Friday, June 24, 2011

Stepping Stones Made From Soil

I think I have the right idea but it didn't come out too well. First sculpt a mold in the hardened soil where the mix will be dumped. I figured a two inch depth would give it some good stability.

Why not ad some reinforcement? Chances are this idea may fail without the right strength mud mix so why not use up all that chicken wire I have downstairs?

My attempt at looking to alter the final mix color didn't fare too well here. I thought I'd try some ash from the fireplace. It toned down the clay color a tad, but you can see... Lowes actually sells a powdered product made by Quikcrete that would cost about a dollar I (guess) for each block or stone. On to more thinking, I recall Adobe brick is sometimes made with dung (animal poop) so why not pay a visit to the farm for a load? I'm thinking it would be economical and may work to get a darker slate like charcoal color. Cost would probably come down to 12 cents per block or stone.

Not much luck in trying to achieve a slate like textured surface so I settled for using crumpled aluminum foil. Going to have to work on this idea. Realistically I did not spend much time on this aspect.

Looks kind of tacky eh? No contrast with the surrounding soil. 4 parts clay soil, one sand, one ash, 1 1/2 cement.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New Project - Making Bricks

A TV program last night detailing how the great Wall of China was built got me to thinking. I have oodles of dirt around here and a shortage of rocks except for what's in the creek but they're too large and irregular. Sure would be nice if I could lift some of those out as they could create some nice scenery.

In any event, on to making bricks and blocks after creating a mold from a 2 x 4. The secret is getting the right mix. The first test is using one shovel full of sand, six dirt and one 1/2 shovel of cement. As you can see one has already cracked (I did try to move them because of rain) and it is not bonding at all. Perhaps take it up to 20% cement? I can think of all sorts of ideas with this method including finishing off a walkway area below. Simply dig out some molds in the dirt, fill, and replicate a stone look. Maybe saran wrap would work providing a texture?

Not crazy about the clay color though. Going to have to find a way to tone the color more to a grayish natural stone much like the walkways around here. There must be some natural element around here to get the desired look. Ground up wood bark, leaves? Trying not to spend money on this project except for the cement.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Better Sights This Year - Blooms

I've captured most of them; the highlights of each plant growing around the property. Let's go through the collection. You've seen this one before but it always captures attention each May. Dianthus. These are basically annuals that survive near the warmth of the house.

Japanese Viburnum or snowball- April 18. Three are scattered from last Mays planting. Only one bloomed this year. Currently about four feet in height. Expected 8 foot by 8 foot at maturity.

Pansies along the north side of driveway. April 25.


Tulips in barrels April 11. Not sure if this one has been shown before...

Knockout Roses along drive May 9...

Azaleas above wall with Creeping Jenny..June 5

The lone Astilbe in with some Caladiums that have about three more weeks to reach full height. Too bad the Astibes will be gone by then...

Day Lilies. First one came out quite dark. Planted last spring, first time bloomer...

Others, some loaded with buds and finally the Calla Lilies...

Hopefully Hosta pics soon once the Caladiums are out in full force