Wednesday, April 27, 2011

If only he had known....

 “Oh by the way, I’ve ordered a jackhammer for when you come home”. Well isn’t that the usual husband-wife conversation?

One jackhammer, one crowbar and lots of muscle.
Of course there remained the small matter of moving 80 sq. ft of concrete.

My long suffering, pot moving, tree hauling husband happened to be out of town when I decided that it was time to rip up the front concrete pathway and begin the installation of its bluestone replacement together with a small front patio. The design had been on paper for months and this seemed like the perfect time to begin the project. So as soon as he left for the airport I was outside, spray paint and shovel in hand marking out the design. Several hours into aforementioned shoveling I came to the conclusion that this was much harder than it was 10 years ago! Enter a younger, stronger, faster reinforcement and the areas were prepped in record speed.

The next step involved shoveling, sweating and swearing.
Not necessarily in equal amounts.

So when my husband Andy returned home a few days later he realized that actually I hadn’t been joking and that an ‘interesting’ weekend lay ahead. At this point I think he might have liked to go back 24 years and re-think those marriage vows that he foolishly agreed to. That bit about love, honor and obey. There’s no ‘obeying’ in our marriage I’m glad to say, but he would like to include the phrase ‘after we have discussed it’. Oh well, such are the hazards of being married to someone who designs gardens; I have the vision but not necessarily the physical ability, which is where he comes in!

Sure enough that weekend our peaceful property resounded with the pounding of the lesser-spotted-jackhammer and clouds of concrete dust filled the air. With the old path gone and the new one dug out we now had to navigate our way in and out of the house in wellies. (Which explains the color of my work boots in the earlier post ‘What sort of gardener are you?’

The staggered path is complete and the patio started
Being the organizing sort I ordered a plate compactor, three pallets of stone and 4 tons of gravel for the following weekend. Torrential rain all week threatened to foil our plans but we (the Royal ‘we’) were on a mission and refused to be thwarted. Have you any idea how heavy saturated gravel is? A lot more than 4 tons I can assure you. And I won’t even talk about the weight of a 3’ x 1’ x 6” stone step which involved an engineering feat to maneuver into place.

Close up of pebble inserts
Inspired by Karen Stefonick's design
at the Northwest Flower &
Garden Show this year.

The hard work is now almost done with the stonework finished, the wiring in place and the mountains of soil leveled. We worked through gales, monsoons and hail storms over several weekends before having a celebratory glass of wine in the sunshine just a few days ago.

Now we just need a water feature, lights and lots of plants!
Detail of stepping stones connecting the main path
to the patio. By cutting a 3' x 16" x 6" stone step in
half we were able to create two smaller steps to navigate
the change in elevation from the front door down to the

My hope is that the Ibuprofen-numbing pain of this experience will be but a hazy memory by next summer, because I have plans for the back garden which make this project look like a warm up….

Membership of H.E.L.P. (Home for Exhausted Landscape Partners) is open to all. Contact Andy.

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