Where: Dubuque, Iowa

Immediate Needs: Repair existing retaining walls that had collapsed and remedy water drainage issue around foundation of the home

Additional Requests:


Some of the favorite projects of our crew at Schockemoehl Landscaping is taking existing landscapes and adding small improvements to create functional and aesthetic outdoor spaces for our clients.  For one couple in Dubuque, Iowa, their picturesque surroundings were exquisite, but drainage issues around the home’s foundation lead to flooding and frustration over the years. So we at Schockemoehl’s helped them make several changes to their yard to help it not only look better, but protect the home’s lower level.

Before we could start any shrub or flower bed work, we first had to solve the water drainage issues. We started by trenching around the home’s base and correcting the leaks with a two-step approach. The first step was to call in a subcontractor to water proof the stone foundation of the home and fill any cracks that were letting water seep in. Once that was complete, our crew brought in our drainage tile equipment to trench in the home’s downspouts. This step involved connecting plastic tubing to the ends of the downspouts and running a length of pipe underground to direct water away from the house and to an area of the yard that could better absorb rainwater and runoff. As an additional protective layer, we filled the trench around the foundation with a combination of drainage rock and tile which would allow water to better filter into the tile and prevent pooling and leakage.

Once the immediate issue of water drainage was remedied, our crew was able to tackle the next pressing concern of repairing the existing collapsed retaining walls on the property. The original retaining walls were made of natural stone, which while aesthetically pleasing could not bear the pressure of the water and soil behind the wall, leading to their collapse. Knowing that natural rock was not an option for the high PSI of this section of the acreage, our landscape designers suggested a man-made block with a finish that resembled natural stone. Man-made building products are designed to better withstand higher pressures and weights, making it more suitable for walls of this size.  During the reconstruction of the main wall, we added a staircase to help our homeowners and their guests utilize the lower to the upper outdoor spaces more efficiently.

When we moved to the backyard section of the home, we suggested the owners add another retaining wall due to the degree slope in this section of their yard. Installing retaining walls on steeper grades not only improves the ease of lawn maintenance and water drainage, but like in the case of this property, it allowed for the creation of an additional outdoor living area. Above the backyard retaining wall, we constructed a small patio for the couple, who loved to entertain. With the addition of landscape lighting around the patio’s perimeter, it allowed the couple to use the space well beyond daylight hours and gave them added security for their home.

Our last step of this landscape renovation was to address the existing features of the lawn, trees, and shrub beds. Our crew removed old tree stumps to create a cleaner look for the overall home and property, regraded and shaped the yard to improve lawn maintenance and water drainage, and then installed straw mat and seed to promote the start of the new lawn.

Throughout the process of repairing and reimagining the existing landscape of this Dubuque, Iowa, home, our crew at Schockemoehl Landscaping kept function and aesthetic appeal at the forefront of our design process. By fixing drainage issues and repurposing previously underutilized areas of the property, we were able to help the homeowners create the entertaining spaces of their dreams while protecting the foundation of their home for years to come.