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Building a wall: the prelims

The rock wall/rock garden project begins on Monday.

I already killed a whole bank of grass and weeds (an early and encouraging victory in my recently declared War on Lawns). My act of vicious, premeditated herbicide is supposed to make it easier for The Wandering Monk to carve through and shape the soil of the bank, but that’s still going to be pick-axe work. Ugh.

The quarry brought out the rock yesterday morning and dumped it across the street. My instructions had been “rock of the maximum size one man can handle and some slightly smaller, everything between 60 and 40 pounds.” I’d worried that they’d break it up too small, which isn’t the way to make a good looking rock garden.

When I saw what they brought I was pleased — but knew instantly The Monk wouldn’t be.

The guys at the quarry have a different idea than I about what one man can lift.

The majority of these rocks have got to be well over 100 pounds, with a few running closer to 200 — great for the wall, rotten for The Monk and his minions (which for this project include both me and a 14-year-old from the neighborhood).

The cat likes them, though. As averse as she is to anything new, she took to the rock pile right away and has been climbing all over it from the first hour. Naturally, being a cat, she wouldn’t do her queen of the hill routine when I wanted a photo. But she did deign to turn her regal head and give me A Look.

The Monk wisely came out yesterday afternoon to scope out the situation. We discussed dollies, pully systems, hoists, skids, and other ways to move the mini-boulders across the road and lift them into position. We couldn’t agree or come up with anything really brilliant.

So we dashed to the lumber yard, when I knew the semi-retired town’s-greatest-expert-on-everything-construction-related was on part-time duty. He grokked immediately what we needed — a makeshift hoist — and as he described it The Monk and I were relieved to realize that between us, after years of construction work on both our houses, we have almost everything we need: heavy-duty chains and ropes, giant bolts, a come-along, and inch-plus plywood. A few 4x4s are probably all we’ll need to buy, and those can later be used on other projects.

That’ll be Tuesday. Monday is shifting a whole lot of dirt and spreading plastic sheeting (which again I have a ton of, thanks to Ye Olde Wreck’s many past needs).

Wish us luck.


  1. Joel
    Joel August 3, 2019 11:28 am

    Good luck! It’s gonna look *great* but getting there will be memorable.

    If you were in the desert I’d add standard unsolicited kibitzing about hydration. But in your case it’ll probably rain…

  2. larryarnold
    larryarnold August 3, 2019 12:56 pm

    You’ll probably want to start with the biggest rocks at the bottom, so at least lifting will get easier as you go along.

    I’ll say watch for traffic. It’s easy when playing across a little-traveled road to get into a routine and forget to Look Both Ways.

  3. Comrade X
    Comrade X August 3, 2019 1:30 pm

    Good luck but that’s a scary looking cat for sure!

  4. just waiting
    just waiting August 4, 2019 8:49 am

    I’ve moved mountains of rocks building walls for C. Best tool I ever found for the job is a 2 wheel dolly, a hand truck. Best, most back saving $49 I ever spent.

  5. Daylan
    Daylan August 4, 2019 12:45 pm

    What you really need is a trebuchet. 😎

  6. William Conrad
    William Conrad August 5, 2019 12:58 pm

    They make a “tree Dolly” that has a better balance and can carry heavier loads, might be able to rent one.

  7. Claire
    Claire August 6, 2019 10:43 am

    A dolly — the right dolly — would have been a great tool. I’d never heard of a “tree dolly,” but I’ll bet that would work. Seems it’s also called a landscape dolly:

    Unfortunately, we ran into a familiar problem. No such dollies are for sale locally and we have zero rental places within feasible distance. None of the dollies sold around here are sufficiently heavy-duty and/or set up for anything the shape and weight of rocks. So we improvised — or rather, the Monk and his minion did. I’ll try to get pix later, but they’ve rigged a lawnmower-operated hoist system that’s allowing them to work impressively fast.

    At this rate, I think we’re going to run out of rock.

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