Sunday, June 1, 2014

Beth Smash!

Our backyard is really lacking in any sort of outdoor entertaining space. No deck, no patio, no nothing. We have wanted to add a ground level wooden deck for quite a long time, but there was one big thing that got in our way. The backyard gate. The gate is at the end of a small paved breezeway between the house and detached garage. The gate swings in towards the yard and so even though the deck would be ground level, it would still come off the ground about 8", and thus, interrupt the swing of the gate. Even if we turned it so it swung out, we still feared the step up would be a tripping hazard. 

David came up with the idea of tearing out the concrete in the breezeway, which was cracked and in poor condition anyway, and then moving the gate so that it was flush with the edge of the house. Here's a picture to hopefully make more sense of that.

We prodded at the section of the concrete closest to the gate and it seemed like removing it would be a breeze and so we decided to get to work. We can call this Phase 1 of Operation We Want A Deck. I'm not sure if actual deck building will take place this year or not since I am filled with guilt over once again putting off work on the basement. We will see how we feel after Phase 1 is complete.

The first section of concrete was indeed super easy to remove. It took about 30 minutes to break it up and move it out of the way since the concrete was thin and not well attached to anything. We were lulled into a false sense of confidence about the project very quickly. The second section was a bit thicker and had poorly installed wire mesh in it. By the time we got to the third (and largest) section, the concrete was about 6" thick and very much correctly installed.

It took us all afternoon working together with a sledgehammer and spud bar (which is like a very heavy, long steel pole with one pointed end and one crow bar end) to get up the rest of the concrete.

And then the rest of that evening to haul it out of the way. We are renting a dumpster from the city to throw all this stuff into, along with some other junk that's been sitting around outside the house for forever. I'm really super pumped about it.

So this morning, we got started digging. There was a piece of conduit through which all the electrical wires run from the house to the garage. David wanted to replace it and the wires inside of it, but ended up not being able to since the garage foundation was actually poured over it. We also dug a trench to bury that obnoxious downspout drain pipe which is very efficient at collecting leaves.

So this is where we are now. I'll be talking about how we are going to move the gate in the next post, but first: what are we planning to do right here? Here's a very VERY poorly photoshopped rendering.

And here's my inspiration picture:

I plan to use Irish moss in between my pavers. I picked up some 16" square pavers from Lowe's which is the largest they had.

As you can see, they are looking really puny. I'd like to find some that are at least 24" square. I have looked around a few garden centers in town without any luck. There's one more place I'm going to try and if that is a bust as well, we have plans to pour our own. But that will have to wait until after gate move-age!

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