Monday, April 18, 2016

Concrete changes

Notwithstanding our brief, recent foray back into winter around here (complete with snow flurries after a week of 70+ degree weather, at which point I nearly packed up and moved further south), we've been making a good deal of progress on outdoor work.  We've been tackling the front yard, taking out the old concrete pathway and pouring concrete for a new bluestone walk and, more recently, starting to install our boulders to follow the natural rise of the front yard.

It's been a big project, made bigger by an initial miscalculation on how much concrete it would take to pour the base for the new walkway.  We didn't even look into ordering a truck of concrete, thinking that a relatively shallow base for a relatively short walkway couldn't take that much concrete and so we would just buy bags and mix it ourselves.  This plan seemed to make a lot of sense - right until we went through the first, oh, dozen bags and realized we had barely made a dent.  Last weekend, we went through all 25 80-lb bags we had on hand.  So, on Monday evening, it was back to Home Depot to load up (in two trips) on 45 more bags.  And Tuesday night, we spent a couple of quality hours mixing and pouring to finish the walk...which took a total of 64 bags of concrete.  Lesson learned - next time, concrete truck!

This past weekend, we started tackling the install of the boulder wall in the front yard.  Since our house is on a relatively busy street, we wanted to have a distinct visual break between the road and our house.  We thought about building an actual wall out front but decided to go with the easier and more natural looking option of adding some boulders, trees, and other landscaping.  The land naturally slopes into a bit of a berm at the front anyway, so we only needed to add some nice big boulders to it to provide more of a break.  It's still very much a work in progress but over the next two weekends, we should be close to finishing it up, adding trees, sod, flowers, and grasses...and installing the stone on the walkway.  At that point (if all goes as planned - never a guarantee with big projects!) the somewhat rough current look should be transformed into a much more polished appearance.  But, it bears noting that none of this would be possible without the bobcat - as we often say around here, the bobcat is the best cat!  Many pictures below.

Removing the old walkway - easy work with a bobcat!
One by one, picking up the old pieces and stacking them for removal
Moving right along

Making piles of old concrete pad
Smoothing out the yard for the new walkway
Leveling the pad
More bobcatting
And cleaning up the yard
Getting started with the new pathway - smoothing the ground and marking everything out with string lines
Forms are up and starting the pour - this was the end of the first day, when we realized that 25 bags of concrete did not go nearly as far as we thought they would
That's better!  The after picture, once we finished the concrete and took the forms off
Hello materials!  Four pallets of boulders and a shipment of fill dirt.  Ready to get started now!
Definitely could not move these by hand.  Go bobcat go! 
Getting started on the far side of the front yard as we move the first boulders into place
And moving across the yard, adding the rocks
We didn't do a great job with taking pictures as we went but after a long day of work, we're roughly two thirds of the way across the yard, with some mulch in to hold down the dirt
Still lots of work to go but it's starting to come together!