West Rock Wall

front Yard 078The west rock wall will be sloping down to our driveway when it is all done. Landscaping-wise, it starts off looking somewhat unremarkable with the first rows laid. The base has the largest boulders that the tractor can move. What is unexpected is that the rocks are placed with their longest sides laid flat for increased stability. The rise in height is slower this way, but the goal is to put enough strength and weight in the structure to withstand nature.

front Yard 082See the large flat stone at the end on the right? This was pulled into place with a chain across the hill. There are intentional gaps in the wall allowing for drainage. Remember, no one wins a war against nature. Water always wins, so it is important to invite it to a place you want it to go.  front Yard 080With this view, you can see how the land has natural rock outcroppings stepping up the hill. A lower 10-foot rise where we are building the rock walls and another 10-foot rise behind next to the house, that we have made into a rock garden.

front Yard 093This process took all summer long to complete two walls last year. It was not a job that was hired out to a landscaper as we sat drinking tea on the deck and watched. You don’t have to be rich, just be willing to go out every day and get dirty and sweaty. Nose to the grind-stone. We can do almost anything if we have the where-with-all to put the effort out and the stick-to-it to finish it.

East Rock Wall

front Yard 085The east rock wall base is level now for the first course of rock to begin. We have a rock wall on the east side slope and on the west side slope with a mound of dirt in the center between the two big fir trees. This side of the lawn will have a slope going down to the road to our garden below.

front Yard 086We leave a big enough gap between our fir tree and the wall to not cause it any harm. The largest boulders are the base of the retaining wall with gaps for the wet stuff to drain through. front Yard 087We love the tractor, and only wish that we had purchased it earlier. It has made a lot of this work a lot more doable. There is still a lot of hard hand work to place these guys so they don’t slip around.front Yard 088 There is an area on the lawn side of the wall where smaller rocks are placed to help retain the soil yet still preserve the draining capabilities. front Yard 089Pry bars and gloves and Mr. Kubota are our friends for this project. front Yard 090Peter found a boulder that is perfect to recline on, so it was put on the top of the wall for anyone to use if they happen to notice it.

fossil rock 01There are also rocks that have great prehistoric marks in them mixed in the wall. We had an archeologist tell us what this one is in-depth.front Yard 091Here is the wall almost complete.

Creating a Front Lawn

front Yard 063Creating a Front Lawn doesn’t seem like a really complicated thing to do. But, it is something that takes a bit of design when you are on a steeply sloped property.

front Yard 059You can see the steep slope combined with a natural rock outcropping along the side of the house here.

lawn Lower 01Previous tasks that we have completed involved building up our driveway to insure accessibility all year long. Mainly, lots of gravel. The year before, we also cleared the shrubs and trees in an area above the garden and leveled it out planting grass to slow the flow of water before it reaches the garden.

drainage 02Erosion and drainage may not seem very important for a lawn but remember that water is one of the most powerful things in nature. Water made the Grand Canyon…

Front Yard on a Hill

Sycamore Tree

Sycamore Tree 02Beauty and the Beast

We decided to cut down a Sycamore tree that I planted 25 years ago after finishing the reno on the storage shed by the garden. The sycamore was one of those expensive landscape tree purchases costing a whopping $60 in 1995. Which is a lot, to a single mom’s budget. I really loved this shade tree cooling our mobile home over the years.

A Sycamore is actually a gorgeous large hardwood with lots of big green leaves and is perfect for shade in yards and parks. However, if you have even a slight allergy to its pollen it can make life quite miserable. It became a real chore to mow the lawn under it. You would start coughing as soon as you started mowing and then experience a sore throat with swollen eyes, and coughing for a couple of days after, even if you used a mask and eye coverings. Sycamore Tree 01We set up to sell art at a downtown garden show. The booth next to me had a professional tree trimmer in it. I happened to mention to him how irritating the mowing under our Sycamore had become, and the guy laughed. He said that whenever people wanted a Sycamore’s trimmed the price went up. His crew has to wear a full suit to prevent respiratory and skin irritations associated with them. That was shocking to find out but reassuring at the same time.

Finding that out 2 years ago has had me thinking that tree maybe wasn’t such a good idea. When I looked up at the buds on the tree limbs this spring I told Pete that I had enough of the allergy stuff. So, we decided to go ahead and take it down.

Sycamore Tree 03Check out the massive root system. Taking this tree down as a project had a comedy show of I N T E R E S T I N G events attached…. really. Honestly, I’d tell you about them but then I’d have to kill you. Internet BS is not allowed for this top-secret event, so, you’ll have to come to see in person to get the story on the rest of this adventure.

Here is a link to more information about Sycamore trees if you are interested. Pay attention to the problems paragraph a few paragraphs down.