Yard Project Update 3

It’s hard to see a lot of change since the last update, but we’ve been working hard! The major accomplishments last week were installing French drains, installing downspout drains and getting the first part of the irrigation in the ground. That meant a LOT of trenching and some of it was through some incredibly compacted dirt. I took the day off Wednesday and spent a good portion of the day with a pick axe breaking through it. I was sore that night! It feels great to have this all in the ground and hidden away though. Our back yard should be significantly drier now. It had previously been a swamp any time it rained, but a majority of the water that falls on my property will now be piped away. And I’m very excited to have irrigation! Given the layout of the yard and the water lines, we actually started with the parts of the yard that need irrigation the least but that’s ok. We’ll get to the rest of it.

And I should also mention that Don came over three days last week to help me set fence posts. Thank you! We put cardboard tubes in behind the wall to hold back the rock and give us a place to set the posts. Those cardboard tubes started to fail a bit in the rains so Don helped me get them set. There are only three more posts to dig and set before I can start building most of the rest of the fence.

Our neighbors have been super nice during this project, and that’s a good thing since we feel a lot closer to them with this fence removed! They even asked Tim to come take a look at their back yard when he’s done. We had another neighbor stop by and ask for Tim’s card too. He does great work and people are noticing.

The next steps will be finishing the irrigation in the other half of the back yard, filling in all the trenches, setting those posts and then building the fence. The majority of the work is behind us but there’s still plenty to do.

Update 1 and Update 2

Yard Project Update 2

Tim and I worked pretty much every night last week. I got the fence along the west property line close to complete and Tim spent a lot of time getting the bottom layer of the retaining wall perfectly placed. We were hoping to have the wall done by Friday night but at 10pm that night, we called it quits and decided to finish it in the morning. Saturday morning we met at Home Depot at 6am to make sure that we could rent their walk-behind skid steer loader for the day. It was a critical piece of the puzzle. We finished the retaining wall by about 9am and then backfilled the wall with a drain and gravel. Andy and Logan stopped by to help out too. They started by digging a couple postholes and then started the French drain and irrigation trenches. It was really difficult digging. Thank you! We had another 15 yards of dirt delivered. It would have taken forever to drive each load up into the yard so we set up a relay instead. Tim used the machine to fill wheelbarrows. The other three of us took turns with the two wheelbarrows running loads up into the back yard. Moving 15 yards of dirt one wheelbarrow at a time sure takes a while but I was incredibly thankful to have the machine, someone who knew how to operate it, and lots of people to run the wheelbarrows. We called it quits for the day after that and fired up the grill to enjoy some dinner.

Since we had church Sunday morning and then I was busy in the afternoon, we decided to take the day off to catch up on some other chores like mowing, bills, etc. But even with that, Tim and Chelsea came over for a couple hours to cut and glue the caps onto the wall.

This week we are focusing on completely finishing a couple parts of the project like the retaining wall, the fence, and yard cleanup. Then we’ll move on to trenching for the French drains and irrigation. I need to get the next walls of the fence started at some point too.

I’d guess that in terms of effort, we’re more than halfway though the project. That’s not too bad for less than two weeks of work! The remaining bit might take us a little longer in terms of calendar days though since the schedule starts to fill up a bit with Father’s Day, Elijah’s birthday, etc.

I had the GoPros running on Saturday for another timelapse. I’ll also throw in a picture of where we finished on Saturday.

Yard Project

From the moment we looked at the house, Tyla and I have had some dreams about improving our yard. We’re both used to huge lots in the Midwest so having 1/6th of an acre (which is a big lot in this area!) feels constricting. On top of that, lots of the plants were overgrown and the yard was in two tiers making the useable space even smaller. And on top of that, drainage was terrible so the yard was muddy a lot. Now that Elijah is walking, we really wanted to give him a place that was dry and safe to play in.

Thankfully, TimS does this kind of thing for a living and was willing to help us out in his free time. It’s a massive project but we’re trying to knock a lot of it out in just two weeks. Here’s what we’ve done to this point:

  • Remove the trees.
  • Remove all sod in the back yard, all remaining bushes and plants, and the fence. This took two dump runs with a big dual axle dump trailer and one concrete recycling trip with that trailer. Thanks to Don for loaning us his truck so we could pull that trailer!
  • Build a retaining wall along the northeast corner of our lot. Fill in dirt to raise that corner up about three feet to level out the back yard.
  • Build a new fence.
  • Add French drains along the west side of our lot to catch water flowing down the hill as it hits our property. Add drains behind the retaining wall. Tie the downspouts into the drain.
  • Add an irrigation system.

We’re making great progress. All of the demolition happened last Friday on Day 1 of the project. We rented an excavator, and with Tim at the controls the work got done quickly. Since then we’ve been digging postholes (thanks Don and Logan!), building the retaining wall and building the fence. The goal is to get the wall done this week and then rent a machine to trench and move dirt around this weekend.

It’s a massive project but so far it’s going pretty smoothly. The only set back so far has been cutting the Comcast and telephone lines. They were wrapped around and through a big tree stump that we were trying to remove. Oops! If that’s the only problem we have, I’ll be thrilled!

Tyla has the hardest job of all. Normally when I come home I try to take care of Elijah and give her a break and I try to do a lot of that on the weekends too. With me being out in the yard working every minute I’m awake at home, she’s on full time baby duty. This project couldn’t happen without her. Thank you Tyla!

Below you’ll find a timelapse video for our demolition day. Unfortunately both of my GoPros ran out before we got the stump out, but we did get it before the day was over.

And here is a comparison of what the yard looked like before and what it looks like now.

Backyard Project

I grew up on 6.5 acres. I now live on 1/6th of an acre. I regularly wait up and think of Phil Robertson saying “Another day in the subdivision.” This house is great, but the yard is tiny. The nice thing is that it means we can afford to make huge changes to the yard. Ever since moving in, I’ve been collecting ideas on my landscaping wish list and now it’s time to make it happen. Here’s a list of some things we’ll back doing:

  • Take down almost every tree and plant on the property
  • Lift up the northeast corner of the lot about 30 inches and add a retaining wall. This will level out the yard and give us more usable space.
  • Add drainage along the west edge of our lot to catch rain running down the hill onto our property. This should keep the back yard from turning into the swamp it is now.
  • Tear down the fence and build a new one
  • Take down the basketball pole and hoop and install a new one
  • Tear out all the sod and dig down a few inches. Replace it with better topsoil and new grass.
  • Add a planter area at the end of the sidewalk to help keep people from driving through the yard in the dark or the snow
  • Add new plants and trees

That’s most of it I think, but as you can see, this is an enormous project. Thankfully we have the expert, Tim, to lead us. He and I will be doing most of the work ourselves with help from any of you who want to stop in. We’re going to start and finish the back yard before digging in to the front yard.

I got a head start on the project by removing the cedar swing. I dismantled it over the course of a few evenings and then took it all to the dump. Seeing this small bit of progress has me very excited to dig into the rest of it! Expect a lot more posts about this.