Time, energy level and an upcoming party led me to attack a project that has been on my to-do list for a long time. In our back garden, there is a hill, with one yew bush perched on top, that was, at one time, part of the Japanese theme of the garden. Over the years, the larger rocks have receded into the soil and its river rock covering disappeared as well.
The first item was to roll aside the larger rocks and try to recover as much of the river rock as possible for later use. My wife and son helped to gather them up and we found probably 20-30 pounds of the small stones. These we attempted to clean up and then set them aside.
After moving the larger rocks out of the way, I trimmed the circumference of the hill down to a more manageable size. My goal was to insure that the larger rocks could encompass the entire hill with perhaps a few stones left over for a second tier. The soil removed from the hill was used to fill in the depressions left by the stones and to add soil to the top of the hill itself.
After replacing all the large stones around the newly sculpted hill, I used additional soil to backfill the interior of the hill, forming a more level top than before. Over this layer of soil, I added a light covering of cement, making sure to pour some into the inside crevices of the larger stones. I then covered the top with the salvaged river rock, making a nice neat covering once again. Once this was completed, I lightly watered the entire structure, wetting the concrete and cleaning the rocks themselves.
It is my hope that the cement will lightly knit together the structure and help to hold the rocks in place when we do get our Winter rains. I took the idea from an article I saw in Sunset Magazine about developing garden paths. In their example, the path was cleaned and a bed of decomposed granite was laid. On top of that, dry cement was spread lightly over the entire path. Then the path was watered. This results in a wonderful natural looking pathway that is much more resilient than a loose covering of the stone. I plan on trying out that method for my paths at a future date.
The picture gallery contains a few pictures showing before and after. They are part of the My Garden gallery, so you may have to scroll down a but to find them.
I think the rebuild was a nice improvement to the back garden and hopefully it will last another 17 years before needing another rebuild. If you have any questions or comments, please forward them to me and I will share them here.