Thursday, April 27, 2006

You gotta make it level

Went for a morning walk to talk to myself (I get the answers I want that way) and thought about the pathway through a bit of bush on the property.

A previous gardener had laid a rock path through a low-lying damp area and had even gone to the trouble of planting sedums between some of the rocks.

Now, it doesn't really matter that some of the rocks are flattish and some are not. It doesn't matter that some are really chunks of concrete (although they are really ugly).

What matters to me is the path is almost unusable. The rocks are not level. They are not stable but wiggle when you step on them. The rocks are of different thicknesses and are laid flat on the ground so that not only are the individual rocks not level but thin rocks are laid next to fat rocks.

The overall effect is that you have to watch each and every step and where you put your feet. This morning after the rains the area was damp and almost every rock was moving in the soft soil underneath. It was treacherous walking.

For safety's sake, each rock will have to be lifted and a foundation of gravel laid down. Once this gravel settles and gives a firm and level base, then and only then could I relay the rocks. Frankly this isn't going to happen.

I've ordered a full load of gravel (comes after the half-load restrictions are lifted on the roads) and while I'll pull up those rocks and lay down a gravel bed, I'm not going to the trouble of making a nice flat level walkway of rocks through the bush.

The other pathways closer to the house will also be tamped gravel (4-6 inches of gravel - soaked and tamped down to make them firm and weed resistant) to give good footing during rains and prevent the mud that is currently occupying my back porch from appearing again.

So in this case, all that work by a previous gardener is going to be undone - not because its ugly but because it's unsafe.

And if you read this - know that your foundation work (the underpinnings of your garden) is the most important part of beginning a good garden. Those things you can't see - the 6-inches of rock dust perfectly levelled before you install the paving stones, the layers of rock rubble tamped down underneath garden ornaments so they don't shift, the amazing work of preparing tree holes properly so when you plant, the tree grows for the long haul, installing proper filters and skimmers in ponds - - you don't see this stuff but if you don't do this right you pay for it in the long run with poor garden performance.

And then you ask guys like me how to fix your garden. :-)


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