Much of March and April was devoted to building a rock wall around the front and road-facing side of the house. I’d grown tired of hacking turf out of the unedged beds, and the bed on the side of the house that faces the road was too steep to hold water on the plants in it. As you can see below, within the stone wall, it wasn’t a good look. Last summer I’d gotten some quotes to build a nice stone retaining wall around this end of the house and around the front, with a flagstone front walk and stairs. The quotes ranged from $8,000-$18,000, which just wasn’t in the budget at this time in my life.
So I started pulling rocks out of piles in the woods and used the tractor to get them near the house. Some of these rocks were the foundation of the house I tore down to build mine, and others no doubt came from clearing the pastures way back when. All winter long I played around with the rocks, moving them many times until I got them arranged in a line I liked and that would almost double the depth of the bed on this front corner of the house.
I had really low expectations for this project, as I think rock-edged beds can be pretty stupid looking. And I know that a proper rock wall is dug into the ground for stability and protection against frost heave. But I made peace with the idea that this didn’t have to be a perfectly permanent solution, and I figured that if I used rocks that were as large as I could handle the installation would appear more like a rock wall and less like a line of rocks, which is exactly what it looked like below, during the head-scratching phase of this project.
I’d been having trouble with runoff from the downspout in the above photo. Every time it rained, water ran down the bed and pooled near a maple tree in the yard, messing up its mulch ring and eroding the bank. So I figured that I’d take care of this issue by burying a drainage pipe under the bed I was expanding. It was easy to dig it in and hide its opening at the inside edge of the new wall. The bottom of the pipe is dotted with quarter-sized holes that let water escape as it flows away from the downspout.
Then I went back to the woods for more rocks, some of which took every ounce of my strength and willpower to budge into the tractor bucket. I don’t remember how many trips it took, but there are 173 rocks in this installation and many are not insignificantly sized.
I spent days fiddling with rocks, turning each this way and that, trying my best to fit them into a wall-like configuration. Of course this week coincided with our freak 90-degree April heat wave. Let’s just say I got tan and back to my summer weight during this heavy-labor boot camp!
Up next, the wall continues…