Earthy mortar

I'm about to build a very low stone retaining wall (two stones high) around a raised flower-bed and want to use something to bond the stones together lightly and stop the earth from slowly washing through the gaps. I don't like the idea of plain mortar, much to obvious and eye-catching (until it gets moss etc on it, which could be several years). Strength isn't really a issue. Can I make up a cement-sand-earth mix to tone down its appearance and disguise it, and if so, any suggestions as to the proportions? I guess I'm looking for a sort of cement-bonded earth, if that's practical.
--
Chris

E-mail: christopher[dot]hogg[at]virgin[dot]net
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Don't know about the proportions or indeed if you can mix earth with sand & cement and get a bond. A few years ago I was given an old Belfast type sink for the garden and SWMBO wanted it to look like an old stone type with moss etc growing all over it. After she decided on it's position I roughed up the surface and buttered it with s & c and let it go off. Then (this is the bit you're waing for), I painted it with MILK, I don't think it matters wether full or semi, and the moss grew over it like there was no tomorrow! So it may be worth you're while just using a s & c mix and the getting the cow juice out of the fridge. Last time I saw it, I have now moved house and was visiting my old neighbours, it looked like it had been there for 50 years+.
HTH
John
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Chris Hogg wrote:

Old landscapers trick, spray or brush a liberal quantity of liquid manure/fertilizer over it - the moss will grow like fury!
Dave
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I know that roofers when they want to age a new clay tile roof use chicken droppings and water ... soak tiles with that and moss, algae & lichen grow in record time.
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Yoghurt [the natural 'live' stuff] - mixed with a bit of earth/compost. Slap it on and it'll age within days. Probably better in warmish weather.
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I'd agree with the previous posters - slap some yoghurt or whatever on it. Urine has been suggested too. Soil can have a high organic content, and you can see this by getting some, shaking it in a jar of water and watching how the soil separates out as it settles. I'd at least avoid putting the organic fraction in mortar.
Another suggestion.: I notice how nearly everything I have at ground level eventually takes on something of the colour of the local ( clay ) soil, so why don't you make up your mortar the normal way, use it to build your structure, and then when it has gone off, simply rub wet soil into it? That'll tone it down right away, and it won't wash off easily.
Andy.
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Chris Hogg wrote:

You can do that... what are the stones? What sort of earth have you? I'd go for abouut 1:10 cement:earth as a guess. If you are not in a great hurry, mix up some samples (say 1:8, 1:10, 1:12), let them go off for four or five days under a plastic sack on the ground, and see what you get. You're right, strength won't be an an issue for something like this, it's just to locate the stones - do you want plants to grow in the wall after a while? You could try u.r.g.
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Mix in some emulsion paint to give the colour you want. It won't be permanent but will last long enough for nature to take its course. And wipe some yoghurt etc over the joints to encourage moss growth.
--
*The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging!

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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Chris Hogg wrote:

Reminds me of watching a neighbour the other day. They have an old brick boundary wall about 6' high which is in really poor condition; it would worry me if it was mine. Anyway, last week I noticed the Lady Of The House out there fiddling with bricks in said wall, she seemed to be repairing it which I was a bit surprised at, but no bad thing.
Anyway, on closer inspection, I noticed that what she was actually doing was removing loose half-bricks near the base of the wall, packing the resulting space with earth, and then planting flowers in there. I'm sure it will all look very pretty until it all falls down!
David
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But she was only removing loose ones near the ground so that could hardly be dangerous. Obviously she wouldn't think of disturbing any near the top of the wall - that could cause problems...
[no smiley - any bets on that being pretty close to her thought processes?]
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John Cartmell john@ followed by finnybank.com 0845 006 8822
Qercus magazine FAX +44 (0)8700-519-527 www.finnybank.com
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It has been done. Mostly to stabilise clayey soils, although quicklime seems to be about as effective in this (I get involved in all sorts of wacky projects). The normal approach seems to be to include peat and vermiculite which will moss up fairly readily. The peat provides nutrient, the vermiculite (expanded mica) retains water. Both should be available at a decent garden centre.
http://faq.gardenweb.com/faq/lists/hypertufa/2003030744004525.html
contains a suitable set of "recipes". You can also google for hypertufa. I like the #2 and #3 mixes for your application.
John Schmitt
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Using Opera's revolutionary e-mail client: http://www.opera.com/mail /

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Many thanks to everyone for your helpful suggestions. Time for a few experiments......
--
Chris

E-mail: christopher[dot]hogg[at]virgin[dot]net
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Chris Hogg wrote:

yes, best to use mostly lime and little cement and lots of sand.
I've not done it intentionally, but it has happened in the course of laying stones and slabs and it sort of hangs together, is fairly porous, and with the lime, not so rock hard it cracks.
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You don't need any mortar - the gaps will fill with earth and stabilise.
cheers
Jacob
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