Monday, August 25, 2014

The landscaping project

Business has been slow.  I'd blame it on the fact that I haven't been promoting, but it was slow when I was doing a lot of promoting, and I got tired of wasting time and energy.  So, time to put that creative force into something else!

Our house is on the side of a steep hill.  How steep is it, you ask?  Well, when we have a good snowstorm, the city puts up barricades at the top and bottom instead of plowing, if that gives you any idea, and when I had my minivan I'd have to get the front brakes replaced every couple of years.

What that means for our house is that you walk in the front door, go through the living room into the dining room and go out the French doors there, you find yourself on our deck, which is a good 8-10 feet over the back yard.  If you go into the basement, there are two windows that overlook the street on the North side and from the back we look like a 2-story house.  Then, when you go along the fence line dividing ours from our neighbor's property, you find yourself going downhill and when you end up in the back section of our yard you find yourself staring at a rock wall and a back yard that's now about 8-10 feet above street level.

Along this rock wall is a dirt slope that up until 2 years ago was completely taken over by a holly tree.  I took that down to the stump, and last winter I pruned the pear tree on the corner that we hadn't touched in over a decade.  And then this spring, I got the wild idea that I wanted to turn this area into an iris bed.  I found some lovely black irises, which I proceeded to purchase, and now I've got to get this part of our property fit to plant.

Here's a panoramic view of the area in question before I started:

And a side view:

There's still a couple of areas that aren't quite clear yet, but I need to get this going as I'm running out of planting time.

That second picture is of the front corner, and a giant thistle grew up in everything else there.  I missed getting a picture of it when it was in bloom, but it's still pretty nifty looking in its going to seed phase:

Thistle Gone To Seed 2 by dbvictoria on deviantART

Here's a sad diagram I did in Photoshop of my grand plan:

Here's how you build a retaining wall.

My husband is also redoing the upper part of the back yard.  He just completed a new fence yesterday and this evening he'll start clearing the area where he wants to put a fire pit.  We did the math on how many retaining wall bricks I needed and how many he needed, added another 20% on top of that, and the lovely folks at Lowe's delivered two pallets yesterday morning.

Part of the clearing included breaking up all the branches from the holly and pine trees, which will be used in the christening of the fire pit.

I'm in the "dig a trench" phase now, which is step 2 of part 1.  (Part 1 Step 1 was to make a string line.  That's the only part of this entire process that didn't involve sweating.)  It's a good 30 along this section, and I'm about 8' in as of this morning.  I started out having to dig in only ~14" because the back corner is flatter, but I'm up to ~24" in width now because the creep is increasing as I get out towards the street.  There's also the stump of the now officially titled Evil Holly Tree, and its roots.

Day 1 (yesterday) trench progress:

And so far today:

I had to dig in a big further because of that root thing.  This time it's not the fault of my being straight-line challenged.  (Yes, this time.)

It's now getting into the hot part of the day, so I'm breaking until about 4 in the afternoon, then going out for some more torture, I mean digging.  I hope to have the trench finished by tomorrow evening, and the husband hopes to have the firepit completed by tomorrow evening.  I hope he finishes too, because then I can wheedle him into helping me, but the firepit comes first because we hope to premiere it for our birthday party next weekend.  (His birthday was actually Thursday, and mine is today.)

Oh, and if you'd told me 20 years ago that I'd be doing yardwork and landscaping on my birthday, I'd have suggested you go get yourselves committed.  How times change.