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Permaculture rocks - no, I mean actual rocks  RSS feed

 
steward
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I have always loved rocks, I used to have rock gardens that looked much like your water color.  Some places they take hog wire or field fence, make a circle out of it about two feet wide then fill the wire with rocks.  These pillars are sometimes placed on either side of a driveway or maybe a corner post for a fence.

These links give you that basic idea for building walls, not exactly what I am talking about but the general idea.

Gabion Wall


Rock Box/Cage


 
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oh my goodness Anne I can feel another project coming on....
 
master pollinator
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Pretty spiffy!

 
steward
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Ooooooo, I like those! What a great idea. Yes, definitely another project for the future . . .
 
pollinator
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Karen Layne wrote:Don't mean to hijack but there are "rock hounds" among us.
I found this rock in the gravel road in front of the house. The gravel source, I believe, is in Blue Ridge, VA.
I took a couple of pics. It's an inch by inch and a half, baby blue, vitreous, translucent, obsidian like. Any ideas?



Looks like a piece of glass slag. I have several large chunks (like 6" to 10" diameter) of amethyst-colored slag intermixed with the rocks edging all my paths and trails. (We have a lot of rocks, so that is how I use some of them.) The glass catches the light and makes the paths more interesting!
 
gardener
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Thanks Deb. Someone else said glass slag too. Do you think that could have gotten in road gravel? And I've heard it could be fluorite too. Hey, that amethyst sure sounds pretty.
 
pollinator
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I built 8 small gabion check dams in the ditch that divides the neighbour's property and ours.  I wanted to slow down the water before it hits the main ditch.  This is because with the spring melting snow the water was eroding the corner of our property.   I will have access to water or very moist soil along the ditch for water loving plants of my choice. (Right now it is just weeds)

Where we have the gabion check dams, the rocks are place in a curve higher on both sides than the flowing waters instead of a flat dam.  This will reduce the risk of erosion when there is high flow.  

We have not finished the process as we want to line the ditch with more rocks.  First we have to find and dig out the rocks from other locations on our property.  For normal rainfalls & spring melt water we should not have any real erosion.  This will give me time to find more rocks since we have stopped the erosion for now.

This video inspired me to build curved gabion dams plus a Geoff Lawton video about gabions (I could not find it again to link to)

Reversing Desertification With Sticks, Rocks, and Ancient Wisdom

Although my ditch is small, the same principals apply on a much larger scale for those who have erosion issues along a creek or run off.
 
Michelle Bisson
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In this same ditch, I layed some flat rocks so that I could use the ditch as a pathway and not get my shoes wet when there is a bit of moisture.
 
Tracy Wandling
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I love the look of your check dams Michelle. Excellent use for big ol' rocks, and it's attractive, too.
 
gardener
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Did using rocks to fill gabions get added to this list yet?

Gabions are rocks in a wire cage, they can be used to stop erosion in gullies, divert or slow water flow, bounce sound and or light, make the lower half, or all of a wall (the top half plastered strawbale or cob, above the water flow portion of the wall)

Gabions are even used as fence posts and decorative plinths in my region...
 
Mother Tree
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I'm going to just unload a bunch of photos here and let them speak for themselves.  I might gather them all together to make a Portugal Rocks thread some day, but I'm a bit rushed off my feet atm.

Enjoy!





































 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Burra,
Those pictures are just incredible! Thanks for sharing.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Stunning, Burra! I love these photos.
 
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I have plenty of rocks on my property.

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Jon Snow
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Another use for rocks is you can pee behind them so no one sees you.
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Michelle Bisson
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Our latest rock project was this solid staircase to the bottom of our ditch in front of property. The staircase is about 6 feet down.

I emptied the ditch (which stores about 20 to 30 gallons) using 5 gallon pails in order to water our plants.


See my thread: Go Permaculture Food Forest - our suburban permaculture journey

 
pollinator
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We also have a lot of rocks, mostly roundish, which I don't know what to do with.  This thread and all the beautiful photos have been really inspiring... BUT...
We trim our grass with a slasher (Long, sharp metal swing blade.)  Can't figure out how we would trim around all the rocks and keep things looking neat and tidy.  Another but... it gets really hot here during the dry season... am afraid if I use the rocks to ring garden beds or trees, or as mulch, I might be creating a little oven.  Maybe there is something I am not understanding about the thermo dynamics of rock-mulching... ?
 
pollinator
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Maureen Atsali wrote:... BUT...
We trim our grass with a slasher (Long, sharp metal swing blade.)  Can't figure out how we would trim around all the rocks and keep things looking neat and tidy.

 
One solution I found was to make a path of fist size stones along the bottom and tamp them down into the dirt to make a cobblestone edge. Weeds in that can be pulled or doused with vinegar and you can then cut up to the path with your slasher.  

Maureen Atsali wrote:  Another but... it gets really hot here during the dry season... am afraid if I use the rocks to ring garden beds or trees, or as mulch, I might be creating a little oven.  Maybe there is something I am not understanding about the thermodynamics of rock-mulching... ?



Yes the plan of your rock placement needs to take into consideration whether in your climate you want to store heat or coolth. For example the rock retaining wall I posted above faces slightly south of east so that it gets sun only in the early part of the day but not the scorching evening sun during July and August.
A wall that faces south west might be used to create a sitting area for after dark where the radiant heat would make it comfortable.
 
Maureen Atsali
pollinator
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Thanks Hans,
I like the cobblestone idea, I think its workable.  We would be able to swing the blade close enough to the rocks to keep things looking nice, without hitting the rocks with the blade.  I love the look of rock borders, I think it will beautify the property.

As for mulching with rocks... I don't think that's going to work here.  The sun is just too intense.

I have been studying the picture above of the rock staircase.  I have a...I don't know what to call it, the technical landscaping term... ravine? gully?  I just call it the "toilet bowl", where-by a smallish spring (its small now, maybe in generations past it was huge?) sits in the bottom of a large, eroded out L shaped "bowl".  The sides are steep, the drop is about 20 feet, and I have a very hard time getting in and out of it.  During the wet season I often end up slipping in the clay muck and sliding down on my rear!  I have often thought of building a staircase... but building stuff isn't my forte.  Trying to figure out if my round rocks can be used to make a stair like the one which was pictured above?  Although there are some huge boulders, most of my rocks seem to be about the size of a soccer ball or smaller.  And the rocky part of the farm is on the opposite end of our long rectangular shaped farm from the toilet bowl... and I have to move everything by hand.  
 
master pollinator
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I love rocks too and this being Maine, we have our share.

I am not sure how many rockwalls I have built, many of them and some I have even built, needed to add something and moved them. I probably have done a 1/2 mile or so of rock walls; that being about 3ft by 3 ft by 3 feet tall.

My farm has an abundance of slate so when I did our foyer, I laid it with slate, and even used gravel from our gravel pit to make the concrete around the slate. With radiant heat underneath, it not only feels good on bare feet, it helps dry gloves laid directly on the rock, and is the preferred spot for the family cat. This is not a good picture of it because it just shows a bit of the foyer, but you can see that it is a natural stone and fits our timber frame home well. (I think, you can be the judge).



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master steward
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Oh my goodness, Travis. You're kitchen is AMAZING.

Another use for rocks that I didn't see mentioned here is putting them around the base of trees to protect the roots from getting scratched up by chickens. I read about it on Erica Strauss's blog http://www.nwedible.com/stop-chickens-from-scratching-trees-shrubs/. Since then, I've been putting them around my fruit trees, and especially my strawberries to protect them from our chicken. (Chicken LOVES to scratch in the mulch under my trees, which is great for removing pests and weed seeds, but not so great for my strawberries!)

I don't currently have any pictures of my trees, but here's one of Erica's



I'm also planning on planting a fig tree where the previous owner apparently dumped some gravel. I read that fig trees have some pretty long-reaching horizontal roots (which I don't want invading my driveway or my wellhouse), and that the figs fruit better with their roots confined. So, I'm going to dig a BIG hole and encircle the place where the fig will go with two rings of big ol' slabs of "urbanite", which will be buried leaving only 1-2 inches about the soil. I'm hoping this will both confine the roots, as well as hold heat to help the fig ripen sooner and be protected better in the winter.
 
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Rocks rock!!  Love all the pictures!  I've been a big fan of rocks all my life and it seems a few have always managed to find their way into my pockets, bags, pick-up truck, RV, etc. no matter where I've traveled.  

We have lots of rocks on our little homestead here in AK and if we ever run out, the property next door is an abandoned gravel pit.  I also routinely get my "Cowboy" to pull over and rescue any stray rocks that are crying out for a new home as we pass by.  

After perusing this post, I had to jump in and share last summer's "Rock Wall" project with all of you.  We were putting in a new wood stove and I had this "flash of brilliance" to add lots of rocks to act as a kind of heat sync.  With Spring trying to put in an appearance (it's still between 20 and 40 degrees here in mid-April, but the snow's slowly melting), I can happily say the new woodstove with the rock surround worked great.  We still need to resolve some insulation problems, but we stayed warm and our woodpile will get us through to the end of this month (though I must confess we slipped away during the worst month of winter weather from mid-Feb to mid-Mar where it hit -40 a few times we were told.  

Anyway here's the link to my building video:  
 

Enjoy!
 
pollinator
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Hans asked me to post one of the pictures from my farm blog, so here it goes........

I dig up lots of rocks while making garden spots, widening a driveway, or other things. To date, I've used all those rocks and eagerly would like more. Yeah, I'm a bit crazy. 😀 Right now I'm extending a low wall that outlined my Secret Garden area, making a wall going along side the main driveway to the house.
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master steward
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I know this is perhaps a bit OT, and this kind of paint isn't the most eco thing, but I thought these mandala stones were quite beautiful.



I like the white on gray stones. This was posted on a webpage, http://www.goodshomedesign.com/mandala-stone-tutorial/, that had VERY colorful mandala stone examples, that were a bit, well, garish to me. I prefer a more natural look.

Speaking of, I wonder if etching the stone would be more eco. I think and etched stone(s) would be lovely to have in the garden. Especially if the etching was deep enough for a good texture on the rock.



 
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Laura Johnson wrote:I keep digging up small rocks in the garden. Put them to good use on the outside uprights of my recycled greenhouse. Also adds some thermo mass.



What is holding them to the building? I've been giving a lot of thought recently to how to turn the rocks into the walls of raised beds. Has anyone else build raised beds using rocks and mortar or maybe even rocks and native clay?
 
Gail Gardner
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Maureen Atsali wrote: This thread and all the beautiful photos have been really inspiring... BUT...We trim our grass with a slasher (Long, sharp metal swing blade.)  Can't figure out how we would trim around all the rocks and keep things looking neat and tidy.  



One word: goats. When I had a place with outcroppings of big rocks, we got a pair of pygmy goats. They loved to bounce around on them and ate what grew between and near them. They lived in a pen made of chain-link gates wired together. We'd let them out while we were outside and they'd come back in for feed.
 
master pollinator
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Our house was built ariund a rock, as are many houses here. We are at the top of 3 river canyons and are surrounded by huge boulders. The builders have been chipping away at the one in the corner of our to-be kitchen.  The last pick is of a lovely big stick insect I came across when clearing brambles from the stone walls surrounding our property.
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garden master
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Gail Gardner wrote:
What is holding them to the building? I've been giving a lot of thought recently to how to turn the rocks into the walls of raised beds. Has anyone else build raised beds using rocks and mortar or maybe even rocks and native clay?



I was able to enlarge her photo by clicking on it twice. It appears that she mortared them onto the side of her building, maybe with cement?
 
pollinator
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There are no real rocks here. But there are bricks, pavers, tiles. They can be useful in the same way.
Here are some photos of how I used them.

Sort of Hugelkultur beds supported by my 'rocks'.

Rhubarb in one of those Hugel-beds.

A rim of 'rocks' along my 'warm plant corner' (the most sunny spot at the wall of my house)
 
pollinator
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I absolutely love this thread. Thanks for finding it again. I too am a bit over the top with my love of rocks. Here are a few ... heheheh
Brian
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pollinator
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Wow! So many great ideas. Thank you!
 
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Wow I love this thread about rocks! So many great ideas.
I'm building a labyrinth from rocks on my property. Only have the center "rose" done so far. It's about 40 feet diameter right now. Should be about 100 feet when completed, which will take years.
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Center rose of the rock labyrinth
 
pollinator
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Here are some of my stone projects.  I gathered most of these from properties in town, with permission of course.  There is an old rock quarry nearby so a lot of the stones have been shaped and came from old house foundations etc.

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Porch foundation
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Gravel pad for hot tub
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Fire pit area (fire pit & furniture is put away for the winter). Ignore the fence post repair project.
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Another shot of the fire pit area
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Raised hugelkultur bed under construction. This is a large half circle with a path in the middle plus a couple of keyholes. I am also building a timber framed arbor for grapes to climb on. Two of the grapes are already in place.
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My rock stash
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Loquat microclimate. Kind of hard to see but behind the loquat are some large rocks standing on end.
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A piece of slate that I am using as garter snake roosting space. They love the slates.
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Zip line post. As my kids got bigger I had to raise up the post so I put it up on some boulders, with more boulders to keep it in place.
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Dead man anchor for the zip line
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Another shot of the hugel bed under construction.
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Garden hose containment - some flat rocks (currently covered with dirt) with some vertical flat rocks to make it a bit easier to coil the hose and keep it contained.
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Compost pile. However it was located where the fire pit was going so I dismantled it. Most of these stones became seats around the edge of the fire pit area.
 
gardener
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Gail Gardner wrote:Has anyone else build raised beds using rocks and mortar or maybe even rocks and native clay?



I built these beds with a visiting German friend who is a land artist and architect but said she hasn't actually done much with mud and stones before. It's the inside of the attached solar greenhouse that heats my house, and the photo was after several frosts, and one week before we put the glazing on the greenhouse for the winter.

I paved a previous greenhouse with flat river stones I'd collected over a couple of dozens walks down along the Indus nearby. I learned that actually flat stones don't sit well and tend to wobble and come out. Much better are stones that are flat on one side but actually you sit them deep into the ground.
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For mortar, we used a clay-sand mix that was leftover from construction.
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These are just set in the existing sandy desert soil of the site.
 
Amanda Launchbury-Rainey
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Beautiful! I love the rounded stones.
 
Amanda Launchbury-Rainey
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All our rocks are granite picked from the fields. All buildings here, apart from new, are built from the stone with huge thick walls. That makes for good insulation, radiant walls but very poor mobile reception!

My larder or pantry should stay at an even temperature with walls several feet thick, also the pigs in the old bodega. The builders have had to dig out the stone floor of the old animal pens on the ground floor to cope with the fact that all the rain from the hamlet runs under the house. I am using some of the stone around the hugel sun scoop to hold up the edges and to absorb the heat of the sun to enable us to grow citrus along the front edge. Then more is being used by Roy and our Workawayer,  Mark, to establish a safer edge to the pond while at the same time allowing habitat for the abundant wildlife in the pond and a shelf for the ducks to rest and for some aquatic plants.  The pond was dug to cover the hugelbed behind in which all the old, rotting wood from the house is buried. The stones are not cemented but partially filled with mud so I can plant bits and bobs in the crevases.  We still have mountains of stone from the house where a dividing wall fell in (about 3 foot thick and running top to bottom, you can imagine) plus more to come out from downstairs. We will be using it to stage drystone walling courses for many years to come!

Quick note on our soil - because of the granite bedrock and endless rain, the dirt is mostly sandy with little substance. I have talked about hugelkulture with locals and they think I'm mad, but on seeing me shredding coppiced branches for chips, our postlady asked me why I was doing it because the Gallegos (locals) always bury their branches - you know mujer- to add carbon! There's  nothing new under the Sun!

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Looking out from downstairs past opening to pantry
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Pantry
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Putting in drains for the village run-off
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Bodega pig pen
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New edge for pond
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New edge for pond
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Hugel sunscoop
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Hugel sunscoop
 
Amanda Launchbury-Rainey
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C.C. Castro wrote:Wow I love this thread about rocks! So many great ideas.
I'm building a labyrinth from rocks on my property. Only have the center "rose" done so far. It's about 40 feet diameter right now. Should be about 100 feet when completed, which will take years.



This is stunning! Please keep us updated on progress!
 
Amanda Launchbury-Rainey
master pollinator
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Location: Galicia, Spain zone 9a
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:I know this is perhaps a bit OT, and this kind of paint isn't the most eco thing, but I thought these mandala stones were quite beautiful.





I think it is fine to use the odd bit of un-eco stuff where the result gladdens the heart and lifts the spirits. What beautiful stones. I would love to have some of these on a shelf - when I have a house with shelves!
 
Burra Maluca
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If you open the box, you will find Heisenberg strangling Shrodenger's cat. And waving this tiny ad:
Rocket mass heaters in greenhouses can be tricky - these plans make them easy: Wet Tolerant Rocket Mass Heater in a Greenhouse Plans
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