The Wall That She Built


The building of the last wall is what led to the name of the blog, Incremental Progress.  Walls take time, especially when you are a-woman-of-a-certain age, and that age is not 21 or even 30 something, it’s barely hanging on to 40 something and your only heavy moving equipment is your own two legs.

Here in NEPA I’m stuck in the middle of the woods, with very little sun peeking through the trees.  It’s lovely, but annoying when you’d like to plant acres of sunflowers and beebalm.  I realized the sunniest part of my garden was on a steep slope in the front yard, and then it’s only half day sun,  And like all the ground here, rocky.  And the only way I could utilize it was if I  terraced it or put some kind of raised bed there.  Personally I voted for a raised bed, that my husband could build, or terraces that someone else could build, naturally none of these items made it into the budget.  Hard to believe isn’t it.  Shazam.

Here is the problem area, Spring 2007.

Ugly isn’t it?  I’ve disliked it for years, for years, it has gnawed at the back of my brain saying, “fix me, fix me, fix me.”  Sometimes it said, “I’ve got all the sun, ha, ha, ha, and I’m growing weeds here, ha, ha, ha, and if you come down here you’ll trip and fall and won’t that be pretty.”  In the winter it said, “great place to sled, if you’re not worried about the kids bonking their noggins on trees!”

One day I had another one of those Shazam moments.  (Hey, it only took 10 years.)  I could take the rocks from the semi-circle wall down by the playset and use them to build my new rock wall.  Yippee, no trips into the woods hauling rocks and all the nasty things under them back to the wall.  I just had to take down this wall, the first one I’d ever built, full of nice big rocks, and move them 150 feet or so uphill and use them to build the new wall.  Voila!  New wall.  Oh.  I skipped the part about aching joints, sweaty body, and nasty things under rocks. 

Playset with wall that would be moved in front of it.  Hey, that half circle seemed like a good idea at the time.

 And so I began.  See that pathetic excuse for a birdbath in the very front?  That is the pipe to the dry well, it’s what the septic guy looks in when he comes to check your tank.  There is also a big huge concrete thingymajig behind it, that is where he actually puts the hose down, and does whatever those guys do.  The point is I have another problem area.  What to do about the septic is an on going issue here.  Obviously, painting it with granite paint and disguising it to look like a very short birdbath did not work.  Pulling it out is not an option either.  Former neighbor, whom I like to call the ditzy-one, did pulled hers out because she didn’t like the look of it.  That is another story.  Back to work.  There’s a wall to be built here.

Sad first stones when I am trying to get an idea of what it will look like. Visualize!  Visualize! Visualize!


Off to a nice start with all the important sophisticated rock moving and building tools, a child’s old pink sled, blue bucket for fill and a girl’s best rockwall building friend, the three pound sledge!  Knock those babies into place.



You never see most of the rocks in a wall.  The majority of the rocks are inside or hidden in the back.


I’m not sure what I was watering there, maybe myself.


The problem here is where to end.  Which is why we dubbed this part of the wall, phase I.


This is not the end, nor the real corner.  I was just stacking the nice corner pieces to get an idea of how high I was going to have to go on this baby.  Yes, I know real men use a plumb line and a plumb bob, this wall is being built by a woman.  I place the stone, I look, I walk away and look some more to see if it is kinda sort straight.  And then I hit it with the three pound sledge, just because I can.

Early April 08 and the dirt has arrived.

Early April 08 and the dirt has arrived.

Ta-Da!  Same spot one year later May 2008, with a load of topsoil, and mulch.  The plantings are not firm, they are all the bargins I bought at the end of season sales, and had to dig in somewhere fast.  I’m still thinking through the plantings here as I battle off the woodchucks.

And I swear that is not the same bale of peat moss that was in the first photos.  Really, truly, honestly, it’s a different one.


1 comment so far

  1. Don Pickford on

    Nice wall. Thanks for showing it. I am going to try and build a dry stack wall out here in California using Sonoma Field Stone. Thanks again, Don

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