I’m no stone mason, but I’ve had a pretty good go at it..

When we bought this house 7 or so years ago, I never would have imagined that we would end up investing well over a year of our lives into landscaping. I mean, the property was just perfect right? Well, once you live in a place for a little while, you start to see things that are worn out, hard to maintain, or just not quite as nice as you would like and that’s exactly what happened here.

The previous owners had done some work to tidy the place up before selling, and things were all green and fresh. After moving in we started to see some of the design weaknesses and maintaining this very steep block was getting harder and harder, especially after a few years of very dry weather. As much as I loved the look of the big trees, there were several problems arising from them which forced the beginning of the big changes to come.

Around 18 months ago, we got started. It was surprisingly difficult to get tradies to do quotes on such a big job that was made up of so many little parts, so it was clear that we would be doing a fair bit of the work ourselves. I couldn’t find a single person that was willing to do the rock walls the way I wanted and no one was making any better suggestions. I wanted them to be mortared rock, because that is the style of wall that you see in several other areas around our property.

We needed to do things in several stages, so unless we were willing to pay for a landscape designer to oversee the whole thing, it was always going to be tricky to coordinate. Add to that, rain, rain and more rain, plus a bit of COVID lockdown here and there and well, here we are 18 months later with the job still unfinished!

So there are still a few things to do, but I finally feel like some of the biggest parts are done. It was an absolute pleasure to put the concrete mixer away and clear out the piles of left over rocks over the weekend!

Its super important to point out that this project is not something I have done alone. It has kind of been my baby, but I couldn’t have done it without the help of my husband, some good friends and a few contractors along the way.

To get the full picture, I’ll start by going back in time.. Here’s what we have done to get to this point..

  • Removal of trees, shrubs, stumps and bits of broken timber retaining strip
  • Earthworks and installation of main concrete sleeper retaining walls
  • Adding some little bits of rock wall to the shed end of the sleeper wall to ‘finish off’ the garden ends. This was my practice for mortared rock walls that helped me decided that we would be able to do the bigger ones at the other end of the garden.
  • Adding fill to garden beds, levelling and adding fill to the lawn sections
  • Adding mulch, lawn seed and plants
  • Watching our fill, lawn seed and mulch wash away due to ridiculous rain
  • Adding more fill, smoothing it out and trying to grow lawn seed for the second and third time..
  • Installation of the worlds toughest watering system, even though we have not needed it yet due to sooo much rain
  • Lots and lots of plumbing for improved drainage, but also all of the pipes we broke while excavating various parts of the yard. We did excavations to deal with plumbing issues, and had to fix plumbing issues due to accidents during excavations, it was a painful cycle!
  • Months after the first sleeper walls were installed, we added another sleeper wall to widen the driveway near the house and smaller sleeper walls at the rear of the rock wall sections of garden.

So back to the rock walls..

Pushing dirt around, setting up gardens, planting things and organising other people to do the bits I couldn’t do alone was a massive part of this project – but the part of the project that I truly feel like I ‘made’ was the mortared rock wall. And I am thrilled to say that it is FINALLY FINISHED! That’s right, the final rock has been mortared into place at last.

The rock wall sections had to be done in several stages because we couldn’t level and set up the upper walls until the lower ones were finished. Here are a few pics taken over the many months of the rock wall build..

The weather was meant to be clear on that last day of mortaring, but no, the rain just had to come back again. And again. All day on and off.

Nothing was going to stop us from finishing this time though..

There are still other jobs that need to be done before I can say that the full landscaping job is complete, such as acid washing the rocks, getting the concrete/asphalt redone at the top of the driveway, back filling the last garden beds, top dressing the lawn and planting trees, shrubs and grass seed – but the ‘rock walls’ are done.

They may not be the most perfect mortared rock walls out there, but to be honest, I think they have come up pretty well. Every time I see rock walls out and about – I can’t help but look a little closer now!

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