When creating a path, the first thing you have to do is decide where to cut in the slope. Do you want the path near the bottom, middle or top part of the slope? We are placing our slope smack dab in the middle of our slope, so now all we need to do is ‘cut in.’
Once we start cutting in the slope and grading it out a little, we will be depositing the soil from the top and packing it down below, forming a level path. But keep in mind that the width of your new path tells a lot; a narrow path tends to make people want to quickly move from point A to point B, while a wider path conveys a sense of wanting to linger and walk a little slower.
For our path, Tom is making a path of around four feet. To ensure a uniform width throughout the path, Tom simply uses a pre-cut, four-foot piece of pipe.
Before we lay stone, we need to put down a base material. A lot of people might be thinking to use sand for this purpose, but a better alternative is to use decomposed granite (DG).
If you look at each material up close, you’ll see why. Sand is round and will constantly be rolling around, while DG has rough little edges that will interlock and form a more stable base.
The most deceptive part of building a dry laid flagstone wall is the fact that most of the pieces in the wall are not broad, large pieces. Remember, the only part of the wall visible is the outside edge and the top piece.
So, by using smaller pieces while building the wall (not too small…), you can save considerably on the cost of materials. Save the nice, large pieces for the top level. Once you got a bunch of stone readied, you’re ready to build.
Simply lay down a row of stone, add a layer of DG on top and behind the stones, tap them secure with a rubber mallet, and then move on.
Make sure as you build the wall, the edges of each stone don’t line up (and make for a weaker wall). Another way to keep a sturdy wall is to ‘batter’ the wall back. ‘Battering’ is just a fancy term meaning to set each level of stone slightly back into the wall and at a slight angle.
Finally, all you need to do is lay on a top stone (pick a large, nice looking piece for these) and you’re done. But wait, this was supposed to be a living wall, right? While you a building a wall, leave some gaps for some plants, throw in some soil, put a plant in there, and then continue building. Any plant that likes good drainage will do.
When your wall is complete, not only will it be beautiful, but it will host many different varieties of your favorite plants.
Plants used for this project.