Oh, My! The Slope is Steep in Back! Adding Additional Terracing May Help

After discussing the slope situation in front of the house, we move to the back and the slope there. Our group includes Kevin, the geometra Jimmy, the general contractor Francisc, and a landscape designer Paula.

The first thing we discuss is the size of the flat area behind house. It’s rather small, with not much room before there is a steep drop off to the levels below. We had designed it this way to try to save the nice fig tree that sits fairly near the house.

Photo of back of house
Flat Area Behind House
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Moving down the hill, we can see that the fig is very close to the current level behind the house, making it difficult to extend the level area.

Slope Behind House
Slope Behind the House
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Moving down the hill some more to the garden level below the house and looking back up the hill, it’s easy to see the drop off we have now is too severe. Based on the original land diagrams from Jimmy, we had planned on four plateaus: parking, house, garden, pool. Now we decided needed five, with two rather than one between the house and pool: parking, house, garden 1, garden 2, and pool.

Back Up the Slope
Looking Back Up the Slope
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Slope down to pool
Pool from Current Level Below House
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It became pretty clear that the fig’s position was limiting our options. We couldn’t extend the house plateau and have an opportunity to make the slope more manageable without removing it. Paula said that maybe it can be moved, but it’s uncertain if it will work and it’s probably expensive. Trying not to feel too bad about losing the tree, we reminded ourselves that in the current position is does block some of the view and that, as we learned when we lived in Raleigh, a new fig tree will grow pretty fast.

To build these plateaus on the hillside, we will need some sort of earth retention. One option is to build retaining walls. Jimmy proposed a system that is less expensive. It’s built using horizontal grids of iron, which are layered with a level of earth on top of each grid. They stabilize the soil over time as it settles and compacts. Plus, the iron will eventually decay, making it more earth-friendly than the other option using pvc grids.

Overall, to go with our unresolved situation in front of the house, we don’t have a solution behind the house, either. However we resolve these problems, a lot of soil needs to be added and moved by heavy equipment. The costs for this work is unknown, but I’m sure it’s not in the budget.

To get us moving to find some solutions, Jimmy will provide a survey showing the five plateau concept. Paula is to develop a proposal to design a long-term landscaping plan that deals with these immediate issues but which can be completed over time. We’re going to give Paula an idea of the types of plantings we’d like to see.

Now it’s time for lunch. Were we and our little rental car stuck at the bottom of the slope?

Fortunately, I was able to get the car up the driveway. I got a running start in first gear and, though the car whined and threatened to stall, we made it. A bit of flat and then another steep section on the access road. You need to keep your speed up the whole way to the top, even around corners, so we’ll need to install some mirrors to make sure no one is coming the other way.

Kevin says the road and driveway will be improved after construction is complete, but the slope will still be there. I’m now concerned about access for guests in their little rental cars. Plus, what do we do when it snows? We’ll have an unplowed driveway and road, uphill and unpaved for the first 1km. We may find ourselevs trapped until the snow melts.

We need to consider having a 4wd vehicle, but then we run into two other issues: without being residents, we can’t own a car and they are expensive to rent, like €300 a day (!). There is a leasing option that works for trips over about 3 weeks and the way to do it is to pick up the car in France.

I guess we just need to consider all of this part of the adventure of Casa Avventura.

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