Friday, May 27, 2016

The Grass is Greener

This blog runs the risk of turning into a weather report at the rate we're going but DC continues to tally a record number of days of rain. wasn't the best timing to try to landscape our front yard!  Nevertheless, we've made some good, if rather soggy, progress recently and the recent sunshine is helping a great deal.  We graded the yard, installed a sprinkler system, and put sod in.  Installing sod continues to be one of my favorite projects because it's such an instant improvement.  We still have a lot of work to do, including finishing planting some additional trees, grasses, and flowers, and cutting in and mulching the flower beds, so it certainly isn't done yet but it already looks so much better!  So, without further ado, the pictures...

Getting started - grading with the bobcat

Pallets of sod lurking in the corner, awaiting installation
Adding water lines for the sprinklers

And more lines

Including two main lines for the two zones

Building a base for the sprinkler system in the basement
Plumbing fun

And more
Now we're up and running!
Outdoors again - sod in!  Still need to cut in the mulch beds and add mulch but this is starting to look a lot better!

Now if only the rain would stop and the sun would come out, we could get these remaining trees/shrubs planted...

From the other side

And corner of the lot

Monday, May 16, 2016

Walk this way to your banquette for two

We continue to be delayed by rain around here, with something like 15 consecutive days of rainfall in the D.C. area.  And the yard is...not great as a result.  Thank goodness for mulch and hay to hold the mud in place!  But we did manage to get one outdoor project done in between storms and we moved inside to a kitchen project while we wait (and hope) for the weather to clear.  Outdoors, we installed the bluestone walkway so we can finally welcome guests to the front door.  This was one of the rare projects that went relatively smoothly - the hard work was in figuring out the slope to pour the concrete initially.  It did take a bit of effort to lay the stones flat and work with the slope but fortunately, Brian is now a pro at laying stone and tile of all types, so he was able to build up the mortar as necessary.  And we had a chance to see how it performed right away as it started raining pretty much as soon as we finished and so far, no puddles or pooling anywhere.

We finally got some sunshine this weekend but unfortunately, it wasn't enough to sufficiently dry out the yard yet so grading and sod installation remains on hold.  In the meantime, we moved indoors to build a banquette for the kitchen.  We still have a lot of trim and other finish work in the kitchen but it's starting to look more and more finished every day!  Pictures below...

Getting started - it made it a lot easier to have the bobcat carry the pallet of stone around!
Stones laid out to make sure the pattern fit and starting to mortar them in at the end

Moving up the walkway

This was the trickiest part because of the way it sloped away and down

 And onto the kitchen...

Here's the space for the banquette, between the built-in cabinets

A little prep work goes a long way - priming the 3/4" ply sheets before we began cutting

Building the base boxes - these are 17" high (which never looks high enough to me but always feels right when it's done), plus it'll have another 3/4" ply on top and then a cushion.  We added a middle support for stability and echoed the toe kick of the cabinets so it would all match

Interior of the boxes - we'll trim these out and leave them for storage

Adding trim - we used 1/2" MDF ripped to 3 1/2" to match the window trim

Adding the seat

With cut-outs for the storage bins

Still need the piano hinges (on order) but this is basically how it will look when assembled

Moving up to the back - we wanted the back to have a slight slope for comfort so tapered it from 3/4" off the wall (so it would line with the window trim) to 5" at the seat

And nearly done!  Still needs putty, caulk, paint and cushions but design and construction is finished.  Next up, buy (or Brian might build) a table, install a light fixture, and start using this space more regularly!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Rock Solid Landscaping

We're solidly in the "spring showers" part of spring and it's been impeding some of our work on the front yard...but we're actually making decent progress nonetheless.  By "we," though, I should specify that the lion's share of this work was done by Brian and his friend Tim, as I took the weekend off to head up to see family in Burlington, VT (and was struck, again, by how far behind New England is from DC weather-wise - here, everything is budding and green; there, it's still coooold).  Tim's strength is second only to the bobcat so he was very helpful when it came to moving around boulders and planting large trees - and we owe him a huge thanks for coming down to help out!

We still have a couple weekends worth of work even if we get some unbroken sunshine as there's quite a bit of grading to do, sod to plant, and, eventually, flower beds to add in.  But, on the good news, the boulder wall is just about done (with the exception of mulch to add) and we've planted a number of the trees so hopefully they will get established and start growing.  Pictures from last weekend and before below:

Laying out the rest of the rocks and the trees.  We have three heritage birch trees and a dogwood on the corner

Nothing planted yet but rocks in place

Now with burning bushes in place in between the birches

This is starting to look a little better - birches planted and bushes in place.  Still need more mulch to cover the rest of the boulder wall.
And now with dogwood planted in the corner, along with some maiden grasses.  We've also started adding phlox, japanese juniper, and blue spruce between the boulders.

Moving along!  Still need to plant the evergreens on the left hand side and add mulch on the right but it's all starting to come together!