Monday, March 17, 2014

Building a Garden Wall - The Beginning

I had every intention of moving right along with the mudroom makeover this weekend. But when the forecast for your Saturday is sunny and 60 degrees followed by a forecast of 12 solid hours of snow, well...sometimes your plans change.

In my case, I was overcome with despair at the thought of MORE SNOW, so we decided to stick it to the man and get some work done outside on our beautiful day before round 65981 of snow fell.

More specifically, we were going to build ourselves a fancy garden wall in our front yard.

I know, so random, right?

I really have the hubster to thank for this idea, since in his many travels in his line of work he stumbles across some pretty cool stuff. He often comes home and tells me about antique stores, estate sales, and other goodies that I otherwise wouldn't normally know about.

So when he came home on Tuesday night and told me we could do some hardscaping on the cheap thanks to a supplier he found with a ton of discontinued pavers and garden blocks, I couldn't resist. Especially since the weather was going to be so nice. And especially especially since it was going to snow on Sunday night into Monday and this was the perfect opportunity to flip Old Man Winter the bird.

Early on Saturday, we took a quick 10 minute zip down the Garden State Parkway to the treasure trove of discontinued stone that was up for grabs:

Hello, I'll take you all.
 Peyton even got in on the action:

The guys in the sales office apparently couldn't resist this cute, seemingly innocent face, so they gave her a lollipop.
At 9 :00 AM.
 We quickly replaced the child with our garden wall blocks, 72 of them to be exact, for a whopping total of about $100.

And sloooooowly and carefully drove home. While it took us 10 minutes to get there, it took us about a half and hour to get back.

Once home, it was time to start digging out our new garden space. The photo below shows some progress on digging up the sod, but I basically followed the line we spray painted onto the grass. Also, looking at this photo now makes me cringe because we really left our garden bed to look like this all winter (well, when it wasn't covered by snow). Sorry, neighbors.

You guys, digging up sod is hard. It took me about an hour and a half to dig up enough sod to expand the garden bed to the size we wanted. 

And while I feel guilty about taking out some perfectly good grass, I did promise my pile of sad sod that I would plant beautiful things in it's place.

All dug up. 
 Seriously, I have the best little helper.

Once the sod was out and we had dug down about 4 inches from our border, it was time to turn our attention to our blocks. All 72 of them. I feel like I should warn everyone that you should a.) lift with your legs and b.) wear gloves. I did a.) and got a great leg work out (sore today!), but I didn't do b.) and now I have rough and scary man hands.

Getting the first row perfect is the hardest part. As long as the first row is level, your remaining rows will be level (science, sometimes you can't fight it).

To start, we shoveled some crushed concrete into the border of the bed, and used a hand tamper to pack it down. We tried to get it as level as possible here, which set up a good foundation for our blocks.

And then we started working our way down, checking the level with the addition of each new block and add or taking away some of the concrete until it was right, or using a rubber mallet to pound it into the concrete until it was level with its neighbor. Getting this first row level took about an hour and a half.

Rows 2 and 3 took about a half an hour combined.

 For this front section of the wall, we still need to cut some blocks in half to fit into the brick pattern we laid and find a nice matching stone to run down the walkway and along the house. These stones will need to be thinner because we have a sprinkler head 4 1/2 inches from the walkway.

Once that's done and after our frost-free date, we'll put some gravel down to help with drainage, layer on some topsoil and compost, plant my seedlings (which have ALL finally germinated!), mulch, and enjoy ourselves a fabulous raised garden bed. I can't wait to share the finished project with you!

And now I will present to you my view out the back door this morning.

Winter, you are killing my spirit.
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Also linking up to:
Coastal Charm
Savvy Southern Style
Imparting Grace
Jennifer Rizzo


  1. man, i so want to update our front garden wall. great find!

    1. Thanks! It was totally worth the sore legs and destroyed hands so far! We can't wait to finish it and get to planting in that bed already!

  2. Looks great! I can't wait for some warm weather here in Michigan to get out and work in the yard!

    1. Thanks Melanie! Hope the weather warms up for you soon. It's still up in the air here--Saturday is going to be 60 degrees again and then they're calling for more snow on Monday or Tuesday! I am so ready for winter to be OVER!

  3. Love how this is shaping up. The snow, that used to be so pretty, is just sad now. Hope it melts for you soon!

    1. Thanks Sarah! I'm totally ready for the snow to hightail it out of here!

  4. Looks great! We have a similar project in mind.....and would love to have a good price on the stones...checking craigslist. :) Thank you for posting. Gentle Joy

    1. Thank you! Isn't it crazy how expensive the stones are?! Best of luck in your Craigslist search!

  5. This winter has totally killed me! We had a day last week where it was sunny & 75 then it snowed the next day. So tired of it! Love what you've done with the hardscaping! It looks great!

    1. Thank you, Carrie! I'm so over this's crazy. We are supposed to get MORE snow tomorrow into Wednesday! I'm so ready for the warm weather again. So glad you stopped by!

  6. Beautiful project!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Hope to see you on my blog:)


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