a good use for gravel

I think I mentioned that I finally got a load of gravel delivered at my little cabin on the edge of the Missouri Ozarks. I’ve been nagging the man I’d contracted with (a year and a half ago) to bring it, but there was always some excuse. But my neighbor mentioned a name and gave me a number. I called the man one Saturday morning (on my way to the cabin actually) to see about him delivering me a load. He said he couldn’t get to it that day but possibly on Monday. After waiting a year and a half, a couple of days was fine with me.

The next weekend when I went down, there was the load of gravel, just what I wanted, just where I wanted. It was a beautiful thing.

I am spreading gravel around the cabin to keep back the scrub incursion. I’m using gardening fabric under the layer of gravel to help keep thing already in the ground from coming up. We’ll see how that works out. I also spread the gravel as a sort of critter barrier. I’m told that burrowing animals like mice don’t like to run across open areas since they’re more visible to predators that way, so if I have gravel all around my cabin, I have less chance of mice moving in or something else burrowing under the slab. (Like skunks.)

The cabin is built on a hillside overlooking the sparkling lake. The back is at ground level, but the front porch rises a couple of feet above the natural grade. Long ago, I built a retaining wall out of garden blocks in front of the cabin and then filled behind it with expensive hardware store dirt. My primary goal was to keep the cabin from sliding down the hill, and while that may sound ridiculous, I also have no gutters on the edge of the roof. Any rainwater that falls on the roof in the front drains directly onto the slope before the slab, slowly eroding it. The retaining wall and the backfill were intended to prevent that erosion.

(A third reason I built that wall with the expensive backfill was to have a sort of flower bed in front of the cabin. We filled it with red impatiens and red salvia and whatever red things we could find in order to attract hummingbirds in season. The deer had other plans for our plants.)

As you can see in the photo above, I had built a second retaining wall closer to the porch and filled it with gravel, and the point of this second, higher bed was to catch and disperse the eroding water that washes off the roof.

This second bed has always been a problem. In part, it works too well. The gravel within it had washed out in some places. Also, the wall itself is resting on bricks, and while that’s okay for the intended purpose, it is not sufficient for the yahoo that steps on the wall to get from here to there. I’ve had blocks fall into the lower bed when someone steps on them. (The gravel behind the block then flows right after it.)

So with the new load of gravel, and a little determination (and some ibuprofen), I rebuilt the upper retaining wall, adding a second level of blocks to it, and then backfilling the space with the new gravel. The photo above shows the fruits of my labors.

And the photo below shows the new gravel bed has worked perfectly.

The brownish line you see there is actually oak pollen that has washed off the roof from recent rains. It identifies clearly the drip line from the roof and how it falls into the gravel, which blunts the force of the falling water to prevent erosion. The blocks still will likely tumble if an adult steps on them, so when you visit, don’t step on them!

Also, the leaves you see along the left side of the lower photo are what remains of our hapless flower bed. There’s a green Mayapple growing there — a volunteer that we’re actually a little proud of. Also, you can see the black gorilla mask on a tree just beyond the cabin.

The weather doesn’t look favorable for a visit this weekend, but going to the cabin is a pretty good cure for quarantine cabin fever, so I’ll watch the forecast.

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2 Comments on “a good use for gravel”

  1. markparis Says:

    Have you considered construction adhesive to hold the blocks together. I haven’t used it on my retaining walls (no none ever walks there) but I hear it adheres one block to another pretty well.

  2. Paul Lamb Says:

    Mark, it’s what they’re resting on that is unstable. Big job to fix that.

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