Building the wall

Our condo is an end unit; it looks out on an area where four buildings come together.  The ground had been somewhat leveled for the building, but near the back corner of our unit, the ground sloped down to a drain.  The soil there is pure clay and tree roots, very bad for growing anything, and the slope made it a nuisance to walk on when going to the front or back.

I kept playing with the idea of terracing the slope somehow; of turning this area into beds for planting.  (Sort of a fantasy-vision of rice paddies terraced down a mountainside like in the Philippines.) But, I didn’t want to spend much money on it since it was technically on common ground. However, most of my ideas for doing it on the cheap would look tacky, so I held off.

My chance to do something about it came after we had been there a few years.  When we first moved in, there was a fine little structure at the front of the complex built of field stone;  a little shelter where children could wait for the school bus.  It had been torn down when the road was widened (from 2-lane to 4-lane with a grass median).  One day I noticed that one of our neighbors had made a border around his front bed by lining it with field stone.  He told me that he had found a pile of stone at the back of the property where it had been dumped after the the road widening.  There wasn’t much of it left by time I got back there.

The wall and walkway

The wall and walkway

I scrounged what I could and began stacking it in a low wall that never reached more than about a foot or so high.  I’m no mason, but I did the best I could dry-stacking the stones and it looked kind of nice.  I bought bags of topsoil and filled in the terrace to make a (mostly) level walk that could also be planted in.

This looked nice for a year or so until the yard maintenance men thought it was a real wall and tried stepping on it.  Needless to say, it tore up the wall in a few places.  My wife told me I should have used mortar to set the stones.   I didn’t know anything about laying stones (and I really, REALLY didn’t want to rebuild the wall), but she was right.  I bought a bag of Sackcrete and a little trowel and did my best to recreate the wall.  (And I was right, my back hurt for days after that!)  I guess it must have worked ’cause it’s stood for years since then.

Dwarf iris spreading to cover the walk

Dwarf iris spreading to cover the walk

As you can see from the photos, I planted a couple of hosta and some dwarf iris along the walk formed by the wall.  The hosta has grown pretty large and needs dividing.  The dwarf iris is spreading across the walk and needs to be cut back.  It doesn’t take well to being walked on. I’ll try to get around to both this spring.


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