Rock Wall and Boulder Steps | The Garden Home Challenge With P. Allen Smith

Uploaded by ehowhome on 21.10.2012

One small step, one giant boulder. You watched us design and build this house in 150 days,
but the work is far from over. We're about to jump into my favorite part of the process
of bringing all this together. Join me for an exclusive look right here on eHow Home.
Whenever you're dealing with a landscape project there's always gonna be challenges. One of
the biggest challenges for this site was to resolve this grade change. You can see behind
me a retaining wall we had to build to get us from that level up there down to here.
Of course, we had a budget we had to work with and so I wanted to use as many natural,
native rocks as we could and not use much in the way of concrete or even mortar between
these big rocks. So what we did is we came off the corner of the house, you can see over
here underneath the deck, with a wall that's about 4 1/2 feet tall, and it diminishes up
to here at about 8 inches. And what this did is it helped retain this lowest part. And
then we back filled it with soil. We just used large, flat rocks and wedged smaller
ones in between. And by using no mortar or wall behind it, the water can seep through
-- it doesn't built up behind it, so you don't have to worry about the drainage issues Now
remember, we have gutters on this house that goes into our water collection system, so
we don't have a lot of water coming down this side, which is very important. If you have
a great deluge of water, you might not be able to use stone that's just dry stacked
or laid without mortar. Now, you can see here that we took individual boulders and made
this set of steps coming down -- there's 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. And we call these
two man boulders. Well, why? Because two men can comfortably carry one of these. And they're
nice looking stepping stones. They weight between 200 and 250 pounds each. Now, as I
mentioned, these are native indigenous stones. Some of them came off the site here when we
cleared it. You may remember all the dozer work we had to do. We saved any kind of large
stone for this type of project. A couple of things you wanna keep in mind in placing stones
like this: Is that you want to place them on the sub-grade. In other words, we have
a sub-soil here which was the soil on the site, it got pushed up here and it was actually
rolled, or it was allowed to settle, before these boulders were placed, okay? And then
what we did is we took good soil, we brought in several loads of topsoil and brought that
topsoil up so we have about, oh, about 6 inches of soil around either side. Now we've sown
grass seed and brought straw all up around it to get lawn to come up. So this at least
gives us a way to go from this upper level down here, staying within the style of our
farmhouse chic look, which is what we're after. So using these native stones that fits in
beautifully with the landscape. Hey, if you have any ideas that you'd like to share with
us about what you think we should do back here with the landscape, I'd love to hear
about it. And if you've used some native stones in clever ways, I'd love to see that too.
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