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Retaining wall with seating

Hi! My name is Katie and my husband and I have dug out a small hillside in our backyard for a fire pit. We want to have seating built into the wall. We are nearly done digging out the space and nervously researching our next steps. I can’t seem to find an answer on a question about the seating area. We did not dig out the space for the seating, we have assumed we can lay the retaining wall on that “shelf” of undisturbed dirt. And then place stone (and necessary sand/stone for leveling) on top of said “shelf” of undisturbed dirt. We are in Northern CA, we are down into some really hard layers at that point. 

Is it safer to dig out the seating and build out the seating from a completely dug out space or are we ok to leave that undistirbed dirt shelf?


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