Thursday, May 27, 2010

Flashback: How to move a 400-pound limestone rock

The landscaping around our house has been one of the largest ongoing projects for the past two years (considering when we moved in, there was no lawn to speak of -- only dirt and weeds). After installing our own sprinkler system and sod the first summer, we took a pretty long break from doing anything else. I needed awhile to erase the traumatic memories from my mind before I took on another lawn project.

Then last spring (2009), we finally made some more progress. We knew the general area that we wanted to lay out for a landscaping bed, but weren't sure what to use for the border. We checked out all the home improvement stores for pricing on edgers and retaining walls, but it would have cost a lot more than we wanted to spend. Around that time, Luke found out about an old limestone barn that had been torn down in his uncle's field. It was the perfect solution. And if you know us, you know we never turn down the opportunity to get something for free. Even if it means hours of back-breaking labor.

So we borrowed a big trailer and picked a weekend in February to drive a couple hours out to this field. It was cold and windy, but the weeds weren't overgrown like they would have been in the summer. The area where the barn had been could best be described as a limestone graveyard. There were literally hundreds of huge rocks and fence posts lining the ground. (Sorry, this was pre-blog, so I wasn't taking pictures of everything!)

Luke's brother-in-law helped us out by bringing along his "lawn tractor on steroids" to help load the rocks onto the trailer. Otherwise, I don't know how we would have managed to transport these massive 3- and 4-foot long stones.

Relatively speaking, it ended up going quite smoothly, and by the end of the day, we had about 130 linear feet of stone. It looked like this once we got back home and unloaded it all onto our driveway.

We could make our very own Stonehenge!

We also picked up some smaller rocks for "accents"...

Plus this ginormous, tetris-shaped piece that we still haven't found a place for. But Luke just had to have it.

Since the weather was still cold and we didn't quite have all the ground prepared where we wanted the limestone, it stayed right there on our driveway for a couple of months. When we were finally ready to move it, Luke decided to invest in a heavy-duty dolly from Home Depot. It claimed to have an 800-pound weight capacity, which we put to the test with several of the rocks. And let me tell you, this thing was a life-saver. The smartest $60 we've ever spent. That's not to say it didn't take any grunt work to lift the rocks up to get the dolly under them, and then roll them across the grass. But I don't even want to think about how we would have moved them otherwise.

Before just plopping them on the ground, we prepped the area by outlining each rock's position with a sharpshooter, rolling the rock out of the way, digging out a few inches of dirt, and then filling in the hole with pea gravel (to help prevent the limestone from sinking over time). Then we just rolled it into place. I'm probably making it sound easy, but those suckers were HEAVY and once they were in place, we didn't want to have to move them again.

Look at Luke, moving this big ol' limestone rock with ease!

Luke found the perfect L-shaped piece for the corner where our sidewalk and driveway meet.

It was almost like a puzzle trying to figure out which rocks to line up next to each other, and sometimes we'd have to try a few different ones to get a better fit, because we wanted them butted up next to each other nicely. But surprisingly, it all came together almost perfectly with the selection we had brought back. Once we got into a rhythm, it only took us a weekend to get the border finished for the north and east side of the house.

And the result?

A beefed up landscaping border that ain't goin' nowhere! We were really pleased with how it turned out, and we also got a lot of compliments from neighbors and people who were just driving by and had seen us working on it.

So even though it was a lot of hard work, this was one project that was definitely worth it. Luke did some research and found out that just ONE 5-foot limestone fence post can cost $100, so we saved ourselves potentially a couple thousand dollars.

We also put a limestone border on the west side of our house, but that didn't happen until just a couple of months ago. Luke had to make a return trip to the limestone graveyard in search of some straighter posts for that side. Why? Because we're currently laying a sidewalk there, so stay tuned for more on that soon!

Until next time, happy memorial weekend! We'll be visiting family for a couple of days, then hopefully finishing up a few projects around the house. How about you?


Carrie @ Two Poms and a House said...

Wow! I'm impressed! It looks great and you saved a ton of money! Good for you!!

Megan said...

We bought a bunch of foundation stones similar to what you got for free. We still came out ahead on the money part but we have yet to do anything with them! Thanks for the inspiration. I wish we could use a dolly for some (and we may try) but some of ours are HUGE!!! Some day I'll post pictures.

Sara @ Russet Street Reno said...

Wonderful...that was a very cool way to get a great deal! Now it's time to get really friendly with your edge trimmer...that is the only bad thing about a raised border. Shaun spends lots of quality time with our weed wacker for all the grass along our flagstone walls. UGH

Amanda @ Little House on the Corner said...

Yes, Luke does most of the yardwork, so he's used to all the trimming by now! :)

McCarthy Designs said...

Great work! I can only imagine the amount of work it took to get the border in place! It looks fantastic! xx

marleah said...

That looks great! I totally hear you on the free stuff - we used broken up concrete around the front of our porch for landscaping. And I love the Tetris piece!!

Anonymous said...

That makes me tired! But it really looks great. I love natural edging like that. Good job! And have a great weekend!

Cindy @The Flipping Couple said...

Wow, looks great!! We have some boulder-moving (potentially) on our schedule this weekend, so wish us luck!!

Kim @ NewlyWoodwards said...

I really like those stones, they look amazing. I try to avoid any yard projects that require heavy lifting. ;) I like plants, but I hate lugging things around. Needless to say, I don't think I would have thrived at this project. But, it looks awesome.

(And, your yard is so pretty. Such green grass!)

Sarah @ Hennessey House said...

wow, i love the look of the limestone border!! and your lawn is so GREEN! i'm envious :)

(also, i answered your question regarding missouri wineries in an insanely long comment on my post, i thought i would spare your comment section my long-windedness)

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog said...

Woah! I'm super impressed by your thrifty diy skills! Plus, it looks great :).

Rodney said...

This reminds me of our DIY project back in Lincoln. Roofing company that we contacted helped us in redecorating our old roof. My wife and I were very satisfied on how it turned out as the materials they've used were shingles. I hope this house roof design would last a really long time.


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