Friday, July 30, 2010

Free Range Friday: married to a rockhound.

An excerpt from my column, originally published in 2005 as a birthday tribute to my husband. I am still convinced that his Master Plan is to be able to mow the entire yard with one pass of the weedeater.

Our yard was a blank slate when we moved in. Scorning brick, Larry created a flowerbed out front using "imported" rocks from a construction site. That was the start of his obsession. Once every available wall was fronted by a rock bordered bed, it was time for something new. Ah, the broken slab at the curb!

Broken, tottering, and dangerous, the slab had to be replaced. Our heroic former hod-carrier came to the rescue, not with boring old concrete, but with fieldstone and mortar mix. After breaking the old slab into manageable pieces, Larry dug out a couple of inches of dirt, then placed the stone in a random mosaic. The small spaces between the rocks were filled with mortar, and viola! An attractive step to the street. The corners of the sidewalk intersection in front of the house were given the same treatment, as was the former section of brick walk leading to the garage.

The coolest project was the stone pillars out back. About three feet tall, they boast a birdbath and a sundial. Step one was to gather rocks in mass quantities. Step two, drive a four-by-four beam into the ground as a support structure.

The third step was the most involved. Breaking and stacking the rocks around the post, filling the gaps with stone chips. This was also the most entertaining step. The air was filled with the sound of, "Tink, tink, Curse! Tink, tink, Swear! Tink, tink, Expletive!" I stayed in the house and kept my giggles to myself. When all was said and done (pun intended), we wound up with a great-looking yard, and a list of rockscaping do's and dont's.

Do be creative. Don't build something because "everybody else has one".
Do be considerate in your rock gathering. Do ask permission from landowners.
Don't dismantle old walls or buildings.
Do wear gloves and other protective clothing.
Do beware of snakes and other critters. Don't remove a rock that is someone's home.
Do check with neighbors and city ordinances before attempting a large structure.
Do use mortar for anything that may be subjected to children.
Don't worry if it's not "perfect".
Do make rockscaping a fun project that your family will enjoy for years to come.

What's your preference: brick or stone?


  1. I LOVE stonescaping -- the results, not the act, as I've never tried it. This post gave me 3 LOL moments, and I don't just mean amusing. I don't say "LOL" unless a cat and/or child get's startled!

  2. Love stone! If I could live in a stone house, I believe I would. My husband built two stone retaining walls and he can't believe how beautiful I think they are!

    Marian Allen

  3. Will-- give it a shot, you might impress yourself! Just make sure the kids are out of earshot... *snicker*

    Marian-- there is a gorgeous house here in town that we considered buying, a two-story limestone beauty with an upper and lower porch. Sigh.


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