Monday, October 12, 2015

Epic catch-up post part 3: Sod Removal and Decomposed Granite Install

You know how sometimes you build something up in your head, and then when you finally get it you're kind of disappointed? 

This wasn't one of those times. SO. HAPPY.

The only thing that would make me happier would be to have money to finish this project in the backyard, and continue it into the side yard as well. But since it's illegal to sell your organs on the internet, I'll just have to save up some cash and maybe finish in the Spring. Delayed gratification is the lamest thing ever.

Here's how the project started:

Dumping road base and decomposed granite in our driveway

Sod removal in progress
The same location after (sorry for the shadows):
It's like I've been under water and can finally breathe. Negative space is important, ya'll; don't underestimate it.

And then even though it seemed like it couldn't get any better, it did:

 My fingers were so sore from putting those suckers together, but it was worth it. (Pretend you can't see the hose running behind it. I suck at staging photos.)

The above is further evidence of my craptastic staging abilities, but more importantly you can see the current "Tommy Two-Face" nature of the backyard: those white bags mark the beginning of the crappy grass zone.

Still, all I need is my firepit in the middle of those chairs, and I'll feel like I won the lottery. (Which I might need to do to pay for the firepit....)

Picture me here with a marshmallow on a skewer, accidentally catching it on fire in my firepit!
I understand what people mean about the granite tracking, but so far I've only seen that when it's wet (and then it sticks to your shoes like cement). I have a pretty decent transition of patio, then tile before we get to the hardwood floors, so hopefully that will keep me from regretting this decision. And sometime in the next year, I hope to add big rectangular limestone pavers along the most commonly traversed areas. That should also reduce the likelihood of tracking?

I had a tree expert come out and make sure that the dg around the tree roots wasn't causing them any harm, and he acknowledged that it was piled a little high but should be fine. (I had them trim the Live Oaks and some plants were smushed, but that's another post.)

A good problem to have: that giant empty bed against the far fence! So many plants and ideas....

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Epic catch-up post part 2: New Windows

When we bought the house we knew the windows were an issue: several were visibly clouded, and whatever insulating properties they once had were long gone. Unfortunately, they seemed like the least urgent of our negotiating and discretionary spending priorities.

I'm not even sure why or how, but a few weeks ago we ended up getting a quote from Anderson Replacement Windows, which means we ended up buying some windows. We didn't replace them all, but we prioritized some of the worst offenders: Ryan's office windows, and the giant kitchen window.

It's actually been cool enough to have the windows open all day long!

Ryan's office, and Ollie the photobomber

Sneak preview of my 3rd project!

My favorite part about them? Besides the fact that they open easily, and block out sound and temperature extremes, and look beautiful? A better view of the garden!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Epic catch-up post part 1: Fence Replacement

My lack of posting has literally been the blogging equivalent of me holding my breath. I've had 3 major projects spinning over the last 2 weeks, and today I got word that the 3rd was a qualified success, so I can exhale and post without sounding like a Neurotic Nancy.

I mean, more so than usual.

Project #1: Fence Replacement

This was one that caught me off-guard. Not the part about the fence needing to be replaced, that's a "duh". The surprise part was Neighbor Steve upping the urgency when he found out the people behind their house were moving out and he had carte blanche for fence design.

I've posted previously about our shared drainage challenges (see posts here and here). His was much worse than ours, but it became our problem when his yard couldn't handle the volume. You see, there's a slight grade to our cul de sac and really that entire side of the neighborhood, with our houses being "downstream" if you will. Having observed his flooding situation, he noted that he was getting a tremendous amount of water from "upstream" and the homes on the flip side of us. (A lot of the homes behind us have removed their sod and put down large rock, so their properties don't absorb any water at all anymore and it all becomes our problem to address.)

His imagined solution was a stone fence around his entire property, and he wanted to do that before someone bought the house behind him and had contrary thoughts. He included us in the discussion because he was fearful that his solution would effectively push the water volume onto our property, and didn't want to be a jerk. [Sidebar: our Neighbor Steve and his wife are awesome neighbors: they always take us and their other neighbors into account with any project they consider. We're very fortunate.]

I was a bit cranky about that initially (although only to Ryan), because while I totally sympathized I had been saving up for my sod removal/DG installation project and I didn't want to throw any money at a fence instead. I'm selfish.

Ultimately I'm tremendously glad we did the fence, because

  1. In getting someone to come out and give me quotes for the DG install, we found the fence guy we ended up mutually hiring.
  2. He gave me some tips on how to address my drainage solution (hint: get gutters, dummy).
  3. The fence dude told Neighbor Steve that a stone/cement wall would be expensive and overkill, and recommended just installing "rot boards". 
  4. The new fence looks SOOOOO much better!!
He did give us quotes for installing French Drains, which we (I) declined due to cost, and in hindsight I feel really good about that decision. I will get some gutters on that side of the house, and then we'll see where we're at on drainage.

Anywho, our fence is DONE! 

Do you see what I see?? That's right: more planting space.
We moved it up on the property by about 10 feet, because Neighbor Steve was doing that with his and it seemed weird for our fences not to start at the same point. The fact that it gained me more space for planting was purely an afterthought, I swear. (Although right now I'm loving the empty space. It gives you room to breathe and take in the yard.)

I had a 48 hour period when there was no fence in place and I freaked out about deer getting in and decimating my Cannas, but the fence dude said to put out mothballs and either it worked or I got lucky. Either way, no plants were harmed in the making of this fence.