Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Gettin' Dirty

A couple weeks ago we finished paving the front walkway and may I say, it looks stupendous.  It took two weeks to pave it, and we've been spending the past week and a half preparing the new flower beds.  Here's the new path:
Yeah, baby.

How bout that beauty?


This past weekend, Chris and I worked on building up the dirt around the walkway so that it is flush with the bricks.  This step really helped the awesomeness of our walkway pop.  We actually borrowed a tiller from a family friend with the intention of tilling up the soil for our future flower beds and using the loose soil to pack in around the walkway.  Upon picking up the 30 year old behemoth from our friends' house, we quickly realized the task wouldn't be as easy as we thought.  The tiller was insanely unweildy and basically required a whole heck of a lot of muscle on Chris' part (we had a good laugh imagining me getting owned by the tiller).  Chris' dad hit the nail on the head when he compared using a tiller to "wrestling a gorilla".  I didn't take any pictures of this step because I had my hand on my phone the whole time with 911 on speed dial.  But alas, Chris won the wrestling match against the gorilla tiller injury-free and we had luscious tilled soil.  Let the following photos proclaim Chris' victory over the tiller...
Much better.
This required a lot of tamping.

Worn out tamper.

Chris worked on packing in some new asphalt where our new path meets the driveway.  There's this really awkward concrete wall that runs alongside the driveway; part of it is visible, part of it is buried.  In order to have our bricks the proper depth, we needed to break away the existing concrete wall -- this resulted in a little bit of asphalt damage on the driveway.  And a lot of frustration and anger towards cinder blocks and concrete.  Chris and his Dad tediously and strenuously swung away at the stubborn wall with a sledge hammer and attempted to ease the effort with the use of an angle grinder and some sort of "digging bar" (a large steel stick with a point on the end...not very technical).  Eventually they broke away what we needed to in order to accommodate our sweet new bricks.
As you can see, we needed to do something about the end of the walkway.

So Chris worked on patching the asphalt, which also helped reinforce the end of our walkway so the bricks don't come loose or slide down.  We can't be havin' that mess.  He also installed a metal edging piece alongside the new planting bed we created -- this will help keep our new top soil from spilling into the driveway.  It also looks quite snazzy.  Again, this required a little custom work with an angle grinder to get the exact length we needed.  As always, I'm thankful for my handyman almost-husband.  PS -- I totally failed at taking pictures of the asphalt filler (sorry, Chris).
Neatness.  We haz it.

While Chris slaved away on the hard stuff, I worked on laying out the shape of our new flower beds.  I began by dragging our garden hose from the backyard, which especially excited Rooney as it was spewing warm water everywhere.  He probably thought it was some sort of large urinating snake.  Regardless, I was urinated on by the hose-snake while attempting to keep Roon from crawling all over me.

I planned to lay out my hose in the shape that I wanted my new garden edging to be.  Honestly, dragging out the hose-snake and fending off Rooney was a really great decision because the hose made it really easy to outline and envision where my edging would go.  I was able to adjust it to scale accordingly and make any last minute decisions on curves and angles before I hammered anything semi-permanent into the ground.

I was really excited to lay out my edging until I read the instructions -- apparently you have to leave it in the sun for three hours to help loosen it up.  The edging is a very stiff plastic, so it makes sense that it would be more malleable after some cozy sun warmth soften it.  I unwound the edging and laid it in the middle of the driveway, taking care not to put any kinks in it.  I was mildly disappointed that I had to walk away from my productivity, so I wasted time the best and only way I know how to -- bargain shopping.

After a quick trip to TJ-Maxx (where I snagged a great deal on 2 fancy pillows for my angry neck, a baby shower gift, a pair of yellow polka-dot outdoor pillows for the porch, and some garden shears) I was ready to get back to work.  I was pleased to find my edging was much easier to handle now that it had soaked up some rays.  Instead of using the plastic steaks that the edging came with (which we decided we hated when we attempted to install some edging around the walkway bricks and quickly scrapped the project) we purchased some super-jumbo-sized nails for $0.18 a piece.  We purchased 25 nails, which worked out perfectly for about 55 feet of edging.  I slid the snake-hose aside and simply hammered in the nails to secure the edging.  This process went by quicker than I had expected.  Once I was done, I stood back and examined the new edging from afar and did some tweaking here and there until I was completely happy with the outcome.  I cannot describe to you the amount of pride I was gushing at this point over the beauty that was our new front yard.
One of my giant nails that I purchased separately...I'm a rebel, what can I say?

Awesome new layout! (Beware of the ever-looming garden hose snake)

Now all we needed was top soil to fill the new plating beds.  After 3 trips to Home Depot to lug tons of bricks, sand bags, and gravel, Chris and I decided we would look into having some top soil delivered from a local company.  We found that we would need roughly 4 cubic yards to fill our new beds.  At $35 a yard delivered, we found that it was FAR cheaper to order top soil than to pick it up at a home improvement store.  The same amount of soil from Home Depot would cost about $290 and would require the transportation of about 145 bags of soil.  Ummm, heck no.  Delivery it is.

We scheduled our delivery for a weekday while we were at work and made a sweet neon sign to indicate where we wanted our new top soil dumped.
It reminded me of something from Looney Tunes.

It was awesome to come home and find a heaping mound of soil just waiting to be placed in our new planting beds.  Not only did we save a lot of money by having it delivered, we also didn't have to take the time and energy to pick it up and bring it home.  Plus we supported a local company, which always pleases us.

We haven't been able to fill the beds yet, but we wanted to keep you posted on our progress.  In the meantime, I'll share the new light fixtures we ordered for outside.  First up, we have this winner for the front porch:
Sweet Craftmade Grid Cage hanging pendant.
And this matching 'lil guy for the light post: 
Got this is black though (not rust) since the light post is black.

I'll be sure to keep you posted once we have our new top soil situated in the planting beds -- Almost done!

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