How to Build Stone Veneer Raised Planter Beds
1) Mark the Ground
Okay, first step: figure out where you are going to put the planter and mark the shape out on the ground. It doesn't matter how you do it. We used gold spray paint to mark the hole, because that's what was available and the local gay flag-twirling corps suggested it.
2) Dig a Hole
"Make a hole. Make it wiiiiiiiiide." -from the band Mudhoney's song, "Make It Now". We have sugar sand, and lots of dead/dormant grass roots, so I ran the sand through a sieve to remove the organic material. There were lots of grubs in the sand about 6 inches down, so I threw those into the street. They started walking back to the sidewalk, so I used a samurai-like motion to chop them in half with my trusty garden weasel "Dameon". Then the birds arrived and ate the resulting pavement scorched road pizza.
3) Make a Trough to Hold the Poured Concrete
4) Put in Rewire
5) Pour the Concrete
Follow the concrete instructions. Here we are at work making concrete. Notice how my gloves match my socks. Yes, I'm that good. The big black thing is just a garbage can. Our neighbor Sean helped us with the concrete. He owns the electric motorized mixer, which saved some expense and effort. **Important**: When you pour the concrete, use a shovel to shove into the concrete to remove air pockets. Also, use a plywood backsplash to keep the concrete from pouring outside the trough. After a day of hardening, lightly hose down the wall after removing the masonite, to give the concrete some more moisture.
6) Apply the Stone Veneer
This is the tricky part. Buy some mason mix. All you have to do is add water, some cement adhesive (latex based?), and optionally, cement dye (read the instructions for all these). The mason mix should have the consistency of peanut butter, because it is the suction between the natural stone, mason mix, and cement that makes it hold initially. Also, clean the dried cement and brush with adhesive before applying the stones.To apply the stones on a vertical surface, butter the back of a stone with the prepared, wet mason mix and push it into the wall.
Update: It's also a good idea to put a dab of foaming Gorilla Glue (TM) or the like. With a strong glue like that of the Gorilla, there is no chance the rocks will pop out, even when walked on. We also have been using this glue to fix any stones that pop off, in situations where we didn't glue them down to begin with.
Repeat 6 stone application process million times until you have a veneer. The tricky part is aligning the stone, unless you precut the stone (we didn't do that, because we wanted a natural look).
We used two types of stone: Black Diver's Rock on the top and Great Lake Flats on the sides. The thinner, the better. 1/2" is too thick on the sides, as it will be too heavy for the mason suction. On the top, you can lay down some mason mix first and press in the stones after, but make sure to get mason mix on the rock sides, not just below, or the rocks won't be held in firmly.
Finished. Now I'm off to get some plants. I'll update this story as they grow. Here are the first two plants:
Updated Pics - 10 Months Later
Updated Pics - 10 Months Later