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  1. #1
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    Rock Garden - Need Advice

    I'm working on a rock garden on my personal trail around my house, which is basically a trail about 3/4 of a mile long with a little bit of everything on it. Its just sort of my track that I can mess around on after work or anytime I don't feel like driving to a trail to ride.

    Anyways I'm working on a rock garden right now and I did no research before I started. I had a lot of rocks of decent size available because there are rock piles on our property where the farmers used to clear their fields of stone. So I picked a spot with a slight incline so I could ride it up and downhill.

    I chopped up the trail where I wanted to put the rocks then I tried to slam the rocks into the ground. Then I threw a couple wheelbarrow loads of dirt over top of the rocks and I'm hoping some rain will make everything settle.

    Is there a better way to get the rocks to settle... so they won't move around when I'm riding over top of them? And also, Can you guys give ideas for lines or something? - right now its just sort of a random mess with like one large hill of rocks type feature in the middle. Do you guys think rock gardens are more fun if you try to leave lines through the dirt you can hit or if you force people over rocks at every chance?

  2. #2
    Don't worry, be happy!
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    I like the kind of rock gardens where your have to thread your way through them... maybe pay attention to pedal up/pedal down, or hit wheel wide slots, or pop up and over the less big ones... like a technical puzzle

  3. #3
    Almost Human
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    Sounds like your rocks are too small?

  4. #4
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    Uncle Trails sounds like he might be onto something.

    Any time I'm creating rock gardens, I like to use rocks that I struggle to move or rocks that take two people to move. They smaller ones should be embedded no less than 2/3 of their mass. The larger ones can be buried half their size or more.

    As far as placement, that's kind of personal, i.e. it depends on what you want out of the feature.

    Good luck!

    D

  5. #5
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    Hmm, you guys may be right. The majority of my rocks were under 15lbs probably. With maybe 6 or 7 in the 50-70lb range. I think I better just go out there and rethink the whole thing and then bury a bunch of rocks

  6. #6
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    Rockwork is just that, work! Rocks are heavy and fitting them together is a pain. A rule of thumb is big heavy rocks should be placed on the outside of the garden or bookend them. If you have smaller ones they can fit better on the inside by being squished by heavier ones.

    You have to fit each rock individually, you can't just dump them, and dump dirt on them.

    If you can acquire crushed rock get a big pile of that. It's pretty cheap, but you need a truck...

    Rough the ground like you did.
    Dump a one inch layer and place the rock how you want it.
    You want them to lay flat and not move so use other big rocks and filling gaps underneath with crushed rock or dirt to make it lay flat. This is the key as you can have a wobbler rock but if you're happy with that side of the rock being the tread this is how you'll get it done.
    Remember the choppier is not always the better, look to try to get sections flat and sporadically make choppy sections. If you're working on a steeper grade you can get away with the rock being a little more choppy because you'll have gravity and momentum.

    This is advice for one man rocks which are pretty big and heavy. Smaller rocks are easier to place but are harder to make a garden that will be firm and not wobble.

    Rock work is hard work if done right. Get some tools to help you.

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2058/...889f9892_o.jpg
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  7. #7
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    Some thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by NoobHill
    I'm working on a rock garden on my personal trail around my house, which is basically a trail about 3/4 of a mile long with a little bit of everything on it. Its just sort of my track that I can mess around on after work or anytime I don't feel like driving to a trail to ride.

    Anyways I'm working on a rock garden right now and I did no research before I started. I had a lot of rocks of decent size available because there are rock piles on our property where the farmers used to clear their fields of stone. So I picked a spot with a slight incline so I could ride it up and downhill.

    I chopped up the trail where I wanted to put the rocks then I tried to slam the rocks into the ground. Then I threw a couple wheelbarrow loads of dirt over top of the rocks and I'm hoping some rain will make everything settle.

    Is there a better way to get the rocks to settle... so they won't move around when I'm riding over top of them? And also, Can you guys give ideas for lines or something? - right now its just sort of a random mess with like one large hill of rocks type feature in the middle. Do you guys think rock gardens are more fun if you try to leave lines through the dirt you can hit or if you force people over rocks at every chance?
    Where I build there are plenty of naturally occuring rock gardens. But I still do a fair amount of rock work building stream crossings, and armoring muddy sections.

    What Uncle Trails and dburatti said is spot on IMO. Rock size is important. ~50 lbs is usually the minimum weight that I use, but shape is at least as important as size. Square or flat rocks stay put a lot better than round ones. You can use smaller rocks if they touch at the edges and wedge each other in. I've had some success using fist size rocks to cobblestone some muddy areas, but people tend to ride around them later in the season when the trail dries up.

    This doesn't strictly apply to you because your trail is for your own use. My observation is that a lot of people ride around rocks. What applies to your situation is that designing your rock garden so that there is a penalty for avoiding them might make it seem less random and more fun.

    By "penalty" I mean that the design include these design ideas: It may be possible to avoid riding over the rocks, but you are going to have to ride farther and take the slower line to do so. Also, setting some medium size rocks (6-10") on top of the ground around the edges of the garden (or big logs) can work to funnel the rider into the garden.

    Any fun rock garden IMO is going to require a fairly large amount of decent size rocks. A lot of work indeed. Good luck!

    Walt

  8. #8
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    I ended up just throwing a lot more dirt on the thing. All the rocks except for the big ones are pretty much covered. I'm hoping after a couple rain/sun cycles that everything will glue into place. If there are still wobblers Ill deal with them later.

    As far as the layout goes I think im just going to ride what I have and make adjustments after I get a feel for whats there. Ill try to get some pics posted after this rain cleans everything up. Thanks for the advice, even though I was to lazy to use it

  9. #9
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    Rock gardens can be easy.

    First you need a whole heap f rocks which it sounds like you have. Size and weight are really not much of an issue if done correctly. You need to dig a hole to burry 2/3 of the rock adding dirt on top would not be compact enough. If you want to make larger rocks or sections dig a trench and position the rocks so they interlink togther add some sand into the mix and cover with dirt.

    What ever dirt you fill in with compact it every few inches of fill till it reaches the level of the trail.

    Have fun planting rocks.

  10. #10
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    Results

    Admittedly, this rock garden still needs a lot of work, but I thought I would share my progress so far. I think I will end up moving some of the rocks and adding a lot more.

    Throwing the dirt over top of the rocks and letting the rain and sun settle them worked on almost all the rocks. You just have to put a lot of dirt on them.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  11. #11
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    That's not bad at all. If you continue tinkering around you'll get better and better at rockwork. And getting good at rockwork is invaluable because rocks last lifetimes.
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  12. #12
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    Wink

    That's not a bad looking little "garden" you got going there, I do see though that you're hitting the easy line to the right (looking at the pic straight on from the bottom) try weaving your way up through the chunk wish I had some place to play in the dirt like that that I could call my backyard.

    Quote Originally Posted by NoobHill
    Admittedly, this rock garden still needs a lot of work, but I thought I would share my progress so far. I think I will end up moving some of the rocks and adding a lot more.

    Throwing the dirt over top of the rocks and letting the rain and sun settle them worked on almost all the rocks. You just have to put a lot of dirt on them.

  13. #13
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    Yeah I do usually take the easy line on the side. You weren't supposed to notice that, lol. That big rock at the bottom is a chainring smasher, at the moment, if I try to go over top of it. Im planning on getting a bashguard sometime soon. I'm also going put some rocks in front of it to make it easier to ride over as well. And if I can locate any more rockpiles in that jungle ill be making the whole thing longer as well.

  14. #14
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    I like the looks of the line right up the center. Cut close around the big rock at the entrance, and then right up the middle.

  15. #15
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    Good job! Absolutely

    'Cept of course chainring basher or not I'd be trying the route going right over that big boulder and up the center over everything :thumbbsup: This home track should prove invaluable to improving your skill set.

    Quote Originally Posted by formica
    I like the looks of the line right up the center. Cut close around the big rock at the entrance, and then right up the middle.

  16. #16
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    The way we are looking at it in the picture is uphill. I've yet to even attempt the middle line going uphill, but downhill yeah its pretty fun

    Im thinking of building up the entire middle line the way it is in the center. Hopefully I can find enough big rocks and my back doesn't give out before I get them into place, lol.

  17. #17
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    I have quite a few little rocks gardens that need no building, but I have thought of a purpose built one. I am reading this thread with interest.

    I am NOT short of rocks :-<. Mind you if I had to either dig in the ground (can't in most places) or use precious soil, that would cause trouble.

    Anyway, I would have thought that a rock garden with a few sliders and rollers would be more fun!

    Not a bad little rock garden. Gives you choice: to go over or to go around

    Getting the garden "wrong" can be helpful. If you keep changing it you keep learning new riding skills

    I have to envy that vegetation. I live in S/W Australia (Perth) and we have "bush", all brown and dull green.

    Nick

  18. #18
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    Here's a rock garden I built. the bigger the rocks the better!

    50 to 100 lb river stones from a local creek - really hard work to build!

  19. #19
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    Vegetation can make nice pictures and sometimes even nice scenery, but man can it be a pain in the you know what to keep in check by yourself. Seems like there is a new briar bush leaning out over the trail around every corner every time I ride it.

    Cyborg, that looks like a sweet trail. The local trail in my area has a few gardens that look a lot like that one. They put them in almost as paving stones to go over the areas where water runs down the hillside. Thanks for sharing.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Team Cyborg
    Here's a rock garden I built. the bigger the rocks the better!
    I saw that little cart and thought "OK Timmy. Here you go then....."

    Nick

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoobHill
    Vegetation can make nice pictures and sometimes even nice scenery, but man can it be a pain in the you know what to keep in check by yourself. Seems like there is a new briar bush leaning out over the trail around every corner every time I ride it.
    Yeah. We don't have many really heavy duty prickle bushes, but every bush has prickly leaves. And believe I have to work to keep stuff clear as well.

    Mind you, actually riding the paths helps!

    Nick

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoobHill
    Vegetation can make nice pictures and sometimes even nice scenery, but man can it be a pain in the you know what to keep in check by yourself. Seems like there is a new briar bush leaning out over the trail around every corner every time I ride it.

    Cyborg, that looks like a sweet trail. The local trail in my area has a few gardens that look a lot like that one. They put them in almost as paving stones to go over the areas where water runs down the hillside. Thanks for sharing.
    Thanks - the trail is sweet, if you make it to Toronto look me up. This rock garden covers a wet area and is a challenge to ride ^--^^--^. I've also built a few in dry areas just for the fun of it. If you can carry the rock it's not heavy enougth!!! I use smaller rocks around the big ones for visual effect.....

  23. #23
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    I think the whole idea of building a rock garden is pretty funny. Where I live, New England, you can't throw a rock without hitting... well, another rock. Our rock work consists of moving rocks off of the trail, using them as fill for jumps, bracing berms and off camber sections with them, and building jumps over them. Rocks kill flow, and generally the line that develops is around them or jumps over them. I guess if you don't have a lot of rocks, a rock garden could seem like a pretty cool trail feature. Best of luck with your trail building.

  24. #24
    Builder of Trails
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinknugget
    Rocks kill flow, and generally the line that develops is around them or jumps over them.
    Ah! I differ on that statement. Rocks to me are just a different kind of flow. Sure, if you're used to cruising along unchallenged on hard packed trail, having to think about where to place your wheels, lifting your front wheel to get over a rock, and using some upper body strength to get through the technical trail feature of a rock garden can be a harder task to some.

    As a trail builder, despite the labor involved, I love building rock features on trails. Even in Austin where we have plenty of rock, adding even more challenging lines by moving rocks around can make things more interesting.

    Whatever your style of riding and building, enjoy the trails!

    D

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