Sunday, September 27, 2015

Stone Turtle

I hired myself to do some stone work last week. The designer (that would be me) didn't really have a plan. The supplier (me) had some extra fieldstones left over from the low wall that was professionally built this summer along the east side of the house.

The laborer (me again) didn't have any direction, but got the project done. The homeowner (that's me too) was pleased enough when it was done.

Here it is:

I built a dry stacked wall. It's only six feet long, and it's no work of art, but it solved a problem.

The problem was the steel edging that holds the pea stone in place in the gravel sitting area. The edging is about 5 inches high, sunk into the ground. It's the barrier between the gravel and the adjacent gardens. It's not supposed to be visible, but it sticks up all around the perimeter of the area.

In some areas plants spill over the edge and hide the black steel strip, at least in summer when they are in leaf. But as the gravel has settled over the years and as the soil on the other side has sunk also, the strip is increasingly sticking up in most areas. No matter how much I rake gravel toward the edge, and no matter how much dirt I pile on the other side, the steel edging pokes up.

One successful way to hide the edging has been creeping thyme (Thymus serpyllum). It loves the hot dry gravel and spreads out into it. This is a corner of the gravel garden, and the black strip, which you can see on one side, makes a 90 degree turn to the left and is completely hidden by the green carpet of thyme.

That white egg-shaped stone is a turtle, emerging from the sea of thyme onto the dry shore of gravel. Things get markedly metaphysical in my garden at times.

The real problem was at the far end of the gravel area, where the gravel just ended at lawn. There is a dip in the lawn there, and the steel edging was really sticking up well above the grass. It would have taken a lot of fill to create an extension of the garden border here and plant it. I didn't have soil to fill that area up to the top of the strip.

So I cleaned out the grass, laid some crushed gravel, and then stacked the leftover fieldstone in a haphazard way up to the top of the metal edging. Then I laid stones across the edging, completely covering it. I didn't have stones to lay a capstone course, so where the wall's top was most irregular, I put a planter on top and called it good.

It's uneven but it solved the problem. The metal edging is not visible, the stones make a boundary between the gravel and the grass, and it looks okay enough.

After toting and stacking rocks, I'm ready now to sit awhile in my gravel garden and contemplate whether the turtle can make his way from the sea of time to the far shore. He's so slow.


  1. I think you did a really great job. Congratulations.

    1. Thanks! A little haphazard, but we'll call it rustic : )