One of the best techniques for making very beautiful raised beds is through dry-laid installation. This method of construction uses single stones that are laid on a sand and gravel bed, with tightly compacted sand holding the design intact. The walls of a garden bed built from stone would be formed like miniature retaining walls.
Not only do dry-laid stones help you get the required soil mix for healthier plants, but they also decrease backpressure, as you need not bend too far in order to work on them. Furthermore, natural stone walls look fantastic and are not difficult to build.
Garden boxes or retention walls, in most cases, need a building safety approval or a building permit. You will also need planning approval or a development permit if your site or design does not comply with the bylaw specifications for land use.
In this guide, we will teach you the simplest and the most time-saving method of creating a stone planter that would stand for many years. We will also be providing tips for sorting and positioning stones in order to produce beautiful stonework.
Equipment and Materials
To construct a raised stone garden bed, these are the materials and equipment that you would need:
- Landscape fabric
- Tuckpointing tool
- Utility knife
- Cold chisel
- Rubber mallet
- Safety glasses
Planning Your Stone Garden Bed
Using a garden hose or a rope, begin the process by outlining the shape of the planter on the ground. These types of dry-stacked walls should only have a height of up to 3 feet to avoid them from being knocked over.
You may order the materials you need after the size and shape of the structure is set. When you go to the supplier, don’t forget to bring the measurements with you. They will help you decide on how much stone, topsoil, pea gravel, and landscape fabric you would need for your garden bed.
Choosing the Right Stone
When choosing your stone, select pieces that are very flat and thin, which are easier to work with. Also, pick stones that have similar widths.
Depending on your region, search through suppliers to select a stone that you want. Here at Ornamental Stone Calgary, we offer you a natural stone called Ledgestone with a shape that is very suitable for constructing garden beds or small retaining walls. You can either pick our Charmin Ledge Stone or our Rundle Flagstone.
Digging the Trench and Adding Some Gravel
With the use of a rope or hose, mark the border of your raised garden bed. Break up the ground beside the rope to build a trench that is 12 inches deep and 10 inches wide. Then, make the bottom even and make steps to fit sloping regions.
The steps should be made to match the thickness of the stones that you will be using for the first course. When you have dug the whole trench, add pea gravel of about 4 inches deep. Position a stone on top of every foot or so, as you add the gravel, and check the level. As necessary, gradually add or remove gravel until it is nearly leveled.
The Laying of Landscape Fabric and the Base Course
Spread the landscape fabric around the trench, leaving an edge of the fabric in the trench’s center. With the use of stones, weigh down the fabric temporarily to keep it stable.
Then, mount your stone base course over the gravel and the landscape fabric’s edge. Make sure that they are leveled, checking on every couple of stones. Using a rubber mallet, pound the high stones down, and then apply gravel under low stones to cover the fabric.
You must avoid wide gaps between stones that are visible on the face of the wall to make your stonework look good. Get rid of the protruding parts using a masonry chisel. You may ignore the gaps inside the wall since they will not be seen anyway.
Stacking the Stones
Lay out the other courses after you have built the base course, with the exception of the capstone. To provide more strength to the walls and get a more pleasant look, offset the joints between the courses and balance the color, the height, and the length of the stones as you lay them down.
Pull the landscape fabric close against the stones as you finish a couple of courses, and shovel the topsoil against the walls. You can hold the stones in place by backfilling up to the top of the last row.
Leveling the Final Course
Diligently pick and place stones while you are laying the last course. This will ensure that the peak of the whole course is flat and level enough to conveniently lay your capstone. Then use a utility knife to trim the fabric of the landscape, making sure that it covers the final stone course by approximately 4 inches. Mount the capstones afterward, in a way that they are slightly overhanging the courses beneath them.
Position the first two capstones on the wall to cut them to fit, and draw parallel lines approximately on both stones using a straightedge so that the edges match. Fill the gap with a stone wedge if a couple of capstones fit perfectly along the outer edge but leave a wide gap on the interior of the wall, instead of cutting large parts of the capstones off.
Applying Mortar and Tuckpointing the Capstones
When the capstones have been dry-laid, add mortar to keep them securely in place. In a wheelbarrow, mix a bag of mortar with water, and then place some in a container.
Take a few capstones from the planter, and add mortar underneath and on top of the landscape fabric. Put the capstones back onto the wall and press them into the mortar, two or three capstone pieces at a time. This will keep the mortar from drying out on the wall. Then apply mortar and set the whole capstone course.
Use a trowel to fill the joints with mortar, and let it dry. Leave the mortar to settle overnight. After the mortar has set, you can now put some soil and mulch on top of the planter and fill it with all sorts of flowers and plants that you want.