Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Sprucing Up the Mailbox

My mom called me the other day and said, "I'm bringing you some bushes. They require full sun." Full sun is pretty hard to come by at my house thanks to the giant maple tree in the front yard. I was discussing where to put these plants with David, who suggested we plant them around the mailbox. This has always been an annoying spot to mow and we've talked about creating a flower bed there before. So it was decided.

Since that day, however, it has rained on every single one of my days off work. When I woke up this morning and saw that it was still sunny despite the forecast of rain for the next three days, I decided to race the clouds and see how far I could get on the project.

I wanted to make a border around the bed in the same style as the one at the front of the house that I put in last year.

The first thing I needed to do was figure out how many paver blocks I would need. I devised a highly scientific method to determine this. I put one foot on our current paver border and counted that one "foot length" was about three paver blocks. Then I counted out how many foot lengths my new border would be and multiplied by three. This came out to 38 blocks and so I planned to get 40 to be on the safe side.

Here's where we started. So glamourous. I started out by moving the flower pot and mowing the area I would be making into the flower bed.

Looking much better already. Then, it was trench digging time. From here on out, I'm going to be pretty brief in explaining what I did. For more detailed instructions, you can see my post from last year's border installation here. This is by far the most labor intensive portion of this project. I used a spade to create a line where I wanted to edge of my border to be. The I laid down some pavers to see how wide my trench needed to be.

Marked in yellow is the first side where I dug. Then, I did the same thing on the other side, making sure to get all the way under the grass I would removing as much as possible. This ensures the grass pulls up in nice big strips. Honestly, if I were less lazy I would have removed all the grass in the bed area, but oh well.

Then, I had to go inside and eat lunch because I felt very light headed.

After refuelling, I laid down my landscape fabric and filled the trench with sand for levelling the pavers.

Then put down my blocks. My highly scientific foot length method turned out to be extremely accurate, as I ended up using 39 blocks.

I did run into a small issue. There was a weird metal pipe that I unearthed when I removed the grass. It sticks up too far into my trench to lay a block over it, so I will have to have David go back in with a reciprocating saw to cut it off at ground level.

After I got all my blocks in place, I cut some holes in the landscape fabric and planted my bushes, then added some mulch.

As you can see by this picture, I managed to finish just as the clouds were rolling in. My little plants should eventually grow to be 2 or 3 feet in diameter, so they will fill in the space nicely. This border took me about 2 hours to complete and less then $30 in supplies. And now it will be much easier to mow around the mailbox. Win-win!

At the front of the house, I had filled in the gaps between bricks with play sand. That ended up washing out pretty quickly, and this year, I'm starting to see some weeds grow up into the gaps. So I do plan on getting some polymetric sand (it turns into concrete when it gets wet) and using it on both borders. I'll update when I get that project done!

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