Even though we had lived in the house for a couple of years, I hadn't done anything to improve the yard. As my wife turned and walked away, I searched for excuses. "You know, if I work on the front yard, I'll have to put in a parking court, and it's going to cost us some money." She replied, "Well, put in a parking court."
Time To Work
Because we had been in the house for a while, I already knew what I wanted to do. Our long, narrow driveway offered nowhere to turn around or park additional cars. Installing a parking area in this limited space would be a challenge.
Using marking paint and flags, I laid out the dimensions of the parking court between the house and two large white oak trees. Ideally, the area needed to be 25 feet wide to accommodate two vehicles. To save the two mature trees and stay away from their roots, I had to reduce the parking area to 22 feet in width. The downsized space is a little tight for two cars, but it was worth saving the large trees.
Next, we hired a contractor to help with excavation. He scooped all the soil out of the area and leveled the site. I rented a jackhammer to break up the sidewalk.
Up Go the Walls
We ordered stone and had it dumped into the middle of the excavated parking area. I started building the walls around the perimeter of the parking court and worked my way to the front steps.
Stacking stone is like putting together a puzzle. You set the stones one at a time, tilting them slightly back toward the bank. Each rock must fit in the right space. The biggest stones are on the bottom row of the wall to create a strong and stable foundation. As the walls went up, they were backfilled with soil. No mortar holds the rocks in place. I wanted them to look like old-fashioned dry-stacked walls. This gave me the opportunity to tuck little plants such as ajugas, strawberry begonias, violas, or ebony spleenwort ferns in between the rocks' crevices.