Sunday, June 19, 2011

An Urban Stone Garden Wall

Craig removes sod and starts digging out the slope
You'd think a guy would feel entitled to take it easy on Fathers' Day. But no; we had planned to build a retaining wall across the front of our yard this weekend, and yesterday's rain left us with only today to tackle the job, and Craig was determined to get it done. He had suggested that we allow ourselves a leisurely start to the day and that we would begin the project at noon, but at a little after ten, he was done with all that lounging around and ready to get to work. With shovel in hand, he headed to the front yard and started to dig.
The first layer is set on a ditch filled with gravel.

I rode my bike to Mother Earth Gardens to buy something to plant in the wall, and settled on a creeping veronica called 'Waterperry blue' (you may think that's a typo, and I would agree with you that 'waterberry' makes more sense, but it's spelled with a 'p' on the tag). Besides the pretty sky-blue flowers in the picture on the tag, and its creeping habit, and the notation that it's a good rock garden plant, and its tolerance for part shade, I was sold on the care instructions: "Thrives in nearly any soil and requires little attention." It came in a pack of six small plants, just right for placing here and there in the wall.

It's getting there

Yesterday we had gone to Klier's garden center on Nicollet and 59th to get some class 5 gravel for the wall's base. Klier's has gravel in bulk, and we put a tarp in the back of the car (a Honda Fit, which is a hatchback) and brought a couple of shovels. Just when we got there, it started to pour. The wet gravel was pretty heavy and dense (class 5 is a limestone gravel with the crushed dust included, which makes it pack down to a firm base while still providing drainage, but it also makes it a lot like cement when wet), so we soon decided that we had enough.
Craig sweeps up

For stones, we had decided to use the broken chunks of sidewalk that Craig has been removing from the backyard. That wasn't our original plan; we were going to have all the sidewalk chunks hauled away and then at some point in the future buy nice limestone rocks to make a wall. Then we had to admit that we're not as rich as we sometimes think we are, and, besides, there's something appealing about recycling the sidewalk on property. Also, a polite note from the city inspector persuaded us that it was time to do something with that pile of concrete by the alley.

So, we built a wall. Our original plan was to build one on both sides of the steps, but we're kind of rethinking that right now. We'll see how we feel about that next weekend.

A lady's mantle (Alchemilla mollis) accents the corner

1 comment:

  1. I like that you reused your sidewalk. when my neighbors across the street removed their Driveway into Nothingness, I got their permissions to take some of the stepping-stone-size chunks and made paths through my front garden. I find it irksome to buy things that occur in nature, like soil or rocks. That doesn't extend to plants, of course, which I gladly rescue from retailers so they can live out their remaining days in my yard.


Thanks for reading, and for sharing your thoughts.