|It was our idea to use this particular chopped stone for a dry stack, but the landscaper interjected a great deal of great design advice. My worn-out steel toed boot is shown here for scale.|
|In Part 1 I showed this picture of the curved walkway with foundation beds on either side.|
The phrase "square peg into a round hole" quite literally comes to mind with respect to this predicament of the curved walkway. Initially, my husband was convinced that we needed to have it re-poured into a right-angle configuration that would better accommodate the stone. I disagreed because it would have involved a labor crew, re-forming, getting a ready-mix truck to deliver concrete, etc. - none of which were in the budget. Only wealthy folks can afford to jack-hammer a perfectly good walkway for the sake of style. Middle-class folks develop workarounds.
And so we did. But before I get to that, let me briefly walk through a few DIY construction tips.
|This one began in the usual way - by excavating out an area to accommodate a supportive base. You'll notice two differences here compared to the bed built in Part 1: |
(1) I bought bagged limestone rather than ordering delivery of a cubic yard of it. Buying stone in bulk is usually cheaper, but I didn't need a whole yard here, so Home Depot was my source for the bags. I was also in a big hurry because we needed to get this project finished before the worst of the summer heat started slamming us, and so bags were more convenient.
(2) On the far left side of this photo, you'll see stacks of concrete top caps or capstones. This Home Depot website lists these for $0.89 apiece, but I've never found them locally for less than $1.30 (the lower price might be a per-pallet equivalent). Even at $1.30, that's only about $0.07 per pound, compared to $0.25 per pound for the chopped stone. Moral of that story: it stretches the budget to incorporate as many of these into the structure as possible.
|The first layer of support consisted of the limestone. The only difference here relative to Part 1 is that we put down landscape fabric to separate the stone from the soil.|
|My husband decided on a different construction methodology: "build as we go". Rather than finish the entire trench and then lay the entire stone wall, we started in the corner and worked our way outward. For this reason, using a hand tamper was more efficient (and cheaper) than renting a powered compactor as was done in Part 1. |
Hand tamping was also a lot more work, but half the reason why I do these projects is for the exercise.
|What have I said over and over again in post after post? Make it level. Make it level in every direction, every time.|
|Because I've seen too many rigid structures crumble around here. In Part 1, I described my rationale for making my landscaping improvements "float" instead of trying to fix anything in place. |
Galveston County Courthouse Annex on Calder road, low landscaping wall split by the local forces of nature.
|Fortunately, creativity can often succeed where budget is less than ideal. Here is the final result, and let me explain why it works visually.|
|NUMBER ONE - because that focal point is a show-stopper (and a car-stopper as well - people occasionally slow down to look at it). It tends to draw the eye away from any other imperfections that might be present. I chose it very carefully to be the proper size for this space, to be perfectly centered in front of that brick column, and also to be rectilinear as an echo of the raised beds on either side of it. Repetition of right angles, in other words. |
It's an urn that I got at Maas Nursery for approximately $100. Let me show a few close-ups...
|Both that taupe color and the chocolate brown color are found in our house brick. That underlying color conformance legitimizes the addition of the vibrant blue tones. |
We set it directly into the crushed granite, which I'll talk about in a minute.
|It's a rather high, slim urn and it wouldn't take much to tip it over. We get visited by many neighborhood children whom we greatly enjoy, but sometimes children touch things they shouldn't. To discourage contact with this urn, I planted a painful cactus in it, a spiral Euphorbia. Euphorbias are poisonous as well as painful, but reportedly not nearly as poisonous as other common plants such as Oleander. |
Cactus and succulents tend to be excellent choices for container gardening in greater Houston. Containers dry out very quickly and also get very hot during the summer. Water-dependent plants often cannot tolerate the extreme conditions that result from container planting.
|I put a cigar plant in the corner opposite the urn. Like several of the plants I described in Part 1, this poor guy also lived in a container for three years until this bed was ready to receive him. I got him from Faith's Garden Shed Naturally via the Clear Lake Shores Farmers Market.|