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  #1  
Old 05-18-2003, 06:06 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Help me build a rockery

Well, it's Sunday afternoon and only raining intermittently, so I'm going to try to build a rockery. Problem is, I don't really know what I'm supposed to do. Here's what I have:

1. Flat square of garden where a shed used to be.
2. Pile of rocks.

What do I do next? I know I need to build it on soil, but I don't know where to get some. Do garden centres sell soil? Or is it possible just to use compost? Could I just transfer my compost heap to the rockery bed, and put rocks all over it? Or should I buy a huge bag of peat moss compost? What plants should I put in it? Do I have to plant as I go, or can I plant between the rocks later?

Any suggestions gratefully received.
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  #2  
Old 05-18-2003, 08:10 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Bumpity bump.

Loneliest thread on the SDMB.

What right have you to call yourselves a centre of horticultural expertise?
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  #3  
Old 05-18-2003, 09:11 AM
Kal Kal is offline
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Re: Help me build a rockery

Quote:
Originally posted by jjimm
Do garden centres sell soil? Or is it possible just to use compost? Could I just transfer my compost heap to the rockery bed, and put rocks all over it? Or should I buy a huge bag of peat moss compost? What plants should I put in it? Do I have to plant as I go, or can I plant between the rocks later?
Yes.

Another thing to consider is that your local library may have books about building rockeries. You should go to the library and see. If they do, then you should take the book home and read it. Then you could build your rockery following the instructions from the book you got out of the library.

That's what I would do, but I'm not much of a handyman.
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  #4  
Old 05-18-2003, 09:19 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Re: Re: Help me build a rockery

Quote:
Originally posted by Kal
Yes.

Another thing to consider is that your local library may have books about building rockeries. You should go to the library and see. If they do, then you should take the book home and read it. Then you could build your rockery following the instructions from the book you got out of the library.

That's what I would do, but I'm not much of a handyman.
What is this... "library" of which you speak? It sounds like some form of primitive internet to me - am I right?

Thanks for giving my poor little thread some attention anyway.

Unfortunately the appalling bloody weather has put this project off for a week, so I have a week to find one of these "libraries".
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  #5  
Old 05-18-2003, 09:29 AM
ruadh ruadh is offline
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There's one on the NCR just past Doyle's Corner. Won't be open today, though.
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  #6  
Old 05-18-2003, 09:35 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by ruadh
There's one on the NCR just past Doyle's Corner. Won't be open today, though.
There's a brand-new fancy one in Cabra, too, but I'm always at work in the Southside when it's open.

Might have to buy a damn gardening book.
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  #7  
Old 05-18-2003, 09:39 AM
Kal Kal is offline
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Be careful you don't go into the mountaineering section by mistake, you would have to spend far longer than a weekend building a rockery as pictured in the books you'd find there.
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  #8  
Old 05-18-2003, 09:43 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kal
Be careful you don't go into the mountaineering section by mistake, you would have to spend far longer than a weekend building a rockery as pictured in the books you'd find there.
Good advice. The last time I needed some gardening advice I accidentally bought "The Joy of Sex". My, that earthworm looked surprised.
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  #9  
Old 05-18-2003, 09:59 AM
Kal Kal is offline
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Curiously, I once went to buy a sex manual and ended up with a fully illustrated guide to building a outdoor water feature.

While the pond liner and gravel did add a certain something to the proceedings, I was not very happy with the placement of the water pump.

Still brings a tear to the eye.
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  #10  
Old 05-18-2003, 02:39 PM
Hanna Hanna is offline
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A book would be a good idea. You need to know what plants you want to grow before you add soil - some plants like acidic soil, some plants like alkaline soil. As long as you are starting from scratch it would be a lot easier to use soil acceptable for the plants you want to grow than try and change the PH later.
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  #11  
Old 05-18-2003, 04:21 PM
Kal Kal is offline
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I have been doing a bit of looking online, jjimm, and found this article on the BBC website. Just two pages, but seems to have good basic information for you.

And one tip that I remember from building a rockery years back: Weed like you've never weeded before. Make sure that the soil is weed free before you actually do any planting, because they are a bugger to yank out once they have their roots nicely tucked under a rock or two.

If you do get weeds growing once the rockery is established (grass is a real git for doing it), get yersen one of those mini flamethrower things to help. You'll never be able to pull grass out and it beats hacking away with a pissy little trowel for hours on end.

Kal - who has a.. erm.. wildlife garden. Yeah, that's it. Conservation is my middle name. Ahem.
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  #12  
Old 05-19-2003, 05:45 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Cheers, Kalista. Good advice re. the blowtorch. I have one of them already for cooking, but never thought to use it in the garden.
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  #13  
Old 05-19-2003, 06:23 AM
elfje elfje is offline
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if your garden is sunny, and you have a small, sjeltered, sunny spot available, I can give you a sunflower.
I'm growing one on my windowsill at the moment, and it's coming along nicely.
Problem is, I don't think I'll be staying in my own place long enough to take care of it properly, and I don't want to plant it in the garden and then abandon it when i move.

So give me a shout if you'd like it (it'll take another cuppla months before it's ready to go outside, though)...
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  #14  
Old 05-19-2003, 06:33 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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I'd love a sunflower! Thanks, I shall take you up on that offer. Did you grow it from seed?
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  #15  
Old 05-19-2003, 07:12 AM
elfje elfje is offline
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yup!

and you're welcome.
Glad I found a good home for it

So how are things with your rockery? Coming along nicely, is it?
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  #16  
Old 05-19-2003, 07:20 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by elfje
So how are things with your rockery? Coming along nicely, is it?
No, because I still haven't got any soil, and it rained all yesterday. So it's still just a pile of rocks next to a piece of wasteland.
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  #17  
Old 05-19-2003, 07:29 AM
elfje elfje is offline
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if you get some peaty soil, you can plant some nice heathers. They do very well in Irish weather (as if i need to tell you) and require very little maintenance.
I think the important thing is to make sure the rockery drains well, at the bottom. So use lots of gravel to start with, then a layer of loose rocks, maybe then soil, and then a few rocks on top?

Or have you something else in mind?
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  #18  
Old 05-19-2003, 07:50 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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The books all say that you should take pains to make the rockery look like a natural outcrop, in a smallish, flat suburban garden, this really isn't very often possible.

There are, though, two things you can avoid doing:
--The Dog's Grave: a long oval or oblong mound with a few large stones, one of them conspicuously upright
--The Currant Bun - a circular mound haphazardly dotted with stones.

If your rock has any conspicuous strata, then you should try to align them all in parallel planes, it will look better if you have a few groups of rocks stacked or arranged close together - you can plant into the gaps in between.

Alternatively, if they are suitable, you could use your rocks to make a circular dry stone wall retaining a raised bed - you would still be able to plant into the cracks and it might look a bit more 'honest' than a fake rock outcrop.
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  #19  
Old 05-19-2003, 08:00 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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The rocks that I've got (don't be fooled by them, BTW - I am in fact still jjimmy from the block) are rather nice - they seem to be igneous, like granite, except beige. They're about yea big, and there's about 30 of them which just about cover the flat area. I have a feeling the currant bun might indeed be the thing I'm going to end up with.

Seems that before I do anything I've got to get some bloody soil. "Once you have the soil, all else follows", as Lao Tze said, when he was building a rockery. Probably.
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  #20  
Old 05-19-2003, 08:09 AM
Pergau Pergau is offline
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Are they igneous sedimentary or metamorphic? Or concrete?

Do you want the rockery to be low or high maintenance - no contest here.

What way does the garden face, is it shaded.

One tip I got a while ago was to take a walk around your neighbourhood and see the sort of plants that grow best there - and steal them for your own rockery.

If you're going for an alpine type garden, just make a big pile of rocks and fill the gaps between them with a mixture of peat and sand, or sand and clay. and plant your aplines in that. You can make the initial pile with rubble and bricks, concrete etc and put a layer of "nice"looking rocks on the top. This is a great way to get rid of the wife, or the remains of a shed.

If you're trying to make a big flowerbed, with decorative rocks, you'll need a lot of clay and peat etc.

Either way wait for a sunny day otherwise, you'll see all your hard work washed away.
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  #21  
Old 05-19-2003, 08:20 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Pergau
One tip I got a while ago was to take a walk around your neighbourhood and see the sort of plants that grow best there - and steal them for your own rockery.


I think they're metamorphic.

I don't think I've got enough rocks or hardcore to make an alpine one. So it's more likely it'll be earth-based with rocks dropped on it.

So where can I buy soil in Dublin?
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  #22  
Old 05-19-2003, 08:47 AM
Deej Deej is offline
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Definitely start with a pile of rubble. Then fill in the biggest gaps in the rubble with gravel or junk dirt, then some topsoil. If you leave big gaps way down in the pile, the first time it rains or you water, all your compost will wash down in, leaving your plants high and dry.

After the topsoil, start placing the rocks. Now is the time for the compost. Start from the bottom and think of the compost as mortar. Place a rock, fill in with compost a little and add another rock. Leave some big places (filled with compost) for big plants, leave some tiny places (also filled with compost) for tiny plants or mosses. Do a little pre planning, but don't be rigid.

Now if it were me, I would have covered the initial pile of rubble, gravel, and junk dirt with landscape fabric before I added the topsoil, compost and rocks. And every gap or pocket I put a plant into would be lined with it also. Works like a coffee filter....lets the water drain, but keeps the dirt in place. I don't know what you have available in Ireland, but in the states it's available and known as "weed blocker" or landscape fabric. It's a black, non woven, synthetic type stuff. It's available at garden centers in rolls about three feet wide. Some sell it by the foot, some are prepackaged in 25 or 50 foot lengths.
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  #23  
Old 05-19-2003, 03:21 PM
Green Bean Green Bean is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by jjimm
Loneliest thread on the SDMB.
Sorry, dude. We don't have "rockeries" in the Yoo-nited States of America. We do have rock gardens, however, and we do have the North American Rock Garden Society. There is a ton of information on that site about the construction of various types of rock gardens.
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  #24  
Old 05-20-2003, 05:02 AM
GuanoLad GuanoLad is offline
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What you do is, watch home improvement TV shows like "Backyard Blitz" which is of course Australian so you have no idea what I am talking about. But it's a very good garden makeover type show.
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  #25  
Old 05-20-2003, 05:58 AM
curly chick curly chick is offline
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The Chelsea Flower Show is on at the moment, jjimm.
I bet you could find some information on there.
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  #26  
Old 05-20-2003, 06:06 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Green Bean
Sorry, dude. We don't have "rockeries" in the Yoo-nited States of America. We do have rock gardens, however
That explains everything.

Thanks for the advice.
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  #27  
Old 05-20-2003, 09:30 AM
Pergau Pergau is offline
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You can buy bags of topsoil in Garden Centres, but you'd have to be Rockefeller (Geddit) to afford enough to make a rockery.

Is there any building work going on around you - They are normally happy to give away (bung the guy a few quid if necessary) topsoil but you need a wheelbarrow or a trailer to get enough for a rockery.

You can get Topsiol delivered to your house - look in the golden pages. A ton of soil will make an oval pile 6' X 3' by 1.5' - 2' high. I bought some (shortly after my wife left me unexpectedly and never came back...) and it cost about 50. Most of this was the delivery.

Deej's advice is good because topsoil is a bugger for weeds.
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