Thursday, October 10, 2013

Project: Raised Flower Bed

Almost immediately after it became apparent that I couldn't keep my flower beds in front of the house (See Project: Water-wise Landscaping), I decided that I wanted a new flowerbed, in the front corner of our yard. Many of the homes on our block had taken a similar approach to their flowerbeds, moving them from the foundation out toward the street. It was easy to get Gilles on board with the idea of moving it, especially as we were redoing the lawn. What wasn't quite as easy to convince was my web-inspired "Oh, and I want it raised 2 feet".

At this point in time I had seen many pictures online of beautiful, raised flowerbeds that showcased the flowers in an obvious but sophisticated manner. I was thrilled at the idea that one of these beauties could be mine.


Upon realizing the scope of my project, my husband informed me that we would have to wait until spring to complete it. I was disappointed, but no matter. I was going to get my flower bed.
The delay to spring lasted about a week. My father-in-law decided that it would make more sense to build the flower bed immediately, instead of waiting. As he was essentially the 'project landscape' foreman, we could hardly argue. Inside I was singing.

I started by measuring out the approximate dimensions, and deciding what kind of brick we wanted. We ended up going with EasyStack by Cindercrete, in grey. I then went to the closest local distributor to figure out how much I needed. Note: When we did this, the distributor quoted us for 4 full rounds plus the capstones. As the yard is slanted, in order to put four full rounds and have a level top, we would have to bury the first three rounds in the ground. Instead, we staggered the lower layers in a manner that looks as though they are going under the ground, but didn't force us to 'bury our money'.
Here is the first load of bricks that we brought home, of four:
Once we managed to finish bringing home all the brick, we started playing with it to see how the end product would work. (I admit, I wasn't actually here for this step. I was in Regina running the Queen City Half Marathon. Before I left I showed Gilles and his dad the shape I wanted the bed to take, and they were just finishing this step when I arrived home. 
It may not look like much yet at this point, but for me it was the first time that I could truly see what it would look like finished.
I wasn't a lot of help after this point - I mostly just brought brick and supplies while Gilles and his dad did the rest of the work. They did a great job. It isn't visible in this picture, but not only did they size the brick so that it would work out perfectly, they also included a pipe underneath the flowerbed so that in the future I could get sprinklers added in.

The gentleman who sold me the brick at the distributor told us that we would not have to cut any brick. Unfortunately this didn't end up being the case; we needed to cut one brick per layer to make the pattern fit properly. Luckily this didn't cause us any problems.

The only place we used adhesive on the lower layers was on the cornerstones - the rest of the bricks had little nubs that fit into grooves on the next layer, allowing easy stacking and more importantly, ease of removal if ever necessary. Every brick was carefully leveled as well.  We did use a thin layer of adhesive on the top layer, deciding that it was worth not having the bricks moving. The only drawback of this is that if we do end up needing to dismantle a portion of the flower bed for any reason, the bricks with adhesive on them may have to be replaced.

The completed flower bed is a beautiful sight, isn't it? The pile of dirt behind us is of 9 cubic yards - we used it between the houses to increase the ground height and add a "trough" and slope to promote watershed. Oh, and we also filled the flower bed with it :)

What do you think? Is there anything you would have done differently? Have you made similar projects? I'd love to hear your thoughts.