Double-Sided Wall/Raised Bed

sunnibel7 Md 7(7)February 12, 2010

Hi, all! I'm over here from my usual haunt in the Vegetable Garden Forum because I found the neatest idea (I think) in one of my books, but I can't find any real information on how this thing is constructed. As my subject line says, it is essentially a double-sided stone wall that serves as a raised bed. To quote all the info from my book:

"In Devonshire they build two walls with their stones, setting two edgeways, and then one in between; and so it rises. Fill the interval with earth, continuing the stonework and filling; and as you work, beating the stones flat to the sides. This is absolutely the neatest, most saving, and profitable fencing imaginable, where slaty stones are in any abundance. Upon these banks they plant not only quicksets (cuttings), but even timber trees, which exceedingly thrive, being out of all danger." John Evelyn, 1777 The picture shows a wall constructed of fairly thin, rather square-cut stones 3 high, placed such that each layer is composed of a series of stones laid like the letter I all next to one another, forming small boxes. IIII

I have no idea how high such a structure could be built, nor really any understanding of what keeps it from all popping apart before any roots are established to help retain soil, but I'd really like to learn! Has anybody here heard of or seen a thing like this? Can you direct me to some reading material? I've tried searching the ol' internet, but am coming up empty handed. I've tried searching here with much the same result. Thanks!


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What you are describing is a variation of "Dyke stone walls". Lots of information and pictures if you do a search. Hopefully you will run across the type that is of interest to you.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 6:00PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Aha! That helped a lot! Apparently the search problem lay within the differences of the English language on either side of the Atlantic... They call it "Devon" not "Devonshire" and apparently it is neither a "fence" nor a "wall" but a "hedge". Although I think maybe it is the inclusion of plants that makes it a hedge... and they do this in Cornwall as well. Anyhow I've even found a set of instruction for building one and looked at a number of lovely photos. And now I think I understand how it keeps from popping apart, too. If you're interested, here's a quick link to the instructions which includes a nice diagram.

Thanks so much! That was the breakthrough I needed!


Here is a link that might be useful: Cornish Hedge

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 8:06PM
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Interesting subject, isn't it. The British wall building technique travelled across the Atlantic with early settlers and was common to New England, but very few remnants remain. I once owned acreage on Cape Cod and found the remains of a double dyke wall deep in a swamp tangled in poison sumac. During the Am. Revolution the swamp had been excavated for its iron rich soil which was used to make cannon balls. The dyke walls probably were torn apart at that time.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 12:59PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

It is indeed! I grew up in upstate NY and spent plenty of time walking along the top of stone walls that were probably 200 years old! But I never did come across a double one like that. Still, this also helped me to understand how in an Agatha Christie novel (or was in Ngaio Marsh? British murder mystery anyhow) a car running into a hedge full of wildflowers could total the car and kill the occupants.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 12:37PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I can confirm that these hedges are a typical feature of the far west of the UK and they really are a wonderful sight. They are planted up as a permanent hedge atop a stone wall and are colonised by wild flowers. They shelter roads and pathways and are a wonderful habitat for wild life. They are essentially boundary structures rather than 'raised beds' and would be pretty expensive to recreate in a home garden I should think. The 'quickset' referred to originally meant any type of hedge plants but came to mean hawthorn and or blackthorn later on.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cornish hedges

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 2:17PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Yes, it probably would be expensive, but I was thinking maybe a scaled-down version with smaller plantings like currants or goosberry might make an intersting part of a landscape near a small house. Something 3 feet high rather than 6 feet. And I was truly curious as to what kept them from falling apart! :) I spent extensive time on that hedge site, too. :)


    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 6:58PM
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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

Without knowing about the historic artifact, we sort of re-invented it for our own front border bed. Got very large (dishwasher size) rocks of local granite, lined half up along road edge and the others 8 ft. away, filled in with a mix of topsoil and manure, to make a long raised bed. We call it a berm, and it stopped the water erosion from the road (which is slightly uphill), and gave us some privacy as well as a neighbor-friendly shrub and flower bed 30" high. The house is actually a former rental cottage, so the small scale was important. We planted a variety of shrubs and perennials in it, from shadbush in size through rugosa roses, down to inkberry and ilex crenata and iris and lavender.

Instead of using flat stones and stacking them, we used large glacial boulders so they could be set next to each other, on the ground. It was not expensive to make a wall/raised bed in this way.


    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 9:19AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Sounds lovely, Carol! Any pictures you could share? :)


    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 2:33PM
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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

In bleak midwinter, all you'd see is snow and rock and bare branches. Also, I don't know how to post pix on GW. Could somebody please tell me? Then I'll take some pix in springtime.


    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 3:57PM
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One more addition to this discussion. There is also another type of Dyke wall which was used when rocky fields were being cleared or fitted for planting. Two separate, free standing stone walls were built parallel to each other with a space between and the cobbles/rubble was collected and tossed between the two walls. A very effective, strong wall to mark property lines and contain cattle and sheep. This was the type of wall I found on my Cape Cod property which had been a sheep farm.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 8:51AM
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Sunnibel, just wondering if you're going to 'build' your hedge or even a single wall of stone. I'm wanting to create a version of an English garden, and with a too big backyard, need to break it down with a wall. I'm afraid i'm biting off more than I can chew, with mainly myself and my son doing the work. ;o)

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 9:56PM
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