented the seller said ‘Wow, I didn’t realize there was so much useable property’. Well, duh, when it’s covered with years worth of overgrowth!

  2. Michelle, if you husband is “not much a do it yourselfer” did you fall over amazed when you saw the cleared out trench. I know I would. Actually, not to pour salt on the ego, but I noticed the hardware right away. Nice job. We have a tiny little strip of yard to clear out and re-plant (why do the darn plants go and grow all the time?) and I am dragging my lazy A$$ and not doing it. Maybe, just maybe I will get to work.

    1. I was pretty amazed! I delivered him water lol. Took him a few weeks, a few hours a day. The nice thing is he is really starting to enjoy it. It’s a nice break from sitting in front of a computer. And he is saving us money.
      At least you probably don’t have to deal with rocks! Even my little flower garden I planted was painstaking!

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