DIY: Rock-garden Restoration

When we moved in to our home, we had some large bushes that were in front of the home that hid the windows and allowed a place for mice to hide. I do not want mice hiding next to my home. My home borders protected woodlands. I am happy to have those woods as on hot summer days like today, as the tall, old trees help cool my home and the non wooded parts of my property with shade. Plus, bordering on the woods makes me feel like I have bother larger land, and that we live further into the hinterlands, instead of a 10 minute walk to a strip mall.

I dug out those bushes and put in crushed marble along with a few evergreen plants. I did not remember to put down plastic or some other kind of weed protection. My beautiful rock garden became a weed carpet, and my evergreens did not get a chance to grow in spite of putting them in with peat, water, and a bit of fertilizer.

So much for all that money I spend on stone. I had some ground plastic left over from when I put my son’s sand box together some years ago, and just never got around to restoring this area. A few weeks ago, I finally got around to doing it. I should have posted this then, but you know how life gets at times.

Rather than dig up the marble and clean off the stones, my frugality has it’s limits, I decided to just buy new stone to put on top of the existing stone, and I would do it right this time. I put the ground fabric down first. My son and I had some fun going to Home Depot to get the stone for this one, and pulling up those weeds by hand wasn’t hard. The weed whacker also did some duty here.

You can see my son’s gloves there.

I had to buy a fair number of bags, 10 all told ($50), before I had the depth and coverage that I wanted. The next problem was that I stone over the level of the ground, and again I did not want to hit that with the lawn mower. I found a edging plastic that you can pound into the ground with a rubber mallet. It was easy to install and fun again for my son and I to do together. I mean what 5 year old doesn’t like what was effectively the wack-a-mole game.

To get the edging plastic in the way I wanted I used a square bladed shove to essentially dig a ditch into the edge of the grass/plastic border you see there. Those rocks I cleaned off a bit, pounded the plastic in, and then back-filled the cleaned stone. The cleaned stone will allow some grass/weeds to grow in, but still limit it. Ideally, I’d like those stones to be covered, and I suspect over time they will be. The plastic border I cut with a metal saw that I had from an electronics project I did some years ago, but it’s a great tool to cut this plastic. It’s something like this hack saw here. I got through the plastic in a minute or so.

This looks much better. You can see my wheelbarrow in this photo which is where I put the stones and dirt that I dug up. I dug it up a few days before I put this back into the ground, and the rationale was that the dry dirt would be easier to shake off. It was.

I was thinking about those stunted evergreens, and it occurred to me that this part of the house is pretty much in a rain shadow, so I now water these 3 plants periodically help them get deeper roots. I suspect that is a factor in their stunted growth after like 4 years! You might also notice the even spacing there. To clear the weeds, I often pushed the lawn mower in between them, and that cut the plants and the weeds into this shape. Not my best move there.

I also adjusted another spot on my yard. My neighbor has run-off onto my yard from their downspouts. It goes to a drain that runs under my driveway, but leaf litter often would clog the drain. I put natural stones from my yard to help things, but again, I forgot to put down the ground plastic. I also wanted something that looked a bit neater. I removed the stones, put down more of that left over ground fabric, and then added a few bags of blue-stone and a few concrete paving bricks. I like this look, so I will buy a few more of those bricks and replace the other natural stones when I next get to Home Depot.

This should be a lot easier to mow around while looking better to me and doing the job I need it to do. I am not sure what I will do with the stones I collected from the woods and put there, but for now they are in a pile on the edge of the woods again. My home has lots of old stone walls from the farmers that were here up to a century or so ago, as does the whole region, and so maybe I will just add them to one of those walls.

That was another one of my June projects. This was done over 2 weekends as my plans developed. Total costs:

  • Crushed Marble – 10 bags – $50
  • Ground Plastic – $0
    • left over from another project but about $2 worth of material
  • Edge Plastic – $15 – I have about $5 of that left over if I can find another use
  • Bricks for Drain Improvement – 3 bricks – $9
  • Blue-stone for Drain Improvement – 5 bags – $25
  • Time Spent: 3 hours over 2 weekends
    • I could have done that all at once had I made my decisions ahead of time and had all the materials. I guessed wrong on the crushed marble and changed my mind to add the edge plastic instead of my original idea.


  1. This looks like a very reasonable project – it looks clean and minimalist (and also keeps weeds away). I’m going to propose something similar to my wife for a flowerbed around our home. Thanks!


  2. Thanks, that is the idea exactly. The only issue is that rain sometimes has troubles getting through, so I water those plants occasionally. I actually prefer them to stay small, so this works for me as is.


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