Monday, June 08, 2015

Planter… planted

I started this project last fall, but only now have I finished it.

As you may recall, there was a steep slope between the driveway and the back yard. A couple summers ago, I dug out the eroded pathway and replaced it with concrete-block steps (hosing my left shoulder in the process). I haven’t quite gotten around to filling in the holes just yet, but now I’m a step (pun intended) closer.

Between the steps and the garage was a steep bank about four feet high. It was clay and gravelly rock, supporting nothing but weeds and debris. I long fantasized about digging it out and putting in a planter, and decided to dedicate it to strawberries because Mason does love to pick himself a snack. So last fall, I dug out the bank, throwing the dirt into large (20 gallon?) buckets that once held mineral lick for the in-laws’ cattle and covering them. I poured a concrete footing and built up the sidewalls with concrete blocks. And that’s pretty much where it remained through winter and early spring, because cold weather and mortar mix don’t play well together.

The top really isn’t that uneven… the driveway slopes.

But the weather finally warmed up, and it stopped raining for a little while, and I tackled what I thought was the final step: building the front wall with all the rocks I’d picked up and saved for the job. Trowel, bucket, mortar mix, water, rocks… I spent a pleasant afternoon finding stones that fit the next mark, slathering them with mortar, trying to remember why I thought it fit that way, repeat. I used some shale I’d dug up to make the top a little flatter. I used some old bricks to cover the tops of the concrete blocks. Ta-daaaa!

Now we have a hole!

Done! Or so I thought. The Boy pulled up just as I finished. “Looks nice,” he said, which was good because he’s been doing similar work lately. “But you need to put some bricks behind the rock wall with some rebar so the dirt doesn’t push the wall out.” Fortunately, I had some extra concrete blocks handy, and two 8-foot lengths of rebar laying around. I stacked the bricks, drove the rebar through the holes to hold them in place, and left it all there so the mortar could finish setting up.

The rebar that sticks up gets pounded down…

After a week of warm weather (and rain on the back end), I figured it was time to fill it in. I dragged the buckets over and started shoveling until they were light enough to lift, then dumped the rest in. To my surprise, I had just enough dirt to fill the thing about 6 inches below the top—I thought I’d have plenty of dirt left over. I left it this way for another week to allow the incoming rains to settle the dirt.

Just before dumping the garden soil in. Plants ho!

Another surprise: the dirt didn’t settle all that much. Three huge bags of garden soil topped it off nicely. It’s ready for the strawberry plants!

7 comments:

  1. Yay! The world needs more strawberries.

    We had a planter like that in front of the house I grew up in. My dad built it, and yeah, even as a kid I thought it was an astonishing amount of work. Just collecting the field stone took a lot of time.

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  2. Heh, collecting the rocks wasn't that difficult. Georgia soil grows a lot of stuff, but rocks grow best of all!

    The nice thing about this is going to be no deep bending to weed it, just a little leaning.

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  3. Looking good - don't forget strawberries are hungry feeders dig in some well rotted compost or manure and liquid feed through the season - happy strawberry picking! ^_^

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  4. Thanks, Patricia. It'll look even better once we have the strawberries in it.

    Helen, the season (at least for this variety) is pretty much over. The plants we're getting have been growing unattended around the father-in-law's boat in gravel and clay, so they should do well. The yard chickens ate the berries before we could get any, the evil little clucks. I'll definitely compost them next spring!

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  5. Looks like a great place to let the strawberries grow rampant. Nice work!

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  6. Hope the strawberries grow well and produce lots of fruit!

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