Friday, May 22, 2015

Project Sundays 5-10 & 5-17-15


Now that we've finally got that railing out of the way, it's time to start on our next project, which is to fix up the two raised garden-beds in the front of the house. And by "fix", I mean "completely re-do from scratch". You see, the previous owner of the house left us this:

A friend of mine described it as "A masterpiece. No finer landscaping has ever been done..." So yeah, we had to start from scratch. The first step was to sit down and get very overwhelmed. We've never done any real landscaping before, and this is sort of a big project to take on. We found some tutorials and a youtube video, and decided that it was time to get started. We decided to start on just the left side and see how it went before committing to doing the entire yard. Also, the left side was a lot worse, and needed fixing more desperately.

I yanked out that ugly-ass plastic liner and chopped it up with a sawzall so that I could throw it out. Then it was time for the daunting task of removing every single one of the pavers that were already in the ground. We saved them all, of course, and we'll reuse them when we're ready to re-build the wall.

After everything was neatly stacked on the porch, it was time to start digging. At this point, we took a break and went to the hardware store (a pattern in our lives) to pick up some supplies. We got some marking paint, pea-gravel and landscaping cloth. When we got home, we marked out the line where that we wanted to dig to, and then... then it started raining. 

We got a little bit of trenching done, but the ground was getting muddy and gross. So uh, we took another break. But it was a productive break, we went down into the basement and did a lot of demo work. Some previous owner had put up some really shitty studding, that at this point, wasn't even holding anything up anymore. Our house flooded last summer, and I guess the ugly paneling that was in the basement had to get ripped down, so all we were left with were these weird studs. We spent a couple of hours with a friend ripping down the studs and removing the falling drop-ceiling tiles. It was a productive afternoon, and we got a lot done.

At this point, we left to go back to the apartment and get cleaned up. It was Mother's Day, and we were taking our moms out to a fancy-ass dinner. Okay, we went for pizza, but everyone had a good time and it was a lot of fun.



We started out strong this weekend! We got to the house and worked on finishing up the trench for the left garden bed. We were going to dig down to about 2-3", but got a bit carried away, and dug to about 4-5" instead. But I've been told that this is good, as you want your first course of bricks in a retaining wall to be as deep into the ground as possible so as to provide a stable base to build up on.
I had purchased an expensive tamper to squish down the trenched ground into something resembling a flat plane, and it turned out to be exactly the tool we needed (good thing too, it wasn't cheap).

The next step was to lay out all of the bricks (or pavers) in a row to check on how flat the round is, and if the stones sit where we want them to, and a million other little finicky details. Like I said, it's super important to get this first row perfect, because you're going to be putting 2 or more rows on top of it, and you want them to look good, and not to fall over. Once we determined that yeah, it looked good, it was time to move all of the bricks and use our landscaping cloth.

I cut the cloth into sections with a utility knife, and laid it out about half-way across the trench, so that it would be covered by the bottom course of bricks. The cloth serves a few different purposes, but it mainly prevents weeds from growing up in between the layers of bricks. While we were doing all of this, some of our friends stopped by and got busy moving all of the bricks from the right-side retaining wall onto our porch, and in the time it took us to lay out 1 course of bricks to our satisfaction, they even managed to trench out the whole right side! Needless to say, hubs and I felt like we weren't getting nearly as much work done as them! But it all looks pretty damned good, if I do say so myself.

Here you can see the left-side bed with its first course of bricks, and the right-side bed all trenched out! This all took us about 5 hours of work in the hot sun, so we decided that it was time to call it a day. We're not going to be having a Project Sunday next weekend, and I've been a bit under the weather, so I don't know when we'll have a chance to come back and finish this up, but I'm hoping that it'll be soon! I want this project to be done with already!

Also, we're having the house painted right now, and I can't wait to show you some shots of the interior (which also needs some fixing up and some TLC), and to give you guys an over-view of some of the inside projects that we're going to be taking on!

So stay tuned!

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