Posts tagged Landscaping
Fifteen years in the making

One of the necessities of owning a business is having a commercial garbage container. It needs to be located in a place the giant garbage truck can easily get to which place ours right in front of the house. That simply wouldn't do. Our solution was to construct a building to house the unsightly garbage bin. Only this building looks a lot like a giant mountain, complete with a gnarly tree on top. The steep slopes have built in planters at various levels which will overflow with such vegetation soon. At the back of the mountain is another set of doors which swing open to reveal the garden tractor and all of the yard tools. We actually started the garbage bin project right after we bought the property fifteen years ago. But the location for the house and driveway were not yet finalized. We fabricated the tree and framework for the mountain and then put the brakes on the project pending a final decision of location. The mountain was moved four times before we settled on this location. After the new house was largely complete work commenced one more on the garbage mountain. Each year we get a little more complete. In the next few days the sculpted concrete sculpting will be finished and painting can begin at last!

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Big changes

Since my last post we've been very busy on the house. Much of the trim is now finished on the exterior. The sidewalks have now all been poured. New fence separates the yard from the driveway. More rail road tracks have been laid and the driveway has been blacktopped. We also laid turf on most of the dirt, finishing off the yard. Shrubs and flowers are in place as well. The place is looking pretty good.

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There's still lots to do and we will continue working as we have time. Stay tuned for more...

-grampa dan

Smoothing the back forty

Although we are in a time crunch as we work towards the end of our current large project, during the evenings and weekends I manage to squeeze in a few hours at a time to work on the landscaping in the yard. Our goal is still to be fully landscaped by mid-summer.

The big lawn between the house and the shop is the first order of business. The shaping of this rea began back when we built our shop ten years ago. Each time a neighbor did some work in their yard and had spare soil  we added to the berm, gradually building it up to the shape we wanted. The new septic field added forty feet to the length of the berm. Once the new house was comlete we took out the old and it was time to use the massive pile of excavated soild to do the rest of the shaping. We leveled it out with an excavator, smoothed it as best we could and threw down some grass seed in the fall. We would let things settle over the winter, Some areas had been filled up to eight feet and the elevations were bound to change a bunch in places. I enjoyed mowing the rolling expanse of grass this spring but I had to go slow as the lawn was more than a little rough in places.

Last week we took delivery of twenty four cubic yards of soil to top dress the lawn, taking out the humps and bumps and filling in the low areas. The first two loads disappeared in a hurry! Today I ordered three more loads. I first haul it to where it is needed and then spread it with our garden tractor with the front bucket. Once the soild is in place I hand rake it and then jump on the small garden tractor. I have welded up a very large piece of steel to further smooth and tamp the new soil in place. The process works well and in less than three hours I have done a good sized section of the lawn. The ground is smooth enough that I no longer have to hold on to keep from being thrown from the seat of the tractor as I travel back and forth so many times. 

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With 36 cubic yards in place and the next twenty-four waiting it is my bet that it will take another three or four loads to get things right. The area behind the tractor is still very low and sloping the wrong way. This is where the bulk of the next loads of soil will be placed.

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It is my hope that I can begin the seeding of the new lawn on the weekend. It won't be long until I can cruise of the new green grass and go to my happy place once more. Stay tuned as we wait for the green...

-grampa dan

Concrete day

This morning bright and early we taped plastic around the bottom of the rockwork around the porch area. it was to protect it from stray bots of concrete that were bound to splash up. It happens even though we had one of the best concrete men in the business. The concrete crew and truck arrived just before eight to begin the job. 

The concrete was dark brown in color, rich and a perfect match for the heavy trees that line the front of the house. We opted for extra strength and with a fine fiber to minimise cracking. With the eight feet of well packed gravel underneath this driveway shouldn't ever settle and crack. We had left the concrete unfinished through the fall and winter just to allow extra time for packing.

The three man crew took their time wheelbarrowing the concrete into place and carefully pusing it with their hand trowels to the edge of the uneven rock and tree border. While their extra time and care will undoubtably cost me extra we happlily paid for we were much more interested in a good job than saving a few dollars.

By lunch time they had the concrete in place and it was triple trowelled to a smooth finish. They then sprayed on the retarder and took a well earned break.

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I had to leave for the jobsite but when I got back after work they were just putting the tools into their trailer. The concrete had been lightly exposed and looked fabulous. We'll have the expasion lines cut in tomorrow and then our concrete man will come back to clean it one more time and acid wash it before adding the sealer and 'shark's tooth' to finish off the job. The 'shark's tooth' is a ground glass it make it non-slippery.

This coming weekend I'll remove the forms and grade the gravel and bark mulch around the concrete to finish things off. I can then measure up the trim needed for around the door and get that into production to finish this side of the house at last. Stay tuned...

-grampa dan

A matter of form

As the better weather of summer approaches we are beginning work on the outside of the house once more. Our goal is to have everything done by the beginning of August. It's a tall order - as usual.

Today Peter and I built the forms for the front sidewalks and patio area. The sidewalks will curve gently around the planters. They stop short of the front gate to allow the train tracks to cross on their way around the yard.

Tuesday, our concrete man will place the concrete and this will finish off the front deck, carport and front sidewalks. 

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After a few days of curing I will apply the sealer. Then I can measure up the trim around the front door. and put it into production. Final landscaping of this area will polish the entry off. Then we'll work our way around the back of the house to finish off those areas next. Stay tuned...

-grampa dan

Not straight or narrow.

As the last details are added to the front of the house it was time to start getting serious about the first stages of the landscaping. The final grades were first established and then we dug in the planter areas. No straight lines were allowed.

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Once the edges were established we carefully placed the bark mulch. It sure cleaned things up in a hurry! The ginat trees looked like they had been growing there forever.

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The concrete sidewalks, patio and carport and paved driveway will wait until spring to allow everything to properly settle. While we may put in a few of the major shrubs in the next weeks, much of the planting will wait until spring as well. In the meantime the weeds are gone and things look a whole lot neater.

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It's looking less and less like a construction zone all the time and it sure feels good!

-grampa dan

First landscape

Back when we bought our small acreage, a little over ten years ago it was basically flat, and sloping very gently to the rear. We were determined to fix that. The driveway and shop parking lot were the first to be put in. We piled the original soil down the center of the property and hauled in what seemed like endless loads of gravel for under the shop, parking lot and the long driveway all the way out to the road - four hundred feet in total length. After the shop was built we shaped it to become a long sloping ridge. In the next five years we became collectors of good fil, every time somene built in the area. We knew when we built the municipality would require us to have the floor level four feet higher than the road because we were in a flood plain. 

When the time came to build we piled this soil to the side and then hauled in another thousand cubic yards of gravel to raise the house. In the last weeks the soil (and another forty loads of fill) was leveled out and shaped to extend the hill that started at the shop all the way to the house. Last summer we relocated a number of the trees to extend along the top of the newly formed hill. Friday we did the last of the raking and then Phoebe and I pushed the grass seeder back and forth to sprinkle the seed.

Today as I mowed the remnants of the old lawn I couldn't stand the look of the neglected landscaping, especially the ratty looking bark mulch round the trees. I went to the tool rack and dug out the lawn edger and set to work. By supper things were looking satisfactory once more around at least a couple of the trees.

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Now the landscaping fun begns for real. Stay tuned...

-grampa dan

Closing in on the finish

Today Peter and the crew made great progress on the plasterwork on the house, finishing off the back walls and one of the two remaining tres as well. Only the window sills and the back wall of the lawnmower room remain. It is looking fabulous! 

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Janis had requested hearts be hidden in the tree (which did happen) as well as a feature heart with J+D just for fun.

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With the return of cooler temperatures and a little rain it was time to seed the lawn at last. It is just a quick pass with final grading and overseeding to come after we put in the sidewalks. We put in the gravel for under the sidewalk and decided where all of the fencing is going to go. It's going to be nice to see gren lawns instead of the bare dirt we've been looking at for so long during construction.

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Inside the tile work is done save for a few tiles in the entrance. Those are waiting on the finish carpenter who is waiting on some custom routing by me. That is also being done today. By tomorrow nonn I'll be ready for him. He is suposed to come next week which means paint will follow after that, then the last few tiles...  and then...  then we are DONE!

-grampa dan

Ready... Set... GONE!

Ten years ago we bought our property because it was perfect. The small acreage was close to town and at the edge of the small business district. It was on a busy road (desired) and best of all it had an adequate house on the property that was livable for the short term. The house wasn't so nice that we wanted to keep it for the long term. We painted the inside, put some carpet in areas that needed it, upgraded the wiring as required by code, and made lots of small repairs (including half of a new roof) to keep the house habitable.

I being the eternal optimist promised Janis that I would build her our dream house in two - five years. Janis, the realist, figured five - seven years was a little more realistic. As usual she was right. 

It was eight and a half years before I finally applied for a building permit for the new house. The city officials wouldn't give me one unless I took out a demolition permit for the old one at the same time. I choked a bit on the fee but was happy to oblige.

Three days ago everything was finally out of the old house. We and all of our family, neighbors and friends had salvaged everything we could. A lot of other things went out to the road with a giant free sign. It all disappeared - including the free sign. We moved fences to allow room to get at the large piles of soil that would fill the hole afterwards. Our friend Len, brought his giant excavator to the property and the long awaited destruction of the house was set to begin. On Tuesday mornng neighbors, family and crew gathered to watch at a safe distance.

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With the new house so close (the roofs actually overlapped) it called for destruction with a plan. Len peeled layer after layer off the back of the house and then toppled the last remaining walls and roof into the pile. The old house was down without even a scratch to the new one.

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In less than an hour nothing of the old house was left standing. It was just a huge pile of rubble. The bits were then loaded into a series of large bins and hauled away to a sorting yard for salvage, recycling and chipping. The foundation was next. Because there was no rebar in the old house foundation, the concrete was taken to a gravel pit for grinding and recycling as well. Seven hours after we started nothing was left of the old house except the hole which had to stay empty until the inspection by the city officials the next day. For the first time since the building project was begun we could see the new house from the rear.

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Yesterday it was time to begin the backfill and shaping of the yard. Aother twenty truckloads were hauled in to make sure there was enough fill to get the contours we wanted. The new house was four feet higher than the original grade. Our plan was to literally build a giant hill around the new house so it looked like it grew there instead of poking way out of the ground. Once the grading was done it was obvious our plan had worked our pretty well. 

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Were we sad to see the old house go? NOT A BIT! In a few days it will be hard to remember it was ever there and we are OK with that!

-grampa dan

Spring mountain view

In the last couple of weeks the trees have been greening up once more. Vedder Mountain which is to the south of our property is wonderful to watch as the trees gain their leaves. With an elevation difference of almost 3000 feet the last of the snow is still on top and at the bottom the leaves are on the trees. The wave of bright green slowly rises each day.

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This picture looking south towards our shop was taken from the porch of our old house and will be the view from the kitchen/dining room of the new one. The view is currently blocked by the old house which is only four feet behind the new one - but not for long. As soon as the old house is gone we will re-shape the yard, realign the fencing and begin the landscaping process. I can hardly wait!

-grampa dan

A quiet house this will be.

As we begin work on the inside with the strapping of the ceilings in preparation for the plasterwork. But before we can do the parts that curve into the upper walls we have to do a little more insulating. There is plenty of spray foam to keep the moisture and cold at bay on the outside. The insulation we do from here on is is on the inside walls and ceilings to keep the noise inside the individual rooms. We've always insulated each room from every other room to make out houses quiet. This house will be no different. In fact this house will be better for there is now insulation made just for that purpose. I picked up the first load today.

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The two Matthews ( little Matt welds a few hours each week after his regular job) continue work on the fence. They are making good progress on the fence down the side of the house.

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Mellow fall day.

Today was another gorgeous fall day. As I stood on the tiny porch of the old house this afternoon I could see the fall colors starting to show on the mountain. This is the view we will enjoy from the dining room and back patio of the new house. This southern view is why we oriented the house to the rear of the property rather than the front as is normal.

The building in the picture is our workshop, about 300 feet back from the house. In between will be rolling lawn and to the left, the paddocks for our miniature horses. Beyond are farmer's fields and the ever changing mountain view.

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This is a commute which I will enjoy every single day.

-grampa dan

All up hill from here.

Summer came late this year, just as we started in on the inside framing of the house. Since then we've had some of the driest weaher I've seen and it has continued right through the month of September. The weatherman keeps promising rain, but after a short sprinkle or two the sunsine returns again and again. Today was another of those days. I had plenty of shop work lined up but the day was so nice I couldn't stand to work inside.

With the ground still very dry it was the perfect time to do the backfilling at the rear of the house. To do the task I had to cut a road through the massive pile of soil, filling in beside the retaining wall as I worked my way to the top by the house. As the road rose it got wider, flattening out at the top. 

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Once I had the road built I used the tractor to haul the masonry sand which we'll need for finishing  to the rear of the house, packing down the fresh soil I had just moved in the process. While little got done in the shop today plenty of soil and sand got moved. It was a fun day!

-grampa dan

Perfect morning

We've been blessed with the perfect summer to build our new house. Spring was wet and although not enjoyable it was the perfect weather to put in and pack the huge amounts of fill we needed. As we started in on the house the weather turned dry and warm. The summer weather continued into September as well allowing us to finish our work on the outside of the house.

Now the weather is cooling, still nice and warm in the daytime, but not until the morning fog burns off. This morning as I came out to the shop the vista was surreal with the fog obscuring the bottom of the mountain. The sky was clear and blue.  I snapped this picture from my studio deck. 

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This will be the very same view we will get to enjoy from the new house patio in a few short months. It will be living the dream.

-grampa dan

I always have a plan.

Each day when I awake I lay out a mental plan of all the things I will do that day. But each day things happen and it seems to take on a life of it's own. Today was no different.

My plan was to sand the edges and detail the vertical trim pieces in preparation for the paint and glazes that would follow. Before I had gotten through the first couple of pieces I was called to the house to answer some questions about the installation of the windows. Then my phone rang and I was asked if I could use a load of concrete that was left over from another job. The price was right, but it meant all plans were on hold. We would fill in the concrete block retaining walls. Steel for fence posts needed cutting and everything needed to be checked in readiness for the sudden concrete pour. We would use the tractor to do the task. The concrete truck was on the way. That project lasted until one o'clock.

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The afternoon went by in a flash with a meeting, phone calls, and running for needed parts. The carpenters finished putting in the first batch of Innotech windows and doors. They look fabulous andoperate smoothly. The house is instantly a whole lot quieter - even with a few windows missing.

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My lunch and supper were combined. After eating I headed back to the shop to finish what I had started first thing this morning.

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Tomorrow when I wake up I think out a new plan and just maybe I'll pull it off. But first I'll have to finish off what I planned to do today.

-grampa dan

Cruising the right of way.

Back when we first started planning where everything would go on our small acreage I asked for a 'right of way' around the property edge. This path was to be nine feet wide. By the animal paddocks there is a double fence, one on the property line and another nine feet inside. The double fencing provides security and peace of mind should the horses or the goat somehow get through the first fence. The 'right of way' also serves another very important purpose of course. Our (my) plan was to build a train track (15" guage) around the property and run a 'grampa train' there someday. I've long believed every grampa should have an electric railroad to share with their grand children. Ours just happens to be a little larger scale.

I started work on the rail road about eight years ago. Progress has been slow, especially when I am super busy, as it is a hobby and so takes a back seat to many other priorities. But over the years I've managed to almost complete the engine and two cars. The track stretches about two hundred feet from the shop so far, waiting for the house to be completed before carrying on. The final track layout was to be determined by the size and placement of the house which is now in place at last.

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One of the things Phoebe and I enjoy doing is cruising the right of way in our old golf cart or the little tractor. Along the way we pick leaves to feed the goat, or say hi to all the horses. I also use the time to survey the property, dreaming and planning where everything will eventually go. 


Today, for the first time since the house was started, the path was open all the way around the property. We had a great time cruising around and around for the longest while. It was a LOT more fun than working! :)

-grampa dan

Another moves on

Today I returned from my trip to Vancouver Island. I of course took a look around to see what my crew had done in my absence. They had accomplished a lot - as I knew they would. The painting on the porch was almost done, a few more hours before the rock work is ready for speckles. The front wall was complete, the beams done, the tree glazing almost completed, and a lot of painting done around the back as well. The house was looking great!

Out front, little Matt had completed the front fence and with the help of big Matt had gone twice as far with the side fence as I had imagined possible. Amazingly, they had done the work in only one day.

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More would have been done, but Wednesday was the last day little Matt was to work for us on a regular basis. Two weeks ago a friend of mine dropped by, an owner of a welding and fabrication shop. He by chance was looking for a welder to hire and Matt who was with us to complete his hours for his welding ticket was looking for a permanent job. While I would happily keep Matt on for a while longer, I also am extremely happy to see him move on to a more permanent job, one where he can continue to grow his skills.

Thank you for your diligent and precise work on our project Matt!

-grampa dan

Filling in the holes

There are so many steps to each project we do. With the house it seems to be all that times a hundred. Tonight my good neighbor Gord put my tractor back together (once more) and I hopped on to do some backfilling I've been itching to do for a while. I'll have to grab some more soil to finish the job but I got a good start on things before it got dark.

The large trees in front became instantly rooted in the ground as I gingerly pushed the dirt around the base of the giants. There's still plenty of hand work to get everything nice and even but they look pretty cool already.

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I also took care of the pile of soll that was dug up by the tree mover when we relocated the maple tree a few weeks ago. I filled in the area next to the house. Piles that looked massive instantly disappeared as I filled in the holes.

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Step by step things are being done.

-grampa dan

Got mail?

So many people stop these days to take a look at the new house. As the color goes on it gets ever more eye catching. The other day there was a couple that stopped on their motorcycles. They seemed to be staying longer than most and as I watched them I could see they were clearly looking for something. I was mowing what was left of the lawn at the time, As I watched them my curiosity eventually got the best of me. I drove over to say hi and see what they were after. It turned out they were scouting for a motorcycle rally - photo scavenger hunt. The event had been scheduled in June but postponed because of rain at the time. It was rescheduled to happen soon and this couple were checking the landmarks that were part of the hunt. They were searching for our mail box, the one with the squirrel on top. I had tucked it away when we started the new house, safe from bumps from machinery and folks carrying long boards. I showed my new friends where I had moved him and promised to pull the piece out from hiding and put him in his new home within the hour. The rooster was moved across the driveway to it's permanent home.

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The house continues to recieve it's final coats of paint - a little at a time. With the weather so unseasonably warm it is hard to do the blends and glazes in the heat of the afternoon. Next week promises to be more temperate after a couple of days of rain.

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One by one the pieces are being put into place.

-grampa dan

Playing in the playhouse

While most of the crew are busy working on the painting of the front porch some of us are busy around the back, still doing the sculpted concrete work. Yesterday I laid the last of the concrete blocks for the retaining wall that will determine the slope of the land from the new house to the original ground towards the back of the property. The new level of the property around the house is about five feet higher than the original ground.

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We're also busy applying the fiberglass reinforced concrete to the facia boards. There's only a little more to go before we are done.

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We are also working on Phoebe's playhouse by the back porch. Today we began doing the sculpting, starting at the top and working our way down both inside and out.

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By tomorrow night the playhouse concrete should be done. Stay tuned...

-grampa dan