Let's Build a Wall

It seemed too good to be true. I found this house for sale online and sent Lindsay a link. Her response: "Stop it. We won't be able to get that house." That was May. In September we moved in. Three weeks later, the government shut down. So, I got busy.

Growing up, my childhood home had a bed of daylilies and other perennials running along the street. Recently, My older brother put in a perennial bed at the front of his yard. I loved this idea and plagiarized the hell out of it. But I also wanted to build it up a bit to help cut down on some of the road noise (we live on a very busy street). So we put in a rock wall and filled in with topsoil. With as many cars stopping to give us praise, we knew this was a great idea. I had helped build several rock walls and flagstone patios while apprenticing under my father, so these skills came in handy. 

The first step was to get rid of the grass. This area of the lawn was mostly clover, dandelions, and a lot of bermuda grass. Peering into my crystal ball, visions of weeding bermuda grass out of this bed spooked me to the core. It needed to be dug out really well. Really well.

Trusty spade, call to action! 

Don't underestimate how much material to start with. Its much easier to have more than you need, especially when trying to fit them all together. Building a rock wall is a lot like working a puzzle. Sometimes you just need that perfect fit. Besides you can always put the extra rock to other use...like building more walls!

We gradually built up the wall using stone dust to backfill and level loose stones. Another tip I learned from my father is to keep an eye out for "cap stones" (the ones that end up on top). Keeping on the lookout helps prevent you from using nice flat and interlocking stones in the middle or bottom of the wall. 

Once the wall was finished, it was time to set out the plants. Remember the rule of three...or five, or seven...when laying out your plants. And give the plants plenty of room to grow into. It's been said of perennials: "the first year they sleep, the second year they creep, the third year they leap". It may look a little bare in the beginning, but be patient! You can also fill in with annuals for some color in the beginning. I've grown fond of Lobelia Erinus, Blue Trailing Lobelia, but take note of the drought tolerance of your variety. Newer varieties are much more heat and drought tolerant and would cope well in a site like this. I've had great luck with Petunias in this site.The "wave" hybrids take the beatings of our Virginia thunderstorms and bounce right back. They creep to about 18" in width throughout the season filling in empty spaces with brilliant color. 

Don't forget to water the plants in! This is very important for the plants to survive. It also helps the soil settle in and eliminate air pockets near the roots. Notice the stain on the sidewalk from where the grass had overgrown. This disappeared over time.

The house faces North-ish, so its tough to get a shot of the wall with some light on it except in the early morning hours. With the wall complete, the house started feeling like it was ours. And the complements continue to arrive. Rock n roll!