A garden dry stone wall is not only aesthetic, but it also serves as a valuable shelter for beneficial insects. Learn about the factors to consider when building a dry stone wall.
Dry stone and natural stone walls have a long history in landscape designing. They were traditionally used to demarcate livestock pastures, for terracing, or to strengthen a slope. They are now, on the other hand, a prominent design tool in gardening.
Did you realize that natural stone walls have a significant ecological impact? The dry stone wall not only becomes a fantastic eye-catcher with the correct vegetation but also provides a suitable habitat for a variety of beneficial insects.
In this post you can learn about
What is a Dry Stone Garden Wall
A dry stone wall is a garden structure that is used to aesthetically delimit, organize and give proper definition to a garden space, as well as to fortify slopes. Because of its visual appeal, natural stone is primarily employed in construction.
As a result, the terms “natural stone wall” and “dry stone wall” are frequently used interchangeably. The difference between a dry stone wall and a traditional garden wall is not in the material but in the way of building.
The stacked stones are not grouted with mortar or otherwise joined in this example. As a result, the open joints of the natural stone wall can be planted with appropriate plants, making the wall a popular design feature in the garden.
Tips for Planting in a Dry Stone Garden Wall
We’ll provide you with five pointers on how to build an excellent dry stone wall in your garden.
Choosing Plants for a Dry Rock Garden Wall
If you wish to plant your dry stone wall, you’ll quickly realize that not all plants are suited for this purpose. In fact, only plant species that are winter-hardy, drought-tolerant, and exceptionally robust are considered. Succulents like Stonecrop (Sedum) and houseleek (Sempervivum) are so ideal for planting against a natural stone wall.
However, not all dry stone walls are created equal: whereas free-standing dry stone walls frequently dry up fast, those in touch with the ground (for example, to buttress a slope) are significantly wetter.
As a result, they are susceptible to being overtaken by the Dalmatian bellflower (Campanula portenschlagiana) or even small fern species. Lilacbush (Aubrieta), Moss phlox (Phlox subulata), and speedwell grow well on sunny walls (Veronica).
You may also grow Mediterranean herbs like rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and thyme (Thymus) here, which benefit from the warmth that the heated stones emit at night. In shady locations, however, choose larkspur (Corydalis), barren strawberries (Waldsteinia), or Kenilworth Ivy (Cymbalaria muralis).
However, height also plays a role in this scenario. Only hardy types, such as mountain stonewort (Alyssum montanum), which can withstand droughts and temperature variations, thrive on the top of the wall. Plants in the base area, on the other hand, must be resistant to treading and flat-growing, like the Horn calcareous moss (Mnium ornum).
Building a Dry Stone Wall
If you wish to plant your dry stone wall, you should keep a few things in mind throughout the building process. Plants should ideally be introduced during the wall’s building, as research has shown that they grow and thrive better in this manner.
This entails inserting some nutrient-deficient soil between the joints and relocating the plants. Nutrient-rich soil or humus, on the other hand, are not appropriate for the dry stone wall because most rock garden plants have modest nutrient requirements.
If you intend to plant your dry stone wall after it has been built, make sure to leave adequate room for the plants when stacking up the stones. It is best to use joints that are about two inches wide.
Procedure for Planting a Dry Rock Wall
Planting a drystone wall is best done between March and September. Moreover, spring is considered especially favorable because the plants are just starting their growing season at that time.
If you want to plant the natural stone wall afterward, you should first fill the dry stone wall joints halfway with a porous and nutrient-poor substrate.
Many plants for a dry stone wall are vulnerable to waterlogging and excessive nutrient concentrations, thus soil that is overly heavy or rich in nutrients is not ideal. Loosely fill the joints with the appropriate substrate, which works especially well using a small shovel or spoon.
You can now begin planting: Stick the plants horizontally, with the root ball as deep into the joint as possible, to ensure a firm grip. Substrate should be used to fill in the gaps. For larger plants, the perennial may need to be divided ahead of time so that it fits easily into the joints. It’s better to use a sharp knife for this.
Care and Maintenance for Dry Stone Wall Plants
The plants must be thoroughly watered once the dry stone wall has been installed. A garden hose with a powerful water jet, on the other hand, is the wrong choice here because the risk of the water washing the soil out of the joints is too large.
Use a watering can or garden sprayer instead to be as mild as possible. The dry stone wall should be irrigated on a regular basis for the first two years so that the plants can establish themselves properly. Furthermore, the dry stone wall normally does not require any further maintenance after that.
In reality, the majority of the plants in the dry stone wall thrive best when left alone. Only during extremely dry periods should watering can be used; otherwise, the natural stone wall requires little upkeep.
Dry stone wall as a Natural Habitat
Even if it is difficult to believe, the natural stone wall serves as a vital habitat for a variety of creatures. Dry stone walls are extremely appealing to insects. Many kinds of wild bees, bumblebees, and wasps, take shelter in open cracks in between the stones.
At the same time, with insect-friendly vegetation, the dry stone wall provides an excellent food supply for them. If you want to help the beneficial insects, even more, you can plant an insect-friendly plant bed beside the dry stone wall. Mixed seeds have the advantage of providing a stable food source throughout the year due to their botanical diversity.
Not only do insects love dry stone walls but burrowing toads, as well as green toads, utilize wider crevices as hiding spots. The dry stone wall is one of the most critical survival habitats for the now-rare sand lizard. Birds can be seen nesting in old natural stone walls with unusually huge gaps.