Retaining wall 101:
Start at the bottom. Work up and around from there.
That's some nasty soil to dig in. Actually it's not bad if you can break it up w/ a jackhammer and spade bit. Not like it's clay or rocky. It's just that it's a high % decomposed granite. When prepping the site for the poole we cut it out and refilled/compacted to 90%. It required copious amounts of water and a D6 Cat rolling it out lift by lift (level by level). You might recall from earlier posts...
Up and around to the northside. This footing runs due East/West. Tricky digging and piling the tailings -- on a 1:1 slope that's compacted, dry and therefore slicker 'n spit on a doorsnob.
Robin setting the cornerstone at the low point on the NW corner.
Lucas winding down at the end of a day of heavy lifting. This patio area was a good 2' higher at the start of the day. He and the other men are recently from Burundi. What they may lack in refined efficient skills with a shovel and wheelbarrow they more than make up for in enthusiasm. Solomon said "A man's hunger urges him on." Yup. I'd say so.
It doesn't show but the Son&Heir and the other men wheeled a good 2 tons of rock and another yd of fill dirt from down below to fill and level the base for the deck above the raised pool wall.