Landscaping – stacked stone redo…

This project cost only $5.22. I have never, ever, ever had such a low cost project in all my history of home ownership. Shocking, but exciting – for me. And, I get to cross off another project from my list. Also, exciting – for me.

Our stacked stone front planting bed was one of the first landscaping projects we did about 15 years ago. The stacked stone wall has worked out great as far as staying in place and adding interest to our front yard.  The reason I want a redo is because the grass has worked it’s way between the stones. The grass has invaded the bed quicker than I can yank it out.


Additionally, some of the other plants in the bed have decided to escape – and have been working their way between the rocks and down into the lawn.  It has been pretty messy over the last few years. This last summer was the final straw. I couldn’t contain anything. It was maddening.


If you check our To Do List, you will notice that I thought about replacing the stacked stone with a decorative form concrete wall of some sort. I thought about all of the options over the winter. I decided that I am not ready to give up on the stacked stone just yet. I still really like the stacked stone look. It feels charming. I like charming. I want to keep my stacked stone. However, I don’t want to have to redo this stacked stone again in my lifetime. The first time around I used just garden dirt to keep the stones in place. It worked great but ended up being the perfect medium for grass to invade.  I didn’t think about that first time around – obviously.


So, I researched how to keep the grass and other plants from creeping between the rocks. The best solution I thought was to use mortar between and behind the stone wall. Additional research unearthed some possible problems with this mortar method – blocked drainage, heaving and mortar deterioration in the winter, mortar cracking and deterioration with inevitable settling, and the list goes on and on. As a result, the mortar method got eliminated. The next best solution – at least in my mind – was a combination of metal edging (I hope to block the majority of the grass from moving beyond the edging), recycled concrete road base (which is not grass and plant friendly in other applications), and crossed fingers (for luck).

I unstacked my stones and dug a little trench. Pretty easy. I also got a pretty good upper body work out that day.


Next I installed the metal edging.  I then took this photo.  I was looking at the photo and realized the metal edging behind the first row of stones wouldn’t block any of the grass. The grass would crazily make it’s way between the stones before it ever reached the edging. Hmm…


So, I corrected my mistake. The edging was installed (correctly – I think) in front of the bottom row of stacked stones. In theory this should work…


My first trip to the landscaping supply yard for a couple of buckets of road base cost only $1.32. Wow – seriously low cost, and it worked great for setting my stones.


Trip #2 & 3 to the landscaping supply yard for more road base. $1.70 per trip. The second row of stacked stones were quickly and easily placed with the road base as a base – that’s why it’s called road base? 


Trip #4 to the landscaping supply yard for more road base – a $1.50 worth (the guy recognized me from a previous day – as I am the only person that has ever shown up to get concrete road base in such small amounts – four different times). I saved the large flat stones for last – as a sort of capstone. I then filled in behind the road base and stones with garden soil.


Tad helped me out with turning over the dirt in the bed and removing the grass clumps and other plant roots. He’s on the home stretch here – around the corner.


Thanks Tad. All cleaned up, ready for some compost, and on to the fun stuff – like plants.


Then, it snowed. The planting will have to wait…