Showing posts with label deck. Show all posts
Showing posts with label deck. Show all posts

Monday, April 13, 2015

Hardscaping is hard.

We haven't been very good lately at taking it easy on the weekends. Last weekend they were calling for rain but then on the Thursday before the forecast changed to sun and I was like, "I guess there's no reason not to tear out the lawn in the backyard."

This was back breaking and it sucked so hard that I'm glad we may never have to remove sod at this house again. This was before, with our weird boards showing where a low deck will go.

As before, we put our sod on craigslist and a bunch of weirdos showed up and took it home. Enjoy your crap lawn! You're insane. Also, my back hurts.Those rolls were HEAVY. But now I can say I've removed every inch of sod from this property.

Then Greg and I sat here in our mudpit and drank a gin and tonic and bemoaned that our work was just beginning.

And then we moved two yards of gravel to the backyard . . .

. . . so that this guy could deliver two tons of rock to me.

And then Sunday morning I started working on a rock wall.

And then I had a crisis of confidence and nearly broke down because I couldn't tell if it was ugly or not. It looked great on paper! I'm still unsure of how to size the deck appropriately. So I pulled out some boards from the garage so I could make a poorly rendered mockup in Photoshop of what the deck might look like. Picture a beautifully stained 4 inch platform deck. And all of the old Home Depot retaining wall stones are going.

I need to redo the right side of the rock wall and bring it out a bit; I don't like the angle of the curve the way it is right now. The fake deck is currently 10x14 feet. I've looked high and low for some sort of guide for deck sizes (how much room do people need around a dining table? more than three feet?) but every guide is for a mega-deck in a yard where people hate gardening. I vacillate between thinking it's way too big and fearing it will be too small. Our deck just needs to hold a table that sits four people and our cute little bamboo couch.

We have two stupid things and one serious thing dictating the size and location of the deck. The serious thing is the drip line of the cedar, which we need to dig outside of, so it can't shift left any more, unless we cantilever the deck over the footings. The two stupid things are what-ifs that we never do:

  1. Really large dinner parties. Though we host barbecues, we've never had a large dinner party in the summer (I hate cooking when it's hot) and a long table could be moved to the open gravel area IF that ever happened. 
  2. Movie viewings. We don't own a screen but we borrowed a friend's screen ONCE four years ago and hosted a movie night. Greg wants me to leave this wall clear so we can hang the screen we may never borrow again:
The view from the deck
I'm sort of inclined to move the rock wall out even further, movie screen be damned (the front plants will be short, anyway). My main goal with this project is to get as much planting space as humanly possible while getting a slightly raised area for wining and dining (that may get a pergola or cover at some point). 

I'm already happy because we won't have a dormant lawn, come July. It made the backyard look so desiccated and sad all summer. All of the new plantings for the rock wall area will be drought-tolerant because I hate watering.

If anyone has opinions or advice, I'm all ears. Bigger deck? Smaller? Cantilevered? Get rid of it all and put in sod? I just don't know anymore.

Monday, August 29, 2011

How to build a franken-deck

Our back step had gone from being softly rotting to actively dangerous. If you didn't step exactly in the middle of the step the whole thing would cantilever over to the side and pitch you into the bushes. We eat outside every night and we both started to feel like we were tempting fate, having someone as clumsy as me going up and down it in semi-darkness, usually with my hands full.

My sister came this weekend and took fancypants pictures of my dried-out garden! We ate crawfish and relaxed in the backyard and drank too much champagne. 

At one point she asked us, "Wait. You don't have kids. What do you DO all weekend?" And we were like, "Whatever we want. Nothing or a bunch of stuff." Actually, Sissy, this is what we do. We build franken-decks.

You'll want to remove the old rotting stairs, taking care to salvage the fern growing under them. You already have thirty ferns in the yard but that's not enough. Swear when a wasp comes flying out from underneath the deck. In case there's a nest under there, dig out the can of Raid from the basement. Put on a hoodie and gloves and watch as Greg arms himself with nothing but a hammer. Welding a hammer instead of protective clothing isn't stubborn at all, GREG. I'm sure that hammer will protect you against a swarm of stinging insects.


We're all good! There's no nest. There IS a pair of socks, a Pepsi bottle, a Ball jar, a broken coffee cup, a yogurt container (Yoplait strawberry), and a can of A&W cream soda. The former home owners were hungry and a little bit sloppy, apparently.

You know what else they were? Lazy. These posts aren't sunk into concrete. In fact, they aren't connected to the main platform in any meaningful way, they're just kind of wedged under there. Cheerfully remind each other than this is a stopgap measure, and that you're going to replace this whole deck next summer. Drive some extra nails into the posts.

Decide to use two of the old piers you found in the yard and two new piers, just to make the measurements more complicated. Start digging a hole and realize you didn't buy enough gravel, prompting your second trip to the Home Depot in less than an hour. Make sure to forget your phone! When you're en route and you're thinking, "He might need me to pick up something else, I should turn around and grab it," ignore that impulse. JUST KEEP DRIVING.

Get home and learn that you need a different kind of bracket. Head to Lowe's this time, just for variety. Take your goddamn phone this time, okay? Enjoy the fact that you're driving around in air conditioning while Greg is digging holes, tamping gravel, and measuring things in the blazing sun. This is kind of the best thing ever, actually. Get back just as he's finishing up the crossbeams for the new step.

Your timing is excellent.

Decide that you should actually help build this thing. Here baby, let me nail in the treads. Be sure to drift! Greg didn't labor all afternoon just to have you drive nails in a straight line. Also, don't pay attention to the boards moving out of line.

Decide to reclaim the facing board from the old rotting step, just to give it more of a shabby chic feel. Also: bragging rights. Oh, you bought new wood for your deck? We reclaimed wood from the old one because we actually care about the environment. Get an uncontrollable case of the giggles because it looks so franken-decky. That's okay though, because the new step is SOLID.

Eat so much chicken at dinner that you suspect Greg is wondering if you're pregnant. (dude. no.) Driving to the hardware store that many times and hauling bags of gravel is tiring! Never mind that he did most of the work.

Seriously though, I love doing home improvement projects with Greg. We always laugh a lot and there's nothing more satisfying than putting your arm around the man you love while looking at your completed project and thinking, "We built that fucked-up looking thing together."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Some random updates from the garden

I really want the entrance to the yard, as you go past the ferns and bleeding hearts, to envelop you in green.

Ultimately I want to put an arbor here with an evergreen vine on it but for now I decided to use my victory wine barrel planter to plant fennel. Fennel gets tall and bushy pretty fast, so it should fill in quickly. Fennel also gets thuggish, so I wanted to keep it confined to a container. Putting the barrel at the entrance to the yard will remind Greg, every single time, that I am stubborn. Because he wouldn't remember otherwise.

The fennel is small so I filled out the planter with astilbe and petunias. Go, old lady annuals, go!

I bought this stool at a thrift shop two summers ago and it sat in my garage, unused. I threw some Autumn Joy sedums in a pot (they will get way too big for it but I can transplant later) and it's nice to have some height in this area. I want to transplant my clematis to this area so it can climb the fence and not have to compete with the hops.

Sedum telephium

I planted a purple sedum that I'm in LOVE with, sedumBertram Anderson.' I think the purple is going to look awesome with the Oregon stonecrop (the seafoam colored one on the bottom).

SedumBertram Anderson

Bleeding heart is beginning to grow up through the hosta and I love it.

So once the fennel grows in and I get the rain garden in there should be a corridor of green that draws you into the yard.


So there will be fragrant mock orange and daphne on the left and fragrant sarcocca on the right (can you see its tiny form next to the wheelbarrow?) and a lush rain garden with grasses and sedges that draws you in and points you toward our awesome deck (which is coming soon).

We pretended to have dinner on the deck the other night (before I replaced the fence). It was lovely.

Summer in Oregon, I'm gonna marry you and have a million of your babies.