Boulder Retainer Wall

As the original designer of Leafhopper Farm, Steve, used to say; “It’s all about entropy.” This is true, especially when you’re living on a hillside. The area below has been slipping south, and I’ve had plans to build a retaining wall for a while. Now the rock is in, and hugaculture beds set for more garden growth. This area will be planted with natives and cultivated as an amazing sun trap. The rockery also offers unique habitat options for our local wildlife, and I hope a lot of snakes call it home in future.

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We’re also trying to remain aware of human use in space, part of the permaculture inspiration at Leafhopper Farm. A footpath established from the parking area to the main living spaces compelled access, so a ramp was put in to allow for human foot traffic, and the use of a wheelbarrow. This freshly establish bed space will receive a cover crop and some good watering in the coming weeks. Bare earth is not good, and in these hotter months ahead, establishing ground cover will be harder, but not impossible with some good irrigation.

 

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This new rock wall is also addressing drainage, as much of the water falling during heavy rain further up this slope sheets off down the hill and into the driveway. Now the retaining wall catches that runoff into beds, and many new plants put in will suck up that moisture with enthusiasm. There will still be overflow drainage planning, and in future, perhaps a rain garden instillation will go in. Though we are getting less and less rain, when it does come down, it pours, impeding the slow soak in which this environment is better suited to.

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This parking space is also now well defined for future use. Creating clear transition zones in more often used areas of a landscape helps direct smooth flow and clear design. Anyone approaching this wall will naturally move to the ramp to go past the barrier. The landscape is held in deep planting beds behind large rockery stacked boulders. The form is pleasing and well shaped in a curving flow along a south facing slope. The solar heat bank within these igneous giants will keep the beds warmer, and reptiles happy too. Our snake and lizard populations are allies in the control of insects and gastropods.

With the use of natural material from our area, we have sculpted a topographic anchor, improving the landscape and addressing one of our greatest challenges on a hillside, erosion. The project took an afternoon to complete using a bucket loader, a delivery of stone from another excavation site near by which wanted them removed, and biomass from the farm to build up our new planting beds. Having a practiced operator for the machine was also priceless, doing a project like this yourself would take several days of boulder maneuvering in unskilled hands. Another great shout out to Mark for knowing his machinated helpers so well.

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