First there was the task of digging into the hill to make level terraces. Eric did this, and his dad came and helped a number of times. I also shoveled a few shovelfuls of dirt. But then I was like, "Oh, hey, pregnant. Exempt." Our soil is quite sandy, so the digging was not actually that bad. (I say this having not actually done the digging of the terraces, but I have dug holes for the compost, so take that!) Eric and his dad terraced his parents' back yard at their old house, and they both agreed that the digging this time was relatively easy.
Also note that some of the digging was done before we had extended our porch so that we could get access to the hill.
dragon's blood plants in between these boulders, and those plants should spread over the next few years and pretty much hide the ugliness of the lowest retaining wall. (He got the cuttings from a neighbor whose garden was being overrun by the plants he had put in between his rocks on his wall, so we feel confident that they'll cover up the rocks nicely.)
Eric built the walls very carefully. Each rock was thoughtfully placed and fitted. The tops of the walls and the two sets of steps are about as level as you can get. Each wall is incredibly thick because behind the rocks is a wall of broken cement chunks, and in between the rocks and the cement is where he poured the cement to keep the walls together. (You can sort of see that in the bottom right picture in the third collage.)
The lowest level is very narrow, and we'll probably put some plants that do not need a lot of water there. Then we don't have to worry about putting a sprinkler line along that level. There are lots of beautiful plants that thrive in the desert. (Eric has been checking out this website, so we've already got some ideas of what we'd like.) We aren't entirely sure what we'll do with the next two levels. I definitely want a few trees on the highest level to help with the intense setting sun that permeates my kitchen/dining/living area every afternoon all summer long. And we might put in a fire pit. ("We" obviously just means Eric, even though I can no longer play the pregnancy card. I'm sure I'll be busy keeping the children out of his way.) We've got all winter to think about it, and hopefully sometime next summer I'll be writing a post about our beautiful back yard.
And obviously this will be a place of many family pictures. We took the first one on Sunday so we'd have something decent for our Christmas card.