We have a lot of dry stone dykes here which we really like. They are basically stone walls made without mortar, just careful positioning and gravity holding them together.
However, there are a few bits of wall that need repair. Last year, I did a course which gave me a basic grounding in how to build stone dykes. One freezing and snowy day last winter, Nicole and I put this into practice by putting a gate inbetween two fields. The course hadn’t covered how to do the ends of the walls, but we just copied what we saw elsewhere – basically use big stones.
Nicole has been working hard transforming the gardens around the house. The flower bed to the left is close to the front door and can be seen from the kitchen window. Nicole has reshaped it and cleared the mass of weeds including ground elder. The plan is to plant roses (which are on order and will be arriving soon).
Now, many of the dykes around the house are covered in a mix of brambles and honeysuckle. We are not sure if this is by design or simple invasion, but to us, it is a shame to hide these beautiful walls. So, in a burst of energy over the weekend, Nicole cleared the above pictured wall. Only, underneath, the wall had collapsed and had, so it would seem, been clumsily repaired. It was, basically, a mess.
With the roses coming, it was time to act. Thankfully, we were enjoying a spell of bright, if cold, weather. Perfect conditions for stone dyking.
This wall was tricky, as it turned out, as all the stones were quite large. This meant the normal process of building two walls sloping towards each other was out of the question. So, time for plan B – big stones on the bottom, smaller ones on top.
First, I pulled down all the bits of wall that were leaning and levelled off the base.
That done, I started on the end. I poached a couple of large stones from other parts of the garden. I then had to go and recruit a neighbour to help me lift the big stone onto the end (the one you can see pictured left).
That done, it was a case of building up the rest of the dyke. I think, in reality, more time is spent pondering which stones to put where than actually lifting and placing them them. I suppose that could be one reason why we do jigsaws as kids – preparation for building dry stone dykes!
I should really have stopped and rested, but completion seemed so close so I kept going. My back has still not forgiven me! Nevertheless, I got it finished and we are both very happy with the result.
Now all it needs is the roses and it will look amazing.
But for me, it’s on to the next repair job, the wall that blew down in the storm……