SKL New York

Weekend Project: Stacking stones

I have several projects going at the moment, but this one in particular, took my undivided attention and energy over the weekend.  On the south side of the property, I am slowly transforming a densely overgrown wilderness into naturally manicured pathways and loosely landscaped areas.  (You can see some of the early progress here.)

It is a slow process, particularly due to the amount of poison ivy that happily grows here.  Needless to say, I wear long sleeves, pants tucked into boots and gloves, followed by a vigorous scrub with Joy soap (which BTW, is the best deterrent against that itchy stuff, when exposed areas are scrubbed within 20 minutes of exposure). I also keep a healthy supply of Calamine lotion on hand, just in case.

But back to the project…

As everything is in full growing mode, the south side of the property began to look like an unkempt, abandoned yard.  I don’t mind the natural forest feel, but it needed something to help define the property boundary and begin to frame that side of the house.  So I decided to build a low stacked rock wall.

As it so happens, the soil here is so thick with rocks that any time one attempts to dig a hole for planting, several rocks will need to be removed – ranging in size from a pebble to a large boulder.  Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult to determine whether a seemingly small rock you are attempting to dig out will ultimately reveal itself to weigh a few hundred pounds.  Nonetheless, I needed lots of rocks.

The before and after photos are below, but just a quick word on the process.

First, I cleared out all the weeds, ivy, overgrown and unwanted plants to a semi-set back point from the road and began to mark the path of the wall. (I didn’t want the wall too close to the street to prevent it from being destroyed in the winter when the snow plows come tumbling through.)  As I cleared plants, I discovered several large (mostly buried) rocks.  These were perfect because I didn’t have to drag them (or roll them) too far to get into place.  The hardest part about building a stacked rock wall is just getting the rocks to the place you want them to be, especially the larger ones.

A wheelbarrow is ideal, but for lack of one, I used a kid’s wagon to load rocks from different areas and bring them to the wall location.  Having all the rocks nearby helped me to see the shapes and connect them like a puzzle.  Using rocks that “fit” together allowed me to build a natural wall without cement or mortar, since the weight of the rocks will keep them in place.  Then I picked up some black mulch and created a small border to accentuate the wall and keep the weeds at bay.  After seeing how nice the dark mulch looked in contrast to the lighter rock wall, I think I will try to find some black gravel or pebbles – but this will have to do for now.  The colors will begin to show even more, since I dug out most of the rocks and they are still covered with mud and dirt.  But a few nice rainy days will reveal all their natural beauty!

Here are the BEFORE and AFTER photos:

more after photos

I liked the look of the classic black mulch so much that I used it on a walkway in the front of the house, as well.

This entry was published on June 4, 2012 at 6:33 pm. It’s filed under Exteriors and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

3 thoughts on “Weekend Project: Stacking stones

  1. Pingback: For the Love of Gloves « SKL New York

  2. Pingback: A Little Goes a Long Way – UPDATE « SKL New York

  3. Pingback: Saturating the Shade « SKL New York

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