All in all, it's just another block in the wall...

DebZone8(S.Puget Sound)May 30, 2006

Hi all. I'm nearly completed with the right leg of my never-ending hypertufa block retaining wall project. What remains is mortaring in the capstones on the mini-pond and planting. I want to add a small subdued water feature to the pond that moves water but doesn't call attention to itself. This area is busy enough with the loops and quail faucet-in-a-column!

On the other side, I'm 13 blocks shy of completion and should be making them right now but am so tired of the little beasts that I can hardly stand to look at them. I ended up putting my original column planter over there. I'll post pictures when I'm done.

It's hard to take comprehensive pictures of this area because it's small and my back is at the corner of the house. The right leg of the wall and path goes to the sideyard gate and the left leg goes past bamboo and gunnera to the front yard.

If you're ever in my area, come by and I'll give you a tour!


Here is a link that might be useful: Right leg of my block wall

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DebZone8(S.Puget Sound)

Here's a better view of the column.


Here is a link that might be useful: Hypertufa column with quail faucet

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 9:37PM
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tulipfarmer(SW ON CAN)

AMAZING!!! You must feel very proud of your accomplishments - what a lot of work!
love that column!


    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 10:10PM
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Very Nice. How did you make the blocks, or did I miss that explanation?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 11:41PM
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Hey Deb,

that looks awesome! Like Laurel says, you must be very happy indeed spending time in what you've put together back there,


    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 12:51AM
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Deb, that looks so great. The whole garden is beautiful.You've certainly made a lot of blocks.Did you leave your column hollow and the add the plumbing in?

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 1:30AM
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lazydaisy(z7 NTX)

Gorgeous work as usual Deb! So, I guess you're never going to sell this house since you have so much of yourself put into that garden! :) I can see your family having to pull you out of there kicking and screaming!

BTW, how did you cast that green spring looking thing on your fountain out of hypertufa? :)

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 3:30AM
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Just Excellent Deb! Your blocks look SO much better than any of the "professionally" made items available. Good luck with the final're almost home now. And we definitely want to see it when completed.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 9:58AM
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Deb, that is so beautiful! Great job! How proud you must be.....

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 10:11AM
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DebZone8(S.Puget Sound)

Thank you! This is one of those projects that I wouldn't have started if I'd known how much work it would be. I have this awful fear that I will just keep making blocks and walls forever and create one of those folk art monstrosities...err, tourist attractions that people drive by and point at.

It is a good place to hang out. It's a pleasant spot for conversation or to sit and read a book. Large rhodies, a maple and some burning bush euonomys separate it from the rest of the front yard. We've been working on growing a privacy screen to separate it from the neighbors'. We just recently planted some golden bamboo (eek!) in the corner behind the column.

Paws, the blocks are hypertufa cast in 2 x 4 forms. I take them out when they're still pretty wet and leave them for a day or two before smoothing the lumps and rounding the edges and corners. They look similar to a stone I've seen called tumbled granite. Some I cast with styro wedges in the mold to make a wedge shape to go around curves. When they're cured, I fit them together like puzzle pieces and mortar them together. I've been working on this for two years now and stubbornness and having to look at an unfinished project are the only things that have kept me going ahead (oh, and a little taunting from CDNDavid :) )

Cindy, thanks! The column is hollow with the plumbing inside. There was a standpipe on a wood post in that spot that looked terrible with the wall, hence the column. I made the column and then DH drilled a hole and did the plumbing. I gave it a thick mortar base (underground) when I was putting in the blocks and filled the spot below it with drainrock.

Lazydaisy, I'M going to be the batty old woman who stands and waves at people who drive by to look at my folk art monument! Seriously, it would be hard to sell and move...I've put so much of myself into it. BTW, that green coily thing is the latest in hypertufa but I'm not telling anybody's going to make me a fortune!


    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 10:13AM
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sereneseen(z4 IA)


Your block wall is wonderful. You are an inspiration to us all. I've been thinking about creating something like this on my own. I have limited resources and I was wondering cost wise if making my own blocks would be cheaper. Have you done the math yet on your block wall in terms of cost of you doing it yourself versus buying all those blocks. Just wondering before I really entertain the idea of creating my own block wall.

Again, you did a wonderful job and your garden is beautiful.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 9:19PM
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wannadanc(z8 WA)

I am incredibly impressed!!!!!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 9:58PM
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DebZone8(S.Puget Sound)

Serene, thank you.

For you, girlfriend, I'm going to try to do a rough guestimate: Each block uses approximately one quart of portland, two quarts of playsand and one+ quart of peatmoss with just a little liquid colorant(buff). I think I get about 50 blocks per 90lb bag of portland. If the same pint = pound rule works for sand, then 50 blocks use 100 qts. which would be 200 lbs. and 4 bags. I think that's a little low but as close as I can figure.

If a bag of portland cement costs @ $9.00 and a bag of sand costs $3.50 then 50 blocks would cost around $23.00. So, unless my math is really off, the cost of each 7" x 7" x 3.5" block is approximately $0.50 each. I rounded up a little to include tax, peat moss (I buy broken bags for $1) and the negligible amount of colorant. There would also be the initial outlay for 2 x 4's and screws to make the forms (I stole boards from DH's stash).

You would have to measure the area that you want to cover and divide by the size of the block to figure how many would be needed. If I had it to do over I'd use 2 x 6 boards and make the blocks at least 10 x 10 x 6. Harder to lift but it would go way faster.

Hope this helps--my head hurts!


    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 10:20PM
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sereneseen(z4 IA)

Deb, thanks for doing the math for me. $.50 a brick is a lot cheaper than paying $1.60 or more per brick. Now all I have to do is talk my hubby into the idea. I'm going to need roughly 400 bricks!

One more question: when you made the blocks, did you soak them or hose them for a period of time to allow for curing? If so, how long did you soak or water them for?

Thanks tons,

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 11:22PM
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Dena6355(z8 WA)

Very nice work. I believe when you wave to people they will wave back, and you will exchange smiles.
You have created a wonderful place to hang out.
I hope you are able to appreciate all the work you have done and congratulate yourself too.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2006 at 12:01AM
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rustinj(z7 AL)

Awesome! I think that's the first Pink Floyd hypertufa reference ever. I would really like to see this wall once it has aged a bit. The effort really paid off!!!


    Bookmark   June 1, 2006 at 12:26AM
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rickharmer(z4British Colum)

A great piece of work.And proof that some addictions are good!
On your water feature-L&L showed slides of some of theirs last year up our way.I noticed that they,in one case,simply placed a small pump at the bottom of their feature and let it slowly move the surface.No tubing,no add-on,just the pump on the bottom.Looking at it from an angle I'd guess that you would see a rippling of the surface,no larger action.Definitely peaceful,and not noisy in any way.Just a thought..
Cheers from here and congrats again on your wonderful work.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2006 at 2:10AM
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Deb, your hard work is well worth the time you have put into this project, because you have done a great job, and it looks wonderful :-)

    Bookmark   June 1, 2006 at 6:23PM
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Rainsend(z5 MA)

Thank you for sharing the beautiful work you do. It is very inspiring!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2006 at 9:08PM
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myback_garden(6b ON Canada)

Deb:looking at the pics of your yard just makes me want to come over and sit a spell..congrats on almost nearing completion..I remember when I first came on the forum and saw the pics of your first parts..back then I thought..holy smokes..awesome job...and it just keeps on getting better. I can hardly wait to see it completed...You should be very proud of what you have done. I just love it..:)Deb K

    Bookmark   June 1, 2006 at 11:51PM
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DebZone8(S.Puget Sound)

Thank you everyone! You are an amazing group! I gain so much from your friendly encouragement, ideas, technical knowledge and personal experiences. Sometimes the solution to something that's been holding me up lies in a fresh perspective and I can always count on that from you "right brain thinkers."

Justin: This area used to grow sheets of spagnum moss on the soil so I'm hopeful...

Rick: Good idea--I've seen what you're talking about and it's simple enough for non-plumbers, like me. It also won't interfere with the darmera that I want to plant in the pond. I'm focusing on foliage instead of flowers (for the most part) with a lot of large leaves and texture and a limited color range in this garden to encourage the feeling of contemplative space. A lot of splashing would interfere with that. I don't remember hearing splashing when I visited L&L's garden--I'd like to capture that "holy" feeling that they created. (Don't know how else to describe it). Any ideas on how to keep raccoons out?

Sereneseen: I didn't soak them. I just covered them with plastic sheeting and misted for a couple of days then stacked them on my shady front porch for three weeks to a month for curing. When I do a batch of 20, they take up almost all of my worktable space that's easy to reach without stretching too far. BTW--insider tip: Once each summer the big box hardware stores put Windsor block on sale for $1 each. The price of concrete has gone up because of Katrina and higher shipping (fuel!) but they may still put them on sale this year--it gets a lot of people in their stores. We have a 100' x 2' retaining wall to do in the backyard and are actually contemplating Windsor block (gasp! shudder!) I'm not not fond of the look (putting it mildly) but it would be expedient and not too much more expensive than making block. If we do it, I will make capstones to try to mitigate the utilitarian sameness of it. I just don't think I'm up to making 200 sqft of block!

Again, thanks for all of your kind words everyone--people seem amazed when I tell them that I learned everything I know about hypertufa on the internet. You guys rock!


    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 10:36AM
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gemfire(z9/10 AZ)

Great job Deb, very beautiful and inspiring.

Thanks for sharing,

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 4:01AM
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dian2(z6 pgh pa)

I sit here in absolute awe at the beauty. You put in a lot of thought and hard work and it certainly has paid off. I remember back when you started this.
Fantastic job. I bow down to you

    Bookmark   June 4, 2006 at 3:16PM
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DebZone8(S.Puget Sound)

Thanks very much!


    Bookmark   June 5, 2006 at 12:57AM
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