Showing posts with label fence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fence. Show all posts

Friday, March 30, 2018

Life updates and plans

So 2017 was a pretty crappy year, huh?

Despite the constant feeling of doom we had some good things happen. We adopted a puppy from the Oregon Humane Society. He name is Bee (Beezus Marie when she's bad) and she's pretty much the best dog. We adopted her during a heatwave where temperatures reached 107 and our backyard was being hardscaped. It was chaos. You haven't lived until you've scraped puppy poop off your kitchen mat in 107 degrees while some construction guy tries not to stare at you.

Our hardscaping is done and I have declared 2018 to be "The Year of No Big Projects, Damn It. Just Enjoy Your Fucking Garden, Heather."

We replaced the franken-fence at the entrance to the backyard with a proper fence and a gate that keeps the dog in and random runaway dogs out (I can't tell you how many dogs have appeared in our backyard, meaning I spent the day trying to find their owner instead of gardening).



We hired someone to do it because we are not good at building fences. The gates never close right and they're always a little crooked. This stupid little run of fence makes me SO happy every time I see it.



I'm also planting more flowers because more flowers are more better. I am not optimistic but I am planting flowers as a way of staying sane.

I lifted this from Facebook, the artist is JM Nieto

I've also been trying to simplify the front garden. I'd like the luxury of having a bad year or two without having to worry about maintaining the public area of our house. As a result I think we're becoming "the agave house" but I don't care because I like my agaves and I have pups coming out my ears. I'm buying more of the plants I already have in an attempt at cohesion. I look forward to spending a lot of money to reduce my front garden to three plants, then changing my mind in a few years.

I'm also trying to figure out how I want to use this blog going forward. I'm considering turning off commenting so this exists as more of a garden diary. It's not that I don't want to hear from people, it's that it stresses me out to feel like I need to reciprocate and comment on the blogs I read. There's only so many times you can comment, "Gosh, that's pretty" before you start to sound and feel like an idiot robot.

Bee is going to keep widening the pathway she's put right here. Dogs are funny.

Friday, June 17, 2016

What about that tree?

Back in April I wrote that we were going to remove the cedar tree from our backyard. A huge thank you to everyone who gave me input on removing the pieris (it's gone!), as well as suggestions for new plants in this area.

Before: boxwood on the right, Pieris on the left

The tree came down super fast by a company I can't recommend, so I won't mention who they are. The owner hires day laborers, pays them terribly, and they trampled my plants.

Please enjoy this video of the top-most part of the tree being removed. I shot it while lying on the floor of our office. I had no idea how tree removal would work without a crane, so this was fascinating and nerve-wracking to watch.

The company did a piss poor job of grinding out the stump (I should've used Chip Away like I have in the past), so we couldn't sink the new fence post halfway between the existing posts, like we wanted. Eventually everything will grow in and we shouldn't notice how stupid this fence looks.

After we rebuilt the fence (the extra-tall post is so we can string lights from it), I had to rake up years and years of cedar detritus and all the shavings from the stump grinding. The area was a MESS.

Then I got to cram way too many plants in!

This is the least exciting photo ever, I know. It's pretty unexciting in real life, too. The structure will eventually come from shrubs that are too small to see, so everything is filled in with a mix of grasses and annuals. If this turns into anything visually pleasing by the end of the summer, I will be surprised.

In the meantime, I don't miss the cedar at all. I'm so excited about the new trees and shrubs I have planted. Our next step is to talk to a professional about building a shade structure of some sort and figuring out whether we're going to build a platform deck. We have been absolutely paralyzed by indecision, so it's time to talk to someone with experience. Then we can get down to the sweet business of drinking gin and tonics and relaxing in the backyard.

Ha ha, just kidding. I'm going to stuff more plants into this area. I'll probably take them from the area on the left, where I crammed too many plants last summer. I can't help myself.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A gate. Finally.

Since we sunk the fence posts a few weeks back we haven't progressed much. I hung the stringers and outer boards on two of the sections but couldn't move further until we tore out the old corner post.

That post was almost completely rotted through and hosting quite a community of insects. Two summers ago, when I replaced that fence, I reused the post, feeling that it would hold up until we were ready to extend the fence, and it did.

This weekend we had to dig the old one out, re-sink a new post, then finish off the fence and gate. I took the boards off the front and watched in horror as gobs of insects emerged from their nest inside the post. The post lifted right out of its concrete footing and I asked Greg to get it as far from the house as possible, in case the insects I saw were termites. He dropped it right next to the house and I swear I've never wanted to marry him so badly, just so I could divorce him.

I flipped out, he moved it, we were cranky as hell with each other for a few hours. Normal home improvement stuff.

Next we had to dig out the old concrete, which wasn't too bad. We dug all around, then wedged a board under the lip, like a lever. Greg stood/bounced on that while I cranked with the pickax from another direction. And now we have this sweet concrete phallus to use as garden art!

This was an interesting project because I have built all the fences thus far, in some cases without any help. All of a sudden Greg had opinions on the building, and he was telling me to do things.

Anybody who knows me in real life knows that shit don't fly. Unless we're in an emergency and you're trying to talk me through landing the plane or delivering a baby in a taxi, don't tell me what to do. Anyway, I am the worst but we got through it. Greg is the engineer so he designed and prepped the gate. We hung it and leveled it (definitely the hardest part) and got it about 95% done.

Now we need to cut off the tops of the fence posts, rip down some narrower slats (we don't own a table saw), and stain and seal the boards.

I'm reusing some of the old boards to close the gaps on our back fence. As the boards have expanded and contracted in the sun and rain, the gaps have grown and we can see quite a lot of our neighbors' yard (and they ours).

I'm worried we'll forget to close the bedroom drapes and give our neighbors' kids an accidental anatomy lesson. So up the boards are going. They are wonderful neighbors but I'm happy not to see them through the fence.

But the thing that's making me happiest of all is the new gate, which means we have TWO entrances to our yard. We can complete one continuous loop through our front and back yards. Extending the gate also makes our backyard feel bigger and more spacious.



Next up: sod removal and the acquisition of a hammock to better enjoy the fruits of our labor. And maybe some sort of screen to block the view of the AC unit.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Good fences make angry neighbors

It was really hot this weekend, so rather than enjoy our deliciously cool house, we decided it would be a good time to put in the fence posts on the west side. There's nothing like digging really deep holes and struggling with bags of concrete when you're concerned about heat stroke.

We're bringing the fence forward just enough to hide the air conditioning unit from the street. We're also going to install a gate so we can enter and exit through either side of the yard.

We found the buried property line pin at the sidewalk and ran a line back to the fence post in the very back of our yard. There was a lot of measuring and remeasuring and debating about how to deal with the fact that our existing fence practically meanders, it's so crooked.

You know how there's always telling you, "Call before you dig!"? If you call as a normal civilian they will mark where your lines are in your hell strip but they won't tell you where they are on the main part of your property, which is pretty useless. We know our gas line runs somewhere through this area, just not exactly where.

We got two post hole diggers from the Tool Library because we're only digging six holes. Also, I'm scared of puncturing our gas main with an auger. It really wasn't bad at all; it took us about an hour and a half to dig five of them. And I found our gas line! Thank goodness I was working on pulling out small rocks but hand when I did, so I didn't puncture it.

THANK YOU, UNIVERSE. Not blowing up is the best!

I don't have any progress photos but we dug our holes 24" down, put in six inches of dry quickcrete, then filled the rest of the cavity with wet quickcrete. It's what the bag said to do and I always listen to bags. We got everything all level but some of them settled so they're a little bit off. Have I mentioned that Greg is an engineer? These little booboos didn't bother him at all.

Just kidding, I thought he was going to have a stroke. Those little errors reallllly bother him.

I was like, look, our fence meanders anyway, and there's a huge cedar tree in the middle of it. Let's drink a beer and not think about it! This is why I'm not an engineer and why I'll never design bridges or spaceships or heart valves.

We ran out of concrete when we had one post to go, so we took a little break. At this point our next-door neighbor came by and he seemed . . . concerned. I had talked to him last summer about the fence and he was like, "Whatever! Do whatever you want, I don't care!" We stopped by that morning to talk to him but he was out. I figured he didn't care, which was not very neighborly of me. I wish I had waited long enough to talk to him again because I feel terrible now.

We have some hard decisions to make now, like whether to bring banana bread or pie when we go back to apologize again for not talking to him first, again.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Crossing things off the list

I have some time off before I start my new job so I decided to finally tackle the dilapidated fence on the west side of the yard. I've also watched an inadvisable amount of Real Housewives of New York. That show makes me feel dirty.

The fence didn't provide a shred of privacy.

Also, the cedar (it's a cedar! not a hemlock!) was planted too close to the fence and, as it grew, it pushed the fence out.

So I had to build the fence around the tree. But first I made sure to NOT measure the existing posts (which I was reusing) before I went to buy wood. I just assumed they'd be six feet apart but, no, these posts were sunk by a drunk toddler, so some of the spans are 93 inches, some are 70, some are 82! It's fun because it requires custom cuts for every single stringer AND now the fence isn't up to code. But I digress.

Ignore the horizontal board, it was just to help me keep the board height level.

We still have some special cuts to do around the cedar but I figure I should let the enginerd help with that. This weekend I had a hot shirtless Greg mowing my lawn in my newly private yard that I love and I felt so, so lucky.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The deal with the post

The biggest thing that was stressing me out about the fence was the corner post.  We discovered while we were ripping the old fence down that it wasn't in the ground; it was just sitting on top of a rock.  A rock that was part of the retaining wall in the other neighbor's yard.  Hmmm.

I wasn't sure what we were going to do about it.  The post-digging kid started to try and dig out the rock, but it went really deep.  We decided it was better to leave it.  Luckily for me David is a genius.  He suggested putting in a stringer, like we did for the vertical board fence.  I bought braces and we cut a small section from an extra 4x4 and braced it to the retaining wall post.

Then we used small pieces of 1x4 to attach it to the side fence.

The view from neighbors' yard:

Not bad, right?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Cue the Etta James

At last . . .

I have privacy!  I have a fence!  Two different kinds!  

Why?  It's sort of a long story.  

Basically, I never noticed that there's a dramatic elevation change as you move from the yard on the left to the yard on the right.  It drops about two feet along the length of my yard.  So when the ten foot posts went in, down in the neighbors yards, they were really sort of short on the right.  So short that if I put in the horizontal boards up like I planned, the fence would be under five feet at the right side.  So we put a vertical board fence on the right (it matches that neighbor's other fences) and a horizontal board fence on the left.  

My friend David, he of the arbor vitae removal, lent his expertise and helped me build this.  I have the most amazing friends.    

I can't tell you how heavily this project was weighing on my mind--there was an issue with the corner post that I'll write about later and it seemed like weird things kept coming up.  For an entire year I've had this stupid fence hovering over me and it's like a giant weight has lifted.  Did I stress about this fence more than was necessary?  Absolutely.  But, you know, this is me we're talking about.  Being tightly wound is my thing.

My friend T remarked that the vertical boards make the patio look cozy, like an outdoor room.  That's officially the new reason we did it this way!

I'm hoping to sweet talk my Twitter friend Lelo to help me pick out some shrubs to fill in the gaps around the perimeter of the yard so that someday I won't even see the fence.  Hooray for getting back to obsessive plant ogling!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fence posts are IN

Oh man, I can't tell you how much this fence has been stressing me out.  But the posts!  The posts are in!

There's a whole new issue because of the dramatic elevation change that takes place as you move toward the far neighbor's house but I'm not going to talk about that now.  I'm going to vacuum my basement and go to my happy place.  

What, you don't vacuum your basement when you need to clear your mind?  Weirdos.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Thwarted by fences

Remember this fence?  The one that defines the boundary between our properties but provides no privacy?

It was patched with chicken wire and chain link, I'm guessing to stop a dog from burrowing underneath it.

So in, oh, eleven thousand spots someone had attached the chain link with twisted bits of wire wrapped around screws in the fence.

This is a stupid way to secure a fence.

So I had to climb behind the shrubs (like the rhododendron) that had been planted *right next to the fence* and find all the places it was attached and untwist the wire so it would release.  I had this brilliant idea to cover this fence in bamboo screens to provide more privacy.  I bought one section and labored to squeeze it past the rhododendron and the bamboo.

Isn't it so private now?  I'm going to try adding a second layer of bamboo to see if that helps, but I'm not very confident it will.  WHY CAN NOTHING BE EASY?