Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Build Yourself a Small Rock Wall



This past month  I have been working hard on getting the first project done in our new garden so I can share it with you! After not having a big garden for several years I am so not in shape to "rock and dig," as my father used to say. If this were a One Room Challenge I would say that 6 weeks to get it done is pretty much perfect, Lol!

However, I am not letting being out of shape keep me from creating this first rock wall project and frankly after the first day of five hours and finishing at 9:00pm, a really good stretching session before bed, and a hot shower, I felt stronger and my back felt better.

I am really excited to share this big project with you...





These are the inspiration photos I shared earlier this spring in this post here. Today's tutorial will help you make a dry stacked rock wall for your very own garden.
:)




In these inspiration photographs is the color of limestone I wanted ~ a white or cream chopped stone. 



How to begin your rock wall

First you'll want to visit a rock yard and decide on what type of stone you would like. I drove up to BnB Stone in Sanger, Texas to visit my friend Chris who is the manager there. I've known Chris ever since I moved to Texas as he and his wife live at Wagon Master RV Park and Alpaca Farm from which we just moved. 

*Be sure to tell them I sent you when you go up there, thanks! This post isn't sponsored but I would love to be!!! {hint hint} 

Better yet, send them an email at: bnbstone@gmail.com and let them know you love their stone and that I featured them here at French Ethereal! {Huge thank-you! :D}





Here's the man himself! He was a great help showing me all the
different stone types BnB has to offer the public. They sell these
wonderful metal repurposed sparkplug butterflies, too, along
with other metal sculptures ~ really adorable!


Chris suggested I go with a "sawn chopped stone." Sawn stone has had the top and bottom edges cut flat making them much easier to stack and to stay stacked.

Great idea! ;)

In the inspiration photographs above is the color of limestone I wanted ~ a white or cream chopped stone. 



Lay out your wall

I began by measuring from the center of the window to each outside wall (94") and laid out our garden hose for a rough estimate of how I want this garden wall to look. 


When you lay out yours, play around with the "height" or distance from the wall in the center of your arc, if you make an arched wall like this one. Mine ended up being about 65" from the house wall itself creating a nice big garden space for these roses and future plants.



Next I used a can of orange spray paint and drew my arc. This is your digging line and really helps to keep things even.

Don't worry if you have to change the curve or lines a bit as you go or have to repaint due to rain. I worked on this rock wall over 20 hours and a two-week period so I had to spray a couple of times. The paint dries up and becomes inert so it won't harm the environment ~ something I looked at beforehand. But it will permanently paint small rocks.   
;)


Level the ground

This is the toughest part of making any rock wall ~ leveling the ground under each stone in both horizontal and "vertical" directions, for each stone and from stone-to-stone all along your bottom row. Just keep a trowel handy to shovel dirt under any low corners as you go with each stone. You'll be burying your stone a couple of inches, too, with that first layer. 

The beauty of getting it right the first time, even though it is really time consuming, is that your wall will stay level unless tree roots grow under it. I chopped off all the big roots and feeder roots which would grow into this bed in the weeks before I began digging. This is a good way to while clean up the yard of storm debris, too. 

Keep a bucket handy for any stray acorns (I had zillions!) and grubs you'll not want growing in your garden bed. 



French Country Peach Tuteur Trellises capture your attention as soon as enter the walkway

Judith at Botanic Bleu shared her Peach French Tuteur Garden Trellis recently and this is one of the ideas I really like for a garden pathway. Doesn't it remind you of cobbles and she used the exact same stone as I did but the uncut version. J'aime cela! {Love this!}





 Clean up your stone

When you need to chip off some stone to make your stones closer together, use a stone mason's chisel and a hammer. Place the chisel's beveled edge against the stone facing outward and whack it hard. Refine the edge as needed to clean off leftover pieces of stone. This is the tough part and it will make you really tired! 

Since I like my stone to be fairly symmetrical from the centered out, I had to rearrange some early stones after I passed the center of my wall. You can begin your wall from the center outward but fairly soon you will see that it doesn't really work since you have to level from the beginning, so it's best to start left-to-right or right-to-left.

Trying a third layer of stone...

Here I went back and chipped off the second layer of stones to make them sit close together since they would be the top stones. The gaps in the first layer are for easy drainage and also because there was no way I was going back to try and fix the spacing more ~ it was tough enough just getting everything level! Lol!!! :)

A side view of the planter with just the corner of the playhouse
visible on the very left.

Totals for everything

All in all I am happy with how this planter wall turned out. I won't kid you and say this isn't a lot of hard physical labor because it is, but you'll feel really good physically when you are all done, your shoulders and arms will look better, and your back will be aligned. Cheaper than any gym or spa session!  
;)

Total time: This was about 20-22 hours of digging the trench, leveling the ground and between each stone on the bottom layer as each brick was laid. The first layer takes so long because of this but the second layer puts up in half the time. I worked on this project over two weeks with 5 1/2 hours the first day, and shorter times for the rest of the days.

Total costs: $68.00 for the cream chopped stone ~ $44.00 for 1/4 ton (250 lbs. of 4"w x 6"deep, in various lengths). $24.00 for a 1/3 ton (350 lbs. of 4" x 4", in various lengths). The second batch of stones were lighter over all so they cost less, woo hoo!

Exhaustion and pride in good work? Yes, lots!!! I have to say I slept really well after each day of working on this wall. A good hot shower or bath, stretching all major muscle groups and especially the forearms and hands really helps, too. :)

A picture to pin, thank you!

I hoped to have a final "planted photograph" for you but this will have to do for now. My friend Joe just dropped off a yard of stones just this past weekend and it'll be another two weeks of turning the dirt, putting in stones at the bottom where the clay layer is and digging in compost to help with drainage.

*Here's where the cute playhouse photo ought to be however I never shot photos towards the fence due to the "ugly" around the shed ~ a bunch of cement blocks, piles of wood, the iron railing in back, and our white plastic storage. Now there's torn down fencing there... No wonder I don't have a cute picture for you!  :(

On a fun note! *Joe's young daughters came over to help and you know that little playhouse we adopted when we bought the house?  (See the smidgen of the playhouse in two photos up...)

Well, good trade! The little house went home with them in their truck! No final photo for you but I have a really cute memory of the playhouse sitting in sideways in the truck as Joe was driving away and two girls couldn't be happier...
:)



More soon...

4 comments:

  1. I bet that looks amazing as the summer progresses and your plants fill in. I love a stone wall!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love the idea! Your stone wall looks amazing and it adds a touch of sophistication to your garden. Planting flowers all around it makes a garden appear like a small magical forest from fairytales. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Barb,
    There is such satisfaction in doing a job yourself. Of course, I am loving your white limestone wall. Thank you for sharing my stone wall as part of your inspiration.

    Looking forward to seeing more of this project,

    Judith

    ReplyDelete
  4. That stone is beautiful and I know what you mean about doing the job yourself, Barb - it feels so good, even if you feel muscles you didn't even know you had! Thank you for sharing at Party In Your PJ's!

    ReplyDelete

I appreciate your leaving me a comment, thank you!
Hugs,
Barb :)

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