Tuesday, April 7, 2015

the path

Since we bought our house nearly three years ago, we've been primarily concerned with finishing and updating and improving the inside - finishing the dungeon, adding a bedroom, taking out a fireplace, and not to mention all the scraping and painting of ceilings, etc. 

This summer is dedicated to outside.

One fine Saturday in the middle of March I found my ambition and cleaned up last years dead flowers. Before:

After. I was so proud of myself. 

We, however, had bigger plans. Well it was mostly me who wanted stuff done and done. And tidy. Poor Terry.

After we demolished our fireplace last year, we saved all of the intact bricks in a pile behind our garage. My plan was to use these bricks to make an inexpensive path around the back deck to take care of our spring and fall and winter and anytime there's moisture mud problem (ug). Those bricks  were such lovely piles. Not really. There were complete bricks on the left and half bricks on the right.

For reasons unknown to Terry or I, we just randomly started work on the path Friday morning of March 27th. We had even worked out that morning so we obviously hadn't planned on doing this. We just started and couldn't stop. 

The first thing to be done was to knock out all of the mortar from the bricks as possible. This was perhaps the worst part of the entire project. 

It took several hours. The kids help was invaluable! Terry and I just sat there chipping away and the kids brought the bricks around the deck and started placing them in the general shape of a path. 

Samuel helped pick up knocked out rubble and put it in buckets but he quickly became bored. I went to look for him and found him observing the mowing crew over the neighbor's fence! The dude kept trying to talk to Samuel and he just stared at him.

Terry went to get some gravel/sand from a nearby place and I worked on laying where I wanted the path to be. We had just enough bricks (something Terry had always been worried about). 

Originally we were going to start the path from the little cement pad at the bottom of the step, but upon reflection when Terry returned, we decided to add a little patio and start the path after that. Terry dug up that area and moved the rotten buckets away. 

Here's what I wanted the path to look like. Also on this day, we transplanted pretty much every single perennial plant that was back here. All of my purple Salvia flowers were bunched together and out of control, as you might have noticed from the first photo of the mess of clumped dead stems. We took the perennials out of the rotten buckets and added them to the flower bed line up. I really hope it looks nice. It's gotta look better than it did. 

My plan is to plant some Cosmos flower back here.
Like these:

The next day, Saturday, Terry dug out the path. Then we added edging to the left side of the path. Terry also poured some "crushed fines" into the bottom and I tamped it down with my weak spaghetti arms (they were so exhausted I couldn't text). It was then that we realized that he dug out too much dirt. The path was too deep and we were going to need more sand. Snap! 

We had to stop work early that day because we went for a long overdue date to the Alpine Inn. It was there that Terry called me "fine stuff" and I dropped my pop in my lap because my grip was so weak from all the tamping. I literally could not hold it. My hand gave out! I thought it was so funny. Perhaps that was heat exhaustion and overwork...
Terry and Fine Stuff before or after the spilled pop to lap.

The next day after church Terry had to stay for a meeting and dinner theater practice (a Mexico mission trip fundraiser). He had been a little discouraged the night before that we had a lot of work yet to do, so I wanted to surprise him by doing as much of it as possible by myself. According to our plan, I hauled, dumped and tamped all the extra rock and rubble we had into the path in order to fill it in. 

Then I went back and hauled, dumped and tamped more sand gravel over the top of it. 

See my pretty tamping marks? I was so excited for Terry to see that I had got it all done while he was gone! He was pleased. However, while I was working, I noticed that the soil to the right of the path kept eroding away and this troubled me. We had planned on using our border bricks, that we got for free at the dump, for the right side of the path (hence why we only put plastic border on the left side). But we realized that the right thing to do would be to add a plastic edging to the right side as well to make sure the whole thing was pretty snug. How's that for doing things backwards? I had hoped we were ready to lay the bricks!

Alas, no, it was not time to lay the bricks. By the time Terry got home all he had time for was to pour two concrete pads on either side of the weird little step on the back porch. We had decided we would add a proper full size step there.

 The next day was Monday and time for Terry to go back to the office. While Terry was at work I again laid out how wide the path needed to be so we could add the plastic edging to the right side. Then I added dirt back into the flower beds since a lot had eroded and I thought we'd need something for the plastic edging to attach to. I think I went in the wrong order here though. When Terry came home from work he ended up pushing back a lot of that dirt so he'd have room to add the edging. But he got it done in the end before we had students over for book study.  

I was a little bummed because I thought we wouldn't be able to finish the project until the weekend since the next day was Evie's birthday and then Wednesday is Terry's long day gone at the church for youth group. But Terry got up early that morning and got to work. We both wanted the project done. 

He added more sand to the path and tamped it down. Then he added the bricks back to the path and flagstone to the patio. 

He was going to leave it at that and go to work, but he couldn't stop. He poured sand over the bricks and stones and filled in the holes and gaps. And then it was time to let it all settle and he left. WAHOO!! The path was essentially done!

The next day he added more sand, wet it down and let it settle again. I thought we were going to have to live with a gravel-like path but he let me sweep all the large chunks of gravel and sand away and now our path is clean and actually complete! YAY for the end of a project! 
Terry made that bottom step too. Just need one more board and it's done.

It's still a little sandy, but we figure the weather will sort that out. We opted for sand/gravel instead of cement because we were hoping to avoid any cracking and breaking in the future. 







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