Wanda has yet another project going on this year. Now that the living room is completely refurnished, she wants all the river rock dug out from the side of the house and pavers put in place and a walkway added to the deck. Okay, I want to get rid of the river rock myself. The previous owners had put it in because they used that side of the house as a run for their dog, but we don't have a dog and the rock is a real pain in the rear when I'm trying to get the lawn mower from the front yard to the back and vice versa. Besides that, any attempt to walk on that surface without sturdy shoes is a exercise in masochism resulting in bruised soles and stubbed toes.
Once again, Wanda has done weeks of research, picked out the paver colors and patterns, and has dragged me to several landscaping suppliers to look at the difference between Appian, Boston, Camino, Roca, Arena, Octo, Holland and many, many other styles of stone. I've also had to look at Basketweave, Herringbone, Linen, Muster K, Step Running Bond, and Running Bond patterns using the various types of stones. This is not a simple project.
We looked at doing the job ourselves, but we simply don't have the expertise (or the backs) for that kind of labor, so she's had 4 or 5 contractors come out to bid on the job, and on Saturday she chose the guy who spent the most time explaining to her what the job entailed and how the various patterns would look - in other words, he spent more than 20 minutes measuring the area and simply providing her with a quote.
As part of the contract, we agreed that we would take out the existing river rock and provide him with a clean dirt area to level and fill before setting the gravel, sand and pavers. We thought, "Hey, a little manual labor will be good for us." Five yards of loose gravel and strained muscles later we're thinking, "Hey, we aren't as young as we once were!" The loose gravel came out, if not easily, at least without heroic effort. There is, however, the matter of the gravel that has been packed down into the dirt for the last 18 years. It's kicking our ass!
So, given that we want the project to start Monday after the 4th of July weekend, as well as realizing that if we want to keep our bodies relatively whole and not sore during the holiday weekend, we've hired some young labor to help remove the remainder of the gravel. I think at $10/hr it's a relative bargain, though I suspect it will take most of two 8 hour days to get the job done. Sometime, near the end of next week though, the side yard will have had a very large face-lift and will be suitable for the grandkids as a play area.
Unfortunately, as part of the project, I lost my vine covered arbor that divided the side yard from the backyard and which provided me with a lovely photographic prop. I put the arbor in over 11 years ago and had been carefully training the ivy to grow up one side, across the top, then down the other side. It was really looking good too.
I had thought we could simply lift it out of the ground with the vine still attached and move it to the side and out of the way during the construction process, since the lead runner was so thick and long. Alas, the posts of the arbor had dry rotted and all four broke off when we attempted to move it. Also, during the process of attempting to untangle the vine from the lattice work, the main runner broke (Wanda did it - not me!).
Removing the arbor does make the area look more open, but darn I'm going to miss it. It make a great background for photos. Just take a look for yourself:
Christine as a schoolgirl:
Holly from behind:
The Garden Fairy:
Ashley as the Bubble Fairy:
I'm really, really going to miss that vine covered piece of painted wood.