September 8, 2013

Pleased With the Result

I am pleased with how my first ever attempt at building a dry stacked stone wall came out.  Not happy with the process, and we were awfully naive about the amount of physical labor and technical skill needed, but here it is, and it is more than ok.

We backfilled with all the dirt that we had previously spent days hauling away, and that has given it some stability. We never did figure out how to use mortar to affix pieces along the way, so we skipped that part entirely.

It's done now. The Advil is back in the cabinet, my knees are healing over.

Apparently I bought a pallet of "wallstone", which are fieldstones. They are irregular and not as flat and even as flagstones, and that explains a lot of my frustration -- I kept envisioning a more fitted, easier to stack, low and tidy wall, but the materials wanted to be a chunky rough wall.

Well, next time I'll know.

It does what I want -- holds back the slope of dirt from the raised garden, offers a sense of enclosure to the space behind it, defines the edge of the pavers.

Eventually the young smokebush in the garden above the wall will become large and fill the open space. I transplanted some lambsear that had been struggling in too much shade to the corner just to fill in a little.

I am very pleased, but I do have a few critiques.

First, I am not sure why the wall does not span the width of the pavers. The left corner stops short, making an odd hillock of dirt between the corner of the wall and the metal arbor. Why didn't I build it right up to the arbor's edge? That was the point -- not to have a little hill of dirt sloping down to the pavers.

I'll have to figure out how to hold back those few inches of dirt, but wasn't that what the wall was supposed to do?

And the right side ends in an odd curve under the dwarf blue spruce. I think I can fix that, but again I am puzzled why the wall doesn't go all the way to the corner.

There are other defects that only the builder would see, so I'll spare you those, and try not to see them myself.

Overall, for a first time attempt, using the wrong kind of rocks, this came out great.

31 comments:

  1. I fully agree. It is beautiful. You and Jim can be proud of your work. Don't look at the ends. ;) I didn't even notice until you brought it to my attention.

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    1. Lisa, I am not going to look at the ends -- you're right, no one else would notice : )

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  2. LOVE IT!! So fabulous! I'd plant something that cascades down over the rocks between the wall and the stone path to hide the part that bugs you. But I think you did an incredible job. I think the chunky stones look better, anyway. They are less uniform and have more personality. :o)

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    1. Tammy, I agree that the chunkier fieldstones are more fitting for my garden style -- I just didn't know it!

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  3. Yes, it came out great! I am so impressed! I didn't know the difference between fieldstone and flagstone, but I'm kind of glad you made that 'mistake'. Otherwise, you wouldn't have the heart in the wall, and that gives it so much personality!

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    1. Holley, That heart was a find, and I'm glad you see personality in this wall -- that tickles me!

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  4. Laurrie, I am very impressed. The wall looks wonderful! It was definitely worth all the effort you put into it, and the heart makes the wall extra special. Congratulations!

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    1. Deb, thank you so much. If I had a guy like your stone guy I never would have tackled this. But, left to our devices, we had to do it, and it was worth the steep learning curve (and aches).

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  5. I think it is beautiful! It is hard to believe that it's your first attempt! You are being way too hard on yourself!

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    1. Zoey, you are so kind! I do think it came out great, and the memory of all the pain and aggravation will fade, and then I will think it's even better : )

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  6. It is certainly more than okay! And I'm glad you sound more like your usual cheery self. The wall, as you know, looks absolutely wonderful.

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    1. Lyn, thanks! I am feeling cheerier -- now that the thing is finished and looks good. And my achy body is getting back to normal.

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  7. Nicely done! Even with the blips :)
    I have had the dubious pleasure of repairing a few fieldstone walls (the Old fieldstone walls, where the smallest rock is about the size of a big bread loaf; and the biggest well, oxen were involved in moving them...) It is very much a 3D jigsaw puzzle, and when the pieces weigh in at 25 pounds and up!, you really get to practice deliberation and consideration. I gained a whole new respect for my ancestors!

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    1. Acair Fearann, While we were building this little wall, I constantly thought of the endless miles of rock walls around us, dug and built by hand by our ancestors. How did they do it? With oxen and horses like you did, but still, most of it was lifted and toted by hand!

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  8. It came it more than great lady it came out fantastic!!!! It is gorgeous! The perfect solution for that space! I can not get over the fact that you both did this by hand! So much work is an understatement!! But the point is that you did it! No one else...and that is what rocks! Well done friend!!!

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    1. Nicole, thank you! I do look at this little wall and think "we did it ourselves" -- a nice thought!

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  9. A person is always more critical of his own work than others are. I can't see a flaw anywhere--I think the finished wall is beautiful, and I'm so impressed you and your husband did it yourself! I wouldn't know the difference between fieldstone and flagstone either, but from the photos you show of the two, I think the fieldstone is more appealing. Love the heart in the middle!

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    1. Rose, thanks! I guess I do like the more rustic fieldstone better too -- just wasn't what I expected!

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  10. You should be proud! It looks amazing! Just remember, whatever the flaws, "they will never be seen from a galloping horse."

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    1. Sarah, that explains your blog title! I will always remember that -- no flaws can be seen from a galloping horse. Love it!

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  11. It's perfect. Well done! And now you can file it under "fun things I'll never do again." :)

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    1. Heather, amen. We won't do it again, but it was rewarding to have done it once. Sort of.

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  12. I think it looks amazing. I don't seen any defects at all. :)

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    1. Aaron, Thanks. If I close my eyes I don't see any defects either ; )

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  13. Well wrong kind of rocks or not I think it looks fantastic! Very impressive. I can not even begin to imagine what it would look like if I were to take that on......

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    1. Kacky, thanks so much -- I think they were the right kind of rocks in the end, I just didn't realize what I was trying to build at the time!

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  14. Laurrie, your wall looks great, as I expected it would. I love the addition of the upright stones ... a technique I've also used. Regarding the end/corner transitions, seek out a few rocks that are large and narrow enough to sink an end into the soil a few inches for stabilization, yet stand high enough to hold back the soil ... think of a thick, somewhat flat fieldstone stood on end so it leans toward the soil bank. I'm thinking of stones similar in shape to the triangle-shaped one placed on edge in the wall. I often use this technique in odd transition areas at the ends of short stacked stone walls. It helps stabilize the soil and continues the look of the wall.

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    1. Joene, great suggestion, I will fool around with some end rocks as you suggest. I have plenty left over to try to work with.

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  15. Frustrated? I think the result is better than if you'd have used flagstones, the fieldstones look more natural, which would perfectly fit in a garden

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    1. George, I agree, the result turned out better with the fieldstones rather than what I think I was envisioning!

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  16. The wall you built is awesome. As mentioned in a previous comment, I agree, the wall looks very "natural". I have a patio made of similar pavers, and ~wish~ I'd considered installing a raised bed just like this around it! I know it must have been a huge and painful job for you and your husband, but the end product is beautiful. Love the large flat surfaces of the exposed top row stones. I also agree with a previous comment that a spilling, weeping or creeping plant of some sort on the ends would be a perfect solution if you still feel it needs a finishing touch. Great job!

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