How To Build A Rockery - Part 4

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Before you start building, it is a good idea to draw a rough sketch of the rockery. These are the things to consider when drawing up your plan:

Each rocky outcrop is formed into an L-shape with the large keystone in the centre.

The arms of the L-shape are made up of a line of closely packed stones. These get gradually smaller the further they are from the key stone.

A layer of grit mixed with topsoil/compost is sandwiched between each outcrop.

Each outcrop is positioned slightly to the rear of the one below it to provide small terraces for planting flowers. You can have as many outcrops as you like providing you don�t excess the recommended height.

Once your plan is completed, you can start moving the stones into position. Begin with the key stone. Angle is backwards towards the middle of the rockery and ram soil underneath to hold in in place. If the key stone is particularly large, you may find it easier to level or roll it into the correct position with stout timber or a pick.

Now complete the L-shape by laying the stones that form the two �arms�. Before you position each stone, examine it for strata marks: the stone should be laid so that these run roughly parallel to the ground. As you position each stone, tilt it slightly backwards and pack soil around the bottom so that about a quarter of the stone is covered.

One the lower L-shaped outcrop is completed; fill the inside with the topsoil/grit mix to a height just above the stones. Rake the mix flat and then tread it gently into place, taking care not to disturb the stones.

Now start on the second layer. This is positioned just behind the first � so fewer stones are needed. Repeat the procedure used to build the first outcrop: position the key stone. Followed by the two adjoining rows, then fill the inside of the L-shape with bedding material. Build up in this way until you reach the final outcrop, which consists of a few medium size stones balanced together to form a small pinnacle.

Finally, walk around the outside of your rockery and pack down any loose areas of earth with your foot. This will stop the stones coming loose from there positions while they are given time to settle. Last of all, cover most of the exposed soil with a 25mm layer of grit.

This is now all the hard work done, your rockery should have really taken shape now, and hopefully you�ll be happy with your results. The fun part is now selecting which plants to buy and where to position them. Personally I think you are best of with alpine style plants to give a feel of Italian feel, or long pampas grass style plants which give a warm Mediterranean feel too your garden, of course this all depends on personal taste and the style of the surrounding area.

Good luck with your rockery, I hope you find it a fun to build a I did mine. Remember Measure twice, cut once.

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Johan nickson is a avid gardener and writes for

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