Blog Be Rollin’ Again

Brooke here.  North Carolina took a long time to shake off the dickishness of winter–as of two weeks ago, we were still losing power to ice storms on a fairly regular basis–but it’s finally spring! So, time to dust off the home blog and start posting again.

…where were we? Let me reread some of these older entries…

Ah yes, we were complaining about how this place is a wreck and is  emotionally and financially ruining us. Let’s just put a pin in those complaints and save them for the next post, shall we?

Right. Positive things. Almost two years ago, I scrounged through the trash heaps at a stone yard and ended up buying several tons of granite. This granite was reclaimed from a project down in Georgia; someone mentioned a church but I forget the whole story. (I’ve been reading a lot of Harry Dresden lately so let’s just pretend these stones are sanctified and can keep vampires away.) We’re planning to use this granite in a few retaining walls throughout the property. Since neither Brown nor myself has ever built a real stone wall before, I decided to build a small one to test the difficulty level. I picked a site at the front of the house which was basically nothing but a leftover mulch pile.

Landscape with rotting mulch and 2003 Honda Civic.
Landscape with rotting mulch and 2003 Honda Civic.

First things first: I spent a full day yanking the thicket creeper and the climbing dogbane that had snuck into the mulch pile. Those buggers were tough, but hey. Ivy. It was so cute how the the dogbane thought it was an invasive species! Then I shoveled old mulch until I hit dirt. When I found the live stump of a holly bush, I tapped out so Brown could dig in. The stump was an iceberg, tiny at the top and massive beneath. Getting that thing out of the ground took him two hours of aggressive swear-shoveling.

I was on a Gatorade run when he finally got it out. I like to think he threw the stump on the driveway and dropped the mattock like a mike.
I was on a Gatorade run when he finally got it out, but I imagine he threw the stump on the driveway and dropped the mattock like a mike.

Once the stump was out, I leveled the ground and we plotted out the line of the stone wall. Then we started placing stones.

Back view of stone wall, lined with heavy-duty landscape fabric to prevent soil erosion due to runoff.
Back view of stone wall, lined with heavy-duty landscape fabric to prevent soil erosion due to runoff.

Since I love the look of these mixed-stone drystack walls, I’ve been scrounging scraps from different stone yards to mix into the granite. I was aiming for a 5:1 ratio of brown stones to granite, to make the granite stand out.

Stone wall, mostly finished.
Stone wall, mostly finished, with bright green house.

There are tons of interesting details in these stones. Tool marks, cut surfaces, rough surfaces, even a round hole or two. It turns out I’m fairly bad-ass with a hammer and chisel, as I was able to cut stones to fit. I used heavy-duty masonry epoxy to bind the smaller stones to the larger ones, and by the end of yesterday, we had a This:

New wall, with new dirt. Ready for planting... and... and... Oh God our house is SO GREEN.
New wall, with new dirt. Ready for planting… and… and… Oh God our house is SO GREEN.

I threw some fresh mulch over the new dirt to keep the weed seeds off, and called it done. Next? Flowers. Actual gardening. Guys, you have no idea how happy this makes me, to finally have a part of the property that can be turned into a flowerbed.

I am glad that we built a test wall, though. Turns out that it takes a lot more stone to complete a wall than anticipated. And I banged the absolute crap out of my finger, so Brown’s probably right about wearing “shoes” with “toes” on projects like this. Go figure.

 

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13 thoughts on “Blog Be Rollin’ Again

  1. Pingback: Disasterhouse update | K.B. Spangler

  2. carmen

    You guys are amazing! And I am so proud of what you’ve done. The wall looks so good-i know it was a lot of hard work, but it looks great. You’re so clever!

  3. Steel-toed boots. Sturdy gloves. Googles. GOGGLES. GOGGLES!!!

    Looks good, though. It is tough to do, but has lasting results.

    Did I mention goggles? Eye protection is an absolute necessity when working with stone and hammers… even stone dust on its own can be very damaging.

  4. MyWord

    A nice looking wall. And boy am I glad I only have a balcony…

    You could just have lined the drive with holly bushes. 😉

  5. Anonymous

    Sooo jealous. And no sympathy for the ice storms…I’m still under over a foot of snow (cut itself in half just today, it did) here in Upper Michigan…but your wall looks awesome, and is inspiring me to go pick through my ‘poor rock’ piles for something… 🙂

  6. Rin

    I hope you come back and start posting again. We are about to buy a 67 year old house (its adorable! we can do *so* many things with it! surely the little imperfections won’t bother us, just look at Otter, she loves her house!)

    1. Rin

      uh oh… I just scrolled down to the start of your blog. New roof, new paint, and a new AC unit…. all of these things are true of the house we are in the process of buying. Also, our house is a few years older than yours…. No disaster pool to worry about though! Nor Ivy. I’m safe then right?

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