And The Walls Came Tumbling Down

Not walls exactly, just one of the sides of the Driveway Border. When the snow melted this spring, it revealed that a bunch of the pavers used to create this border had fallen over.


I made this raised border with two rows of pavers. The bottom row is dug a little more than halfway into the ground. The second row sits on top of the first, set in a fraction of an inch, or at least that was the intention. They are dry stacked, without any kind of mortar.

It’s not exactly Old World craftsmanship, but it generally works OK. Except that in places the plants and soil seem to be pushing out against the pavers, and parts of the top row just fall over now and then.


In response, I just clear out the soil and stack the second row back onto the first. I did this again last weekend. As you can see, though, these second row pavers are still at a somewhat gravity-defying angle. I do conduct regular maintenance by giving the pavers a few good kicks inward as I head out to work in the morning.


For most of the gardening season this defect is not a big deal because the edge of the raised bed is completely obscured by plants. For example, here’s Nepeta x faassenii ‘Kit Cat’ blooming during May of last year.

2014-07-04 16.09.48 butterflyweed, driveway border

Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa) helps out with its own flowers later in July.

Still, from early- to mid-spring the edges of this raised bed and its less-than-sturdy construction are laid bare. So I’m wondering: should I just keep putting pavers back as they fall over, or should I rebuild the low wall surrounding this raised bed – perhaps out of some other material – though I have no idea what that should be.

Any suggestions?

58 Comments on “And The Walls Came Tumbling Down”

  1. I guess it all depends upon how much time and effort you want to put into it. You might need some heavier/larger material so it can’t be pushed out so easily, or you wait until the beautiful flowers cover it. Not much help here probably because I’m using a heating pad on my back still from the last shoveling incident so I wouldn’t want to tackle the project right now. 🙂

  2. I giggled to myself when I read that you just give them the boot when you walk by. That would be my way of dealing with them. I do know how annoying it can be to see them acting like drunken sailors. You don’t even have dogs to blame for such a knock down. As Doris says, don’t worry be happy.

  3. I can just picture you giving those pavers a kick as you walk by in the morning – that made me laugh 🙂 As others have said, it all depends on how much work you want to put in.

    If you do decide that you want to replace the existing ones, you could do pavers that are narrower (horizontally) and longer (vertically) and sink them into the ground. Or you could do the angled brick thing, which looks rather nice:

    In both cases, you wouldn’t need the 2nd row, which seems to be the main issue.

  4. Since the plants are just going to cover up any work you do on a wall, I think I would just use the same pavers. But I would suggest using rebar pounded into the ground around them to stabilize them a bit, so they don’t get quite so wonky in the winter. That might save you a little work.

  5. Dig a trench big enough to stand bricks up on end in, and just deep enough to leave the amount of brick you want showing above the soil line. Put some mortar along the bottom of the bricks in the trench and when the mortar is dry rake the soil back into the trench. They won’t move because if they did they’d have to move as one.

  6. I love the kick method! At my age, I count the hours I can be in the garden doing the fun stuff, so I’d explore a deep paver that you can sink in the ground that would have more of a likely outcome of not needing kicks and hours of maintenance. I think I have seen those deep pavers at the big box stores. I recall they are cement in appearance, and maybe that is not to your liking, but soon the plants will be spilling over anyway. ANd then when they are cut back, comes the snow.

  7. I used what I call castle block for walls that need to actively retain a bed. It has a lip, so they can’t slip out. The ones I originally used (20 years ago) were solid; now they are hallow, so lighter to handle. Their one drawback is they tend to be a bit deep. A plus is you can build curves.

  8. Used to have the same problem with my scalloped edging. Once a year I’d need to set it straight. I vote for realigning them and then let the plants grow over them. Thought your kick comment was hilarious.

  9. Haven’t read all the other comments, so maybe someone has mentioned this. You could put gravel in right behind the wall which would slow the pressure from the dirt. Also if you redid the whole wall put weed barrier and gravel right behind the pavers. I don’t think there is another material that will be better. We have a lot of walls in our garden and sooner or later they start moving!

  10. The former owners of the MoneyPit built raised borders by cementing flagstones together, stacked about 5″-6″ high. Every winter more of the top ones disconnect themselves, exposing a big blob of what looks like a flattened hockey puck of dry white cement. Between the soil, the roots, and the “weathering”, I’m surprised any of the sections are even remotely intact, frankly! (now I’ve said that, one will probably tumble down in the next heavy rain…)

  11. Hello Jason, could you stop the pavers from falling forward by pinning them back using short lengths of rebar? It might look ugly when exposed but should be covered in summer, though you might need too many rods as each paver would need two to hold it back properly. The “kick” method might be less hassle!

  12. Lovely blog, in the U.K. We use old timber supported with pegs or stakes hammered in behind to support them. The timber needs to be about 1″ thick by 4 or 6 inches high. This will last for years and the plants look great tumbling over in the summer and it looks tidy enough in the winter.

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