Garden Wall

After I pick up topsoil and run a few other errands, Siena and I are both at the house ready to prepare for putting in a raised bed along the side of the house in the space between the retaining wall and the slender sidewalk which runs to the patio area unearthed by our friend Harry this summer. I’m washing off the boards from old shelving in the attic which we’ll use to contain the bed when Siena suggests the wall is in pretty bad shape, and we should rearrange some of the stones before we map out the bed. I’m hesitant, knowing that actually fixing the wall would take hours, but I figure we could get things a little neater, we pull a few stones down.

Getting a sense of the weight of the stones, the mass of creeping soil behind, and how deep we will have to go to reset, I don’t even want to consider the fact that we may not even have all the pieces to the puzzle. I begin to have second thoughts.

Now, the storm drain which connects the alley to another drain in our yard, connecting again to a pipe which guides the water down to the main channels for storm runoff; it’s been clogged for awhile. And in the meantime, all the excess water has been soaked up by the soil of our hillside, and the weight and expansion caused our wall to bulge out, toppling some stones which were put back haphazardly, unable to stack correctly since the base stones which tilted at wild angles.

When we took stock of the yard last July, the area looked something like this:

although the section to the right of where the image ends is where the blocks really got wonky. These photos, taken a few weeks later, are midway through digging out the concrete patio.

But even after seeing that endless task accomplished, and triumphantly powerwashing off the last remnants of dirt, I didn’t really believe we could solve the puzzle.

Julia joined our cause, and we made strong headway in the tearing down portion of the project.

Our friends Dave and Tyler showed up to cheer us on. Eventually, everyone had a share in the rock moving and the wall began to take shape.

We arranged and rearranged some more, trying blocks out, changing our minds, and finally after two hours, we had a handsome blockwall, backfilled with the old concrete bits. The ropes of weed roots which had tangled themselves amongst the block were all gone, and a drainage pipe was installed below the bottom blocks, with some sturdy mesh to keep the entrance clear.

Tyler stayed to help Siena and Julia add a small terraced bed above the wall, and we’ll tackle the raised bed below in the coming week. After that? We’ll find a new home for this friend, who wants to eat everything in our garden. Let us know if you’d like a pet groundhog.


About mitchcollective

MITCH Collective is a community-driven catalyst promoting creativity in the Ohio Valley. MITCH Collective enriches Martins Ferry, Ohio and nearby towns by: -inviting artists, writers, and musicians to experience the beauty and creative potential of the area while creating new work and interacting with local residents through the residency program. -inspiring a historically economically depressed area by teaching new skills and ideas that will help foster new problem solving approaches for challenges that face the community. -collaborating with nonprofit and municipal organizations in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania to bring innovative, interdisciplinary projects to life. Facilities include printmaking, screen printing, sewing, quilting, and bookbinding. Visit for more information.
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