Sunday, February 20, 2011

Suddenly Stone Stairs!

Before:

After:


I've been putting off working on this slope until I could get the wall built. Well I finally realized the wall just isn't getting built. So I reduced my goal and with Rat working on my side, finished the project in maybe 5 hours. I decided that a two-rock-high layer at the bottom of the bank might be enough to stop the soil drifting into the road.

I wanted stairs here because I scramble up and down here fairly often. Also because Duncan already has a path here, and it's easiest to build his route into the landscaping. You can walk up the stairs, behind the cottage, and continue down to the corral, or turn right into the redwood grove path that my daughter and son-in-law made, or turn left into the "north garden" where Rat made the path last year.


And here are - the Stages In Between:

Rat has carved back the hill where the soil was drifting into the driveway. I've begun playing with stones, trying to figure out how to get them to stack. The best way was to cut into the hill where the upper row would go so that the second row felt very securely seated - and I tried to place them like bricks, i.e. the upper row offset by half a rock, for stability.


Rough layout of the stairs, which Rat cut out.

I've found this way of laying flat stone on a ledge of boulders works well. They all seem to bed in pretty well. We'll see how it goes. This is my second set of stairs. The first set is sturdy enough.



Duncan is in on the discovery of rodent nests in the rock and stone piles:


Lesson learned. We have to keep the areas around our house clear of clutter.


Below the project is nearly done.



I added a few of the river rocks we picked up from a friend at work who was giving them away. I used them to chink some places, and then also I liked the look of them so I added a few decoratively. I'm not sure if they'll stay in place even. Just mucking about trying things.



So - we hope that the bank is holding itself up well, and now we have barrier and a well-defined though lumpy and leaky edge, which I can also plant with - well, I'm open to ideas.

It's going to be a challenge establishing a garden here, because of all the weeds that I've never gotten on top of year after year. This is a last stronghold of the Oxalis pes caprae. The soil here is more clayey than in other parts of the property.

I want to plant lots of things here. There's quite a lot of Mexican sage already, which was here before we were, and is a stellar performer every year. There's Matilija poppy, which I cut back probably a bit late this year. And red-hot poker.

It might be fun to add a few more rocks to create planting shelves and nooks, almost a rock garden kind of look.

I will need to put rabbit fencing around the two planting areas, at least temporarily. That's not going to be fun. And I'll be spraying lots of deer repellent. Scary times, in the garden, when we put new plants out to survive on their own!

In my greenhouse, I have a lot of robust seedlings of naked buckwheat (Eriogonum nudum), California fuschia (Epilobium canum), golden yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum) and sticky monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus), and I have foothill penstemon seed from nursery stock, though maybe it's a bit late to get going this year. So they can all go here. I'm thinking some summer water, but one area, near the Matilija poppy, will be a summer dry area.

I wonder what else to put here? Your ideas welcome!

7 comments:

Elephant's Eye said...

Interesting project.
(BTW has no title so we cannot pick it on Blotanical ...)

Country Mouse said...

Oh gosh - I forgot the title - I've titled the post now, thanks Elephant's Eye!

Randy Emmitt said...

CM,
Job well done. Those are big rocks must have been some really hard work.

Christine said...

That. Looks. Fabulous! I love how you guys just tackle one project right after the other- inspiring and envy-producing at the same time! Would Salvia clevelandii make it out there? The Penstemons will look gorgeous next to the Matilijia, with perhaps a few Maritima CA Poppy seeds thrown in for good measure.

Country Mouse said...

Thanks, Christine and Randy! It was a fair bit of work, but went so much quicker than we thought. We were just making it up as we went along, my favorite modus operandi, and it seems to have worked out well. Salvia Clevelandii would work on one part - Win. Gilman would be very nicely aromatic here. It's south east facing with two trees across the driveway, gap between them. So the light varies up the slope. I'll have to see where the sun is strongest longest. I can't wait to plant it up with cool stuff! Poppies won't be a problem either. I want it to be popping with action here - I need to get rid of the weeds though. It's always easier to weed among plants somehow - it's more motivating for sure. This area has been neglected for way too long. Now I can hold my head up!

Mani Subramanian said...

Seems to be a good amount of planning and work. Great to have the work checked out by Duncan.. Now it is time to have some Solar lights on the side, so the path way is well-lit :-)

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

I feel like I'm slacking again LOL. Fabulous stairs, and we sooooo have at least a few places here that we need to install stairs, just so I stop giving gravity the advantage in the orchard and gardens (I've already had 2 black eyes after taking a header down the slope). Your stone stairs are perfect! Need to send Mr. Curbstone over here for some inspiration!