Building With Rock Is Easier Than Expected


| 4/7/2014 9:18:00 AM


Tags: stonework, raised beds, Missouri, Linda Holliday,

The rumble and racket of the county road grader every spring gets my heart pounding. I know in its wake will be a fresh batch of pumpkin-sized rocks scattered all up and down the roadsides. As soon as the grader passes, I’m out there with my rock-toting wagon selecting those with smooth, flat tops and blocky, stocky shapes perfect for my next gardening project. This spring, it’s an expansion of our strawberry bed.

Strawberry bed

Surrounded by so many plastic and chipboard building materials today, what a pleasure to beautify a garden with natural Missouri Ozarks stone. When we built our first raised bed garden with rocks four years ago, it was simply because we unearthed so many rocks that we had to do something with them.

Growing up in rock-less Wisconsin, I’d always admired rock walls I’d seen elsewhere. I was even intimidated about building one since I had no experience in it. My husband had no such apprehension. In fact, I came home one day and discovered he’d already placed the largest cornerstone – a monster measuring 3 feet by 2 feet, 20 inches tall – by himself.

Building With Natural Rock

And thus began our first mortarless masonry project. As it turns out, working with natural rock is much easier than I feared. Darren staked out a square area and ran string as a guide to keep the rocks in line. Then we placed the absolute largest rocks on the corners and started lining up the remaining large rocks as the base.

Incidentally, be sure to wear heavy boots and leather gloves. Squishing your fingers between two rocks, even small stones, is amazingly painful. As you gather rocks for your project, remember that snakes like spending time under rocks, particularly in early spring. I said hello to three startled snakes this week.




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