This is a big project friends. Really big and we started about 1 month before I gave birth. But the thing is, we couldn't start it any sooner. It was just too cold and the ground was not very workable. That being said, I knew that if we didn't get it done before the baby came it was highly unlikely that it would happen at all. We started as soon as we could.
It is much safer to lift before baby comes than during recovery. Which kinda made me crazy because I really wanted to do more. On the other hand I was and am so grateful for my children's help. Per my husband's and children's direction I refrained from any heavy lifting. I barely lifted any thing at all. I just sat there on my butt with my very huge belly directing my children which rocks to bring me so that I could get them into place.
Do you need a laugh? Who doesn't need a laugh? Here is a few pictures of me taken after coming in from working on the rocks. We laughed so hard because I look so huge and funny in the coveralls and coat. The wild hair adds a special touch don't you think? Feel free to laugh all you want. These were taken less than 2 weeks before our 10lb baby boy made his debut.
The majority of the rocks we used were found in the pastures around our house. We drove through the pastures and found a promising spot to stop then my children would run around gathering rocks and loading them into the back of my excursion. This took multiple trips all around the property. My kids actually find this to be very enjoyable. They get to explore and they are always pleased to find interesting rocks.
Several Tips For Finding Rocks
One particular rock finding adventure we decided to pack a picnic to eat on a cool giant rock the older kids found. We would eat our picnic then start our rock hunt. It is at this picnic that the adventure begins. Before we go into installing the raised garden bed rock border let me tell you the story.
While we were enjoying our picnic our dog found a porcupine. Why do dogs always, always seem to find porcupines? I think they are a beacon for porcupines.
Besides the quills you can see in the picture, she also had some inside her mouth. We got a few out right there on the rock but she was getting quite upset and we ended up removing the rest once we got home.
So rocks! That is what we were out here in the pasture for right. So on we went with our rock hunt. A little delayed but on the hunt. It was all going very well and we were having much success. Lots of rocks and most of them were on the larger side.
We like the larger ones because that means that they are less likely to be dislodged from their place in the border of the raised garden bed and you don't need as many if they are bigger! It can be satisfying fitting the smaller rocks together like puzzle pieces to get the height you need but really the bigger rocks are where it is at and you still will utilize your puzzle skills.
Then we, uh hmm, my kids, found some REALLY big ones, like several hundred pounds. No joke. There was almost no way they were going to be able to lift them into the back of the Excursion by themself and there was no way my pregnant self was going to be able to help them. My kids used their little noggins' and figured that they could roll the rocks down the hill onto a rock that happened to jut out from the side of the hill. From here the plan was to roll the rock into the back of the Excursion. Amazingly the height of the rock was pretty dang close to the same height as the back of my car. They rolled them right in! Not quite that easy but they did a great job!
We made a few more stops. We always try to get the very most out of each rock gathering adventure as we can. Cram in as many rocks as we can fit. We decided we had enough room to make one more stop. As we are driving I try to roll down my window. Hmmm, it won't work. Then my car just shuts off. OK, I try and restart it. Nothing.
We just replaced the starter only a few months before. I wait a few minutes and try to start it again. Nothing. Must be the battery.
Here I am, ready to pop pregnant with my seven kids, several miles from the house and the sun is about to set. Between us and our cozy house is up and down hills for several miles. There is no way that I am going to make it back walking. Surely I will go into labor and have the baby in the dark out there in the pasture with all my kids watching. We do home births but that is a little much. Did I mention there is no phone reception and my husband is out of town? Isn't it getting exciting!
We are safe and warm and have water. We know where we are so it's not like we are scared or in danger.
My two oldest head back to the house to get the four-wheeler to take me and the other kids home.
Here is what the other kids look like while we are waiting for the big kids. Oh, yeah, weird thing, my lights inside the car will not turn off. I checked every door and switch but they would not turn off.
The older kids got back super quick with the four-wheeler. They ran all the way home. Called a neighbor for help and left a message. We all headed back to the house.
At about 8:00 our neighbor got our message and called back. My daughter was out of breath when she called (from running home) so he was extra worried knowing that I was heavily pregnant and my husband was out of town.
This sweet man who gets up at 4:00 in the morning then come home and takes care of all of his cattle, came over, picked me and my son up around 8:30, and took us several miles out into the pasture and jumped my car in the dark. Then jumped it again, and again, and again, and then again. seriously. We had to jump my car 5 or 6 times to get it home.
When he first jumped it I drove a little ways then it died again. We went through the jumping process, drove a little then it died again. What is going on?!?!!
It ended up that my battery was so low that I couldn't drive with my lights or anything else on or my car would die almost immediately. We turned the lights, radio, air, everything off and used a flashlight that my son shined out the window so that I could see where I was going while our neighbor followed behind us.
It is hard to see the trail and I do loos it at one point. The car is bumping all over the place bouncing my big ol' belly around, pressing the baby onto my bladder. My son and I are laughing at my attempts to see and stay on the path.
Still my car dies several more times, even at the end of our drive. Finally we get it to the garage and hooked up to the battery charger. We ended up having to get a new battery and a new alternator. Fun stuff. Great memories. We will look back and laugh about this for years.
And- yep, that was the last rock adventure for the year but look at all the wonderful rocks we found!
Natural Rock Borders For Raised Garden Beds
If you look closely you can see how I fit the rocks together like puzzle pieces. Take a look at the beginning of the tunnel and the island just to the right of the tunnel. The other thing I find is helpful is to bury a little of the rock into the ground. This strengthens its position and helps it stay upright. If there are ever any little holes I place a small, usually flat rock on the back side of the hole. Sometime you can see it but usually not. However, it is important because it helps keep the soil in the raised bed. Other times I use a long flat piece on top of a rock or several rocks that are a little shorter than I would like. I also layer rocks as seen in the bottom middle of the top picture, to get rocks to work right. Either to add height, fill a gap, or accomplish the right angle. Really it is just trial and error to get the right fit and look.
I didn't get the best pictures (see below) but we also made it a good way around the sides of the garden. Eventually we will get the rocks all the way around the garden and all islands.
The rocks used in the three islands used in the last pictures are from the foundation of an old chicken coop my husband and kids helped a neighbor tear down. Brother to the same neighbor who rescued our car out in the pasture. The nice thing about them is that they were very angular, heavy and thick. They worked very well.
Like I mentioned in my rock finding tips, last year we found a really cool log out in the pasture that we drug home to use as a border for a raised garden bed. Now, after waiting almost a year we could put it in! This cool old log makes a really cool raised bed edging.
I love the color and texture. It also makes a very comfy bench. It is now one of my fav spots to sit and watch the garden grow.
In the picture on the right you can see the kids working one of the giant rocks they rolled into the back of the Excursion on our last rock adventure. No kidding, these rocks weigh several hundred pounds.
Below, in a picture taken later in the season, you can see what the backside of this island looks like.
We did manage to get more rocks placed later in the summer, after the baby was born. All but one raised garden bed island has a finished border as well as the tunnel but the tunnel is almost finished.
We had the opportunity to get some limestone slabs from an old lumber store that is closing one of their locations. We spaced them out with pasture rocks along the sides of the tunnels. I still have a little to do but it is almost done.
Even though I've used several different kinds of rocks and even our cool log, it has all come together nicely because the pasture rock is throughout the entire garden tying it all together. Don't be afraid to mix it up!
Finishing the raised garden beds with rock really cleaned up the look of the garden and I love it! I am looking forward to getting the rest of the border and the remaining island finished next spring. Then it is on to the other gardens. He he, it never ends! At least I'll be able to do the majority of the work next time around. Woo hoo!
One of my favorite things about using a rock border for raised garden beds is when the plants grow, tumble, over the tops of the rocks and in the crevices. I love the natural look and feel that it gives the garden.
As you can see this was a very heavy rainfall year for us. The paths are what we will be tackling next year. Even with the mud, still so happy with how the raised beds are turning out. This is the third year of this garden and we have come a long way!
What do you think? Is this something you would like to try? What have you used to create your raised garden bed borders?
I hope you found our rock borders to be inspiring and look forward to hearing about what you have used to create raised bed borders.
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Hello, I'm Jaci. I love wandering around in my gardens admiring God's creation. I'm passionate about whole foods and clean eating. I look forward to sharing my farming and homestead adventures and helping you reach your gardening goals! If you have any questions then don't be shy, I'd love to hear from you. Send me a message and I will be glad to help!