I’m excited to show you the “after pictures” of Phase 1 of my project. Before I go any further I want to thank Virginia, my colleague in music and in gardening, for her amazing help yesterday. I definitely recommend doing this kind of project with a friend. It’s more fun and of course, proceeds much more quickly. It also helps if that friend has a bit more experience with hardscaping than I do!
The first photo shows the work site after Virginia and I removed the sod that lined the front walk so we could lay down the first row of stones. This was probably the hardest part, actually. The sod was hard packed and riddled with roots from the tree and grass. The upside of that hard packed soil is that it will make a good base for the rock wall we built. As you can see, we decided to make our wall in a U shape to soften all the hard lines in its surroundings; the sidewalk, the front walk, and the steps up to the house are all straight, rigid lines. I thought of the snow removal vehicules when we indented the wall by about a foot from the sidewalk and left the corners with ample room for them to maneuver, I hope!
The next photo shows the first two rows of stones we laid. We lay down geo-textile under the stones and right up to the sidewalk. We didn’t use the bio-degradable stuff for this area since I want it to inhibit growth for the foreseeable future, both under the wall and between the wall and the sidewalk. We lay down cedar mulch to hide the geo-textile.
We shaped the soil under the rocks so that the wall would slant into the earth, not away from it. Each stone had to be studied as we lay it to make sure that it was indeed sloping the right way. As Virginia said, choosing the stones was a bit like doing a puzzle. We didn’t have a ton of stones to choose from but we managed to find the right ones to make the wall fit together. The rocks are not uniform either in shape or colour, so it was a challenge and the effect is certainly rustic, but I like it. I love the idea of re-using material from the land. The flat stones came from Dave’s brother’s farm in Ontario and the rounder ones came from a construction site near Virginia’s place in Terrebonne. The builders were going to get rid of them, so she helped herself! You can pay a lot for stones at a building supply store, so I’m grateful for the donations.
After the wall was built we lay the bio-degradable geo-textile (ordered from Lee Valley) and tucked that well under the wall, then back filled the area with new soil that I ordered in bulk from Jasmin. It’s hard to tell exactly but I think we put at least a 4 inch depth of soil in the area between the tree and the wall. We tried to grade the area a bit so the slope toward the house will not be as steep as it was. Virginia brought a wheel barrow with two wheels made of tough plastic that works really well for carrying soil, etc. It’s more stable than a one-wheeled wheelbarrow, like the one I picked out of the garbage a few years ago and that now has a flat tire. I was very happy she brought hers!
That’s what we accomplished yesterday and were we ever happy with our day’s work! You’d think I would sleep like a baby, but no such luck. It took me awhile to fall asleep and then I awoke at 4, completely bright and bushy-tailed.
The last photo shows the completed work, including a layer of mulch I laid onto the soil today to impede weed growth and to keep the soil from blowing away until I get to planting. My plan is to put in some ground cover this fall along with some other shallow-rooted perennials.
In the spring I’ll dig some deeper holes to plant other things, such as hosta and ferns. I hope by then the grass underneath will be completely dead and starting to compost.
It was great to spend the day working hard with an enthusiastic friend and having the warm glow of accomplishment when it was over. Even without flowers, it’s a big improvement. I’m not sure how much more I’ll get done before winter, and I’ll no doubt be doing more pondering and head-scratching as I figure out how to put in the rock garden. That will be a job! Anybody feel like pitching in??
Time to relax and listen to music. Here’s “Make our Garden Grow” by Bernstein from “Candide”. Jerry Hadley and Renée Fleming. It gets a bit loud and over-the-top at the end but I love the beginning of this song.
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