Landscape Design forum: Help with 100% natural and local landscape design. Please!!

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May 20, 2017 2:29 PM CST
A customer, and good family friend(grrrrr...) has contracted my services to do some landscaping in her yard using only natural LOCALLY sourced Creek rock and field stone.
Last year I laid a river rock walkway from the driveway to the house. I used river rock and field stone sourced from her property. She pays accordingly. But now she wants me to do the same for a couple drainage ditches. It's no BIG problem, but she will not allow the use of cement to hold the stone in place. Rolling my eyes. Grumbling
I do not need the work, so much as I want this woman to be happy in her retirement home. This maybe a silly question, but would Kentucky red clay be a suitable anchor material for these ditch walls? It's what I used in the walkway, but the ditch walls are angled steeply....
As a testimate to her will of only using natural and local material, the home she lives in was all built from logs cut on the property, and rock from the river. The garden is huge, but she only uses natural fertilizer from the rabbits and cows....
If anyone has any ideas I would use appreciate the help....
[Last edited by KyBlue - May 20, 2017 2:30 PM (+)]
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North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
May 28, 2017 12:42 AM CST
@KyBlue - Welcome!

I see that no one has responded to your plea for help and that's rather unusual. Not that I know anything about red clay - I just read this and saw that you're a new member and at least needed a 'welcome'.

I truly admire this woman's use of natural and locally sourced material. Probably not many of us can say we live in a house built from logs cut on our property, and rock from the river. I also admire your desire for this woman to be happy in her retirement home.

I surfed the web a little to see what I could learn about red clay. I found that it is used in pottery, has medicinal properties, and can be amended in order to garden. Not very helpful, eh? I'm going to try a more specific search but in the meantime here's a link to one of the more useful articles I found. It might not be anything you don't already know but maybe it might prompt someone else to have a flash of inspiration.

However, quoting from the article. the author says 'Buildings that are constructed on clay may suffer structural damage caused by seasonal swelling of clay. On the positive side, the oxides in clay, including red clay, also act like glue, holding soil particles together, and are useful for lining ponds and water basins.' Somehow this seems like a contradiction, but this is all totally new to me.

If you don't get another reply from me then you'll know that I got nothing. But I sure would love to see some pictures of the property. I'm kind of fascinated. Also, since I'm going to put in some type of path in the future, I'd love to see what the path you already made for her looks like.
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
Jun 23, 2017 2:09 PM CST
If you use large enough rocks, once set they will go nowhere and the crack will fill in or stay filled over time.
How often and how much water do the drainage ditches carry?

I have made retaining walls , nothing but gravity holding them in place, out of rock and as I said, rock size, and shape, is most important.

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