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Spring in the garden

Sep 4

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Monday, September 4, 2017  RssIcon

Spring in the garden:

We seem to be alternating between very cold, wet conditions and the occasional sunny warm day. Hopefully the latter will win out before too long. The excessive rainfall has certainly lead to a record number of slips around Wellington, and the need for remedial work. That usually comes in the form of walls or fixing materials to the bank, so I thought I wold discuss retaining first and then discuss some plants that look good now to cheer us up.

As with building decks, if you are building walls you need to use people who know what they are doing, both in terms of the construction and any consents required. Once your wall is over 1.5m, you need a consent, and it is advisable to use an engineer, especially if there are any loadings behind the wall, eg vehicle traffic. There is nothing worse than seeing a wall that is supposed to be vertical in near horizontal state! It is also a very expensive operation to fix! You can use a variety of materials for walls. Timber is commonly used. The tongue and groove H4 planks (150x50) are very attractive, especially with a timber capping. If your wall is low, say 450mm high, you can use the capping as a seat. This is ideal in a courtyard area.

Other materials include stone or block. Stone walls are the most expensive to build as there is the labour involved in mortaring the stones, and selecting and placing the stones.

Block walls can include plastered blocks for a fine finish, or the Firth blocks, such as the Diamond or Windsor blocks. These Firth blocks are relatively easy to lay, as they can be simply laid on top of each other without any mortaring required. Crib walls come as concrete or timber. Walls can be softened by using plants that trail over the wall, or they can be planted in the crib wall itself.

For large banks that are crumbling, such as you see around town a lot now, you can either use mesh or reinforced sprayed concrete to hold or retain the bank. You will see lots of these being used recently eg mesh used recently on Ngauranga gorge or sprayed concrete on the Mt Victoria tunnel. They need to be engineered and installed by skilled operators. 

If your bank simply wants covering, and is not holding or retaining the bank itself, then you can use ponga logs as an attractive wall. They can be wired together, and the wire tied back into the bank to hold them. As with all walls, the bank should have a batter, or slope backwards. This reduces the chance of the wall falling over.

One of the biggest causes of failure is lack of drainage behind the wall. If water builds up behind the wall, your wall acts as a dam. That’s when vertical walls become horizontal ones!

Plants that are flowering no include Viburnum burkwoodii ( scented) and Clematis paniculata, or puawananga.

Enjoy the sunnier weather ( hopefully)

Regards

Jon

Clematis paniculata

Wooden crib with ponga facing on the bank

 

 

 

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