Defining the south beds

The south side of my house has always been a challenge to plant. Hard-packed clay soil, a fairly steep slope, sun-baked in summer but full shade in winter. With the addition of my cactus beds over the last two years though, it's become much better. Maybe even special.

It's not yet finished though, because one of the mounded beds I created to help improve drainage was lacking. It just didn't look as good as it could. If you've ever tried to photograph a mound of soil you probably know what I mean -- you just can't make it look good. It's not interesting enough.


Here's a view from the other side, looking downhill:

Something is missing, right? Fortunately, I knew what it was...


Rather than have the mound just taper off into nothing, it would be much more effective both functionally and visually to have something to retain the soil here.

I found three nice specimens at the local material supply company, what they call "weathered fieldstone".  Although these are different from the rocks that I've dug out of my soil (and were unearthed by machinery a few years back when a neighbor had some work done) they look like they could be native. I've used these same rocks in my stream and as steppers on the slope here, and am really happy with their look. They're much more solid than the native rocks too, which start to crack and crumble after five years or so.

Each of them I chose had a fairly nice flat side, perfect for retaining soil.

I only needed two for the wall (it feels silly calling it a "wall")...

And you know what I like to do where soil meets rock, right? Yep, add plants!

I added a chocolate ball sedum and Euphorbia 'bonfire' (I think -- can't find the tag so please correct me if this is a different cultivar):

The third rock was left to help define the edge of the other bed, letting visitors know where it's okay to walk here.

It's so much better visually now, even though I didn't bury that third rock yet, and didn't freshen the mulch on the path here yet when the photos were taken (I did spread mulch here just before the tour).

That's 200 lbs. (90 kg) of solution right there!

Have you been thinking about adding any rocks to your garden?

I know some of you (in the PNW especially) have boulders galore to contend with, so I'm talking about the rest of you!


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (June 24, 2014 at 5:18 PM)  

You know what's really funny? I'd just gotten to the point where you say "it's not interesting enough" when I said out loud: He needs to add rocks. That was before I'd seen the photos of the rocks you added. LOL.

Lisa  – (June 24, 2014 at 10:17 PM)  

Rocks are my obsession. Absolutely addicted to rocks. Each one is just more interesting than the last. When we built the pond, it was weeks and weeks of rock shopping - we now know every rock dealer in a 100 mile radius! A well-placed rock can make a landscape element appear to have been there forever. Good job on defining your beds!

Mark and Gaz  – (June 25, 2014 at 5:09 AM)  

Great choice on the rocks, it instantly adds that extra impact and interest even on the trickiest of spaces.

Alan  – (June 25, 2014 at 2:42 PM)  

Gerhard: One of the things that it took a while to learn was that sometimes a plant is not the solution. Rocks, a pot, a chunk of wood -- something besides plants!

Lisa: admitting you have a problem is the first step toward something... probably a rock-filled garden. :) My wife has wanted to buy me a big boulder for a while, but those are difficult to surprise somebody with!

Mark and Gaz: plus almost nothing can kill a rock! :)

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