Like A Bridge Over Troubled Water

spectre(SZ 24, US 10b)January 16, 2004

Hello All:

I'm designing a garden path with pavers that meanders through an area with berms and slopes. I've come to a part of the garden that, until now, has been a mud pit when it rains. I've cut a channel to drainage and converted it to a dry creek.

Now that I have this channel, I need to construct a bridge for the path. The theme of my garden has relied heavily on stone, so I want the bridge to look like it's made of stone as well. For cost and skill reasons, I don't want to go all stone in construction, so I've chosen to use a wood frame with ledger facing (the pre-fab kind that's about 3" thick).

Can anyone suggest a way of attaching the ledger stone to wood. Should I go with the chicken-wire/asphalt paper method, screw them into the wood dry, construction adhesive, or what?

Thanks in advance for informed replies.


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Spectre ~

How big is your bridge going to be? At our last house we had a number of dry stream beds and we used large pieces of 1-1/2"-2" thick Arizona flagstone (with bricks underneath for support) for bridges. THe larges piece was probably about 3' x 4'. If your dry stream bed is pretty shallow, as ours were, you could use several of these pieces closely spaced. Easy to do and it matched our use of flagstone elsewhere in the garden.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2004 at 8:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
spectre(SZ 24, US 10b)

Hi Susi:

The bridge spans a gully (created to permit drainage of the mudflat) about 6' long. The wood framing (4x4 with 2x4 decking) is 3' feet wide. It's built to seemlessly carry over concrete pavers from one side to another with no interruption. It's also about 18" above the creek.

Thank you for your suggestion as I have used the method you suggested for the minor paths I'm building. Unfortunately, the bridge is carrying a major path, and as such, as to be a major design feature.


    Bookmark   January 16, 2004 at 8:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
denisew(z8 TX)

Have you thought of using faux stone? I saw a show on TLC - While You Were Out - where they attached faux stone to the side of a house and deck railings to make it look like an Irish pub. It was lightweight and all they had to do was screw it to the wood. They could cut it to length too. I have no idea where one would get this, but I would start with the home improvement centers in your area or even check with landscapers who do a lot of water gardens because sometimes they will use faux stone for waterfalls. Of course, all will agree that you could do a search on-line to get more information. Wish I had more to offer, but just saw this as an easy option if you can find the product.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2004 at 10:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
spectre(SZ 24, US 10b)

Hi Denise:

The faux stone as you call it is the material I'm working with (here they call it fake ledger stone). It's a lightweight, molded material that comes in many styles and it's sold in rockeries. The application I have is fairly unique and most of the time it's applied over concrete block with mortar.

You did answer the question, however, by telling me how they did it on While You Were Out. You definitely helped me out, I wasn't able to find that info anywhere.

Thanks for the info, Denise.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2004 at 11:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't know how they did it on the TV show but faux stone is simply glued, with non-shrink grout -- though finding the right specialty glue is always a challenge. Problem is that faux stone doesn't expand with dampness and wood does ... to alleviate the problem with glues you can cover the wood with cement board (screw on teh cement board) and then cement the faux stone to the board.
This bridge will begin to deteriorate in about ten years so sealing the faux stone against fading is probably unnecessary. BTW faux stone is MORE expensive than real stone but it takes less skill (time) to apply. Building the frame out of metal would increase the lifetime of the bridge and make gluing easier (steel doesn't exand with dampness) ... but, as a note, if it is a low bridge just for foot traffic, using a couple of real stone slabs with a couple of real stone blocks for support can be cheaper, easier to build and, of course, last hundreds of years longer.
- A

    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 1:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
spectre(SZ 24, US 10b)

Hello Asha:

Thank you for the advice...adding a cement board is something I wanted to avoid, but if I have to....

I'll go out, take a pic, and post it in the gallery of what I have now so you can see what I'm doing. I looked at real stone slabs, but they turned out to be really expensive and I couldn't find a slab that matched the stone I already have in place.

Hopefully, I'll have the pic up before tonight.

Thanks again for your help.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 3:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would second Asha's suggestion. A 6' - 7' x 2' x 3" slab is a big chunk of stone but you could use two or three smaller pieces supported by boulders. You could even go for the zig zag that has a name in the Japanese stylt but I can't think of it. You know where you have three or four slabs of flat stone slightly overlapping at the sides. If you could only see me waving my arms about you would know exactly what I mean!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 4:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Liquid Nails?

Mortar between joints?

    Bookmark   January 19, 2004 at 2:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
spectre(SZ 24, US 10b)

Hello Asha and All:

I finally managed to take a pic of the bridge I'm constructing. If you recall, I have faux stone I want to face it with. This is a transition between a rainforest garden (behind POV) and the desert/succulent garden room (across the bridge and forward). As I mentioned, the slab bridge would have been cost prohibitive, so I came up with this.

Everyone has come up with the options I initially listed, but I'd like to know the best and easiest way to go. If I mortar, do I need asphalt paper or cement board? If I screw the faux stone into the wood, do I still need cement board? I think liquid nails might not last long enough. Advice? Help now that you see what I'm trying to do?

Thanks again.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2004 at 9:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

the reason for cement board is that you can screw the board to the wood and then, since the cement baord doesn't swell and shrink due to moisture in the air, it is easy to mortar or glue the faux stone to the cement board. you can also cut the faux stone with a saw so that it has a channel and then place it on top of the wood brace. This will hide both sides and top.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2004 at 11:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
spectre(SZ 24, US 10b)


Thank you very much for giving me the definitive answer. I'll work on it over the next few weeks and I'll post another pic.

Thank you, again, Asha.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2004 at 11:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ginger_nh(z4 NH)

I like the way it goes up and over the the rise - graceful. What is the water that runs beneath it? Or is there any water? occasional runoff?

    Bookmark   January 23, 2004 at 5:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Having looked at the picture thoroughly I have to say that I don't think you have a sustainable design there spectre. The load bearers don't extend far enough into the bank to cope with the erosion that is evident in the exposed roots shown. I think you need to attend to the basic structure of your bridge before ornamenting it because any movement in the existing bridge and your pavers will be wobbly and unsafe.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2004 at 11:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
spectre(SZ 24, US 10b)

Hey Guys:

I should go over some background about this spot. This was a low point in the yard where the water would sit after a rain and turn it into a mud pit. I trenched a swale on the south end of this to allow water to flow to an existing grate.

I used the excavated soil to create berms and slopes on opposite sides of what has now become a future dry wash. The flow through the channel never runs wider than 6 inches and very, very slowly. I have not yet finished the creek decoration yet (no rocks, marginal plants, etc.)

Tony, the exposed roots that you see is from a Strelitzia reginae (bird of paradise) that I split, but was to lazy to plant yet. The other exposed roots are Roundup treated bermuda grass. In other words, no erosion has occurred yet because I just built these berms up two months ago. The areas that are "somewhat" completed on the far side where the bougainvillea have 10" lava rocks as a loose retaining wall. The lava rock walls tie the "jungle theme" in other parts of the garden with the upcoming "succulent" garden, a la Lotusland in Santa Barbara, CA.

On the left near side, I plan to backfill with more soil to completely disguise the pier that you can see.

I really appreaciate the advice and some of things mentioned because it shows I'm on the right track...Tony, the load bearers are about 6" below original grade on firm ground and base gravel, and the soil around was either Bobcatted in and tamped in place after a few months of settling. I just haven't finished all the backfilling yet.

And even if this is short-lived, it's no big deal because it's in my garden and I can redo again . And, Tony, you can specify the kind of crow I prefer me to eat if it falls apart. . If you're ever in San Diego, you are invited to check it out personally!


    Bookmark   January 23, 2004 at 11:54AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
John_D(USDA 8b WA)

After looking at your photo, it strikes me that a shallow ford would have been more appropriate for this site than a nondescript bridge, especially when your climate is taken into consideration. I have seen successful fords like this in different parts of California. Most have pipes beneath a concrete or stone pathway, so small amounts of water can flow freely, while the low-profile ford allows flood waters to pass over the pathway during a rare gullywasher,

I have a photo somewhere and I'll post it in the gallery if I can find it.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2004 at 4:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

more work for the OED

    Bookmark   January 23, 2004 at 8:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
spectre(SZ 24, US 10b)


Forgive me if I seem to be out of the loop, but I am missing something with my word, "bobcatted?" And where does the Oxford Dictionary fit in? Inquiring minds want to know?


    Bookmark   January 23, 2004 at 9:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
John_D(USDA 8b WA)

"bobcatted" isn't in Webster's either. Did you invent the term?

    Bookmark   January 23, 2004 at 10:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
spectre(SZ 24, US 10b)

Yes, I did...what seems to be the problem there, officer?


    Bookmark   January 23, 2004 at 10:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

i thought it was quite humerous - i liked it, words are like flowers (don't ask me how -"
today a person told me "Don't shoot the cart before the horse is out of the barn" i don't know what that meant but i liked it...
sorry to be off the topic...
"I bobcatted about the garden" I like it...

    Bookmark   January 23, 2004 at 11:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
John_D(USDA 8b WA)

Is that the same as caterwauling?

    Bookmark   January 23, 2004 at 11:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

First off- I am not going to be of any help with your bridge, but I wish you many safe miles walking across it.

I am going to try to pick your brain! How did you build the dry creek? I have been waanting to make one for years now but don't know where to start!!



    Bookmark   January 25, 2004 at 11:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mjsee(Zone 7b, NC)

If "googled" and "googling" are words, then I would submit that "Bobcatted" is a word as well. Wish I knew how to operate one!


    Bookmark   January 25, 2004 at 11:54AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

re dry creek: Spectres' is rather interesting in that it seems to be rather without the drain rock which most use. IT is hard to tell but it looks as if it might be made as a speciqal environment for special plants... which might be a dry stream that requires a lot of up keep ( a dry stream for the plant enthusiast) unless it is already in the desert.
the typical dry stream is a lot of draiin rock droped in a ditch... which can be made well or sloppy but is quite different from what shows in the pics..
- A

    Bookmark   January 25, 2004 at 12:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
spectre(SZ 24, US 10b)

Sorry Folks:

I wish I can say that I have designed a new revolutionary form of dry creek bed, but unfortunately, this one is in the "work in process" stage. There will be a mix of gravel and rocks eventually with a transition, left to right, of tropical to desert plants. The dry stream is the low point of slopes to either side, so as the microsprayers water the plants above, the runoff will take care of the plants I plan to put at creekside.

The plants I'm envisioning are riparian in their native habitat, so they can handle a drenching and go weeks with out water. These include things like papyrus, palm grass, heliconias in the rain forest, and more water tolerant succulents on the desert side. The two sides will be on two valves so one side will go a minimum of a month between waterings, while the rainforest will get sprayed a little over once a week.

The area where the bridge is goes through a transition zone where I've planted things that are happy either way, like Dypsis decaryi Triangle Palm, bird of paradise Strelitzia reginae and sun loving bromeliads, like Aechmea sp.

Hope that clears up the mystery creek.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2004 at 4:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


the most difficult part about using a Bobcat is to keep it from jerking when starting out. Once you've mastered that, you look pretty good driving one even if you have no idea what you are doing (I am a case in point).


    Bookmark   January 25, 2004 at 4:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dig a trench ( you decide how wide,long & deep)put large rocks on the sides, a few in the middle, one or two partialy buried in the bank of the trench.Then place smaller cantaloupe size rocks in the bed. Now get pea stone same color of the larger rocks & soft ball size rocks. Place the soft ball size so close that there is no room between them & use smaller rocks to fill in any hole, for really small spaces us the pea stone. Most rocks should be buried in the FLOOR of the dry bed, if you like, you can add pea stone around them, before setting larger stone next to them, until bed is completely covered.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 10:31PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Newbies need help! Garden rehabilitation
Hello! We are Claudia and Ferran, we have just moved...
Rehabbing an Old Azalea Garden
Back in the late 60's an azalea hedge was planted in...
LARGE overgrown garden... what and when and how?
I saw a few posts similar to mine... bought a house,...
Garden make over
Hello! im having trouble creating a tropical garden...
New Home, Overrun Garden
Hi, my husband I just purchased a new house, a short...
Sponsored Products
Worthy Leather U-Sofa Sectional (3 piece) - Brighton Sunset Orange
Joybird Furniture
Hugo Rug 9' x 12' - BLUE/GRAY
$2,599.00 | Horchow
42" x 46" Red Cedar Cross Legged Picnic Table with (2) 46" Backed Benches
Gray Geo Stitch Accent Lamp Shade
Cost Plus World Market
Sloan - Two-seat sofa in Night fabric
Interior Define
Clio Chrome Concealed Thermostatic Triple Shower Faucet 2 Outlets
Hudson Reed
Crosley Turntable Console with CD Player Multicolor - CR44CD
$319.99 | Hayneedle
Zuo Modern Myan Mirror in Clear
Beyond Stores
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™