I know I've been blabbing about my huge rock project for quite some time, but I have good news: I'm (almost) done!!! It has only taken me about 8 months (with a huge recess in the summer months because of Virginia's endearingly nasty muggy weather) but I'm finally about to check it off my list of things to do. Except I have run out of rocks. Again. The current count is over 8 pallets of stone, and I still don't have enough to complete a walkway along one side of the house, and a low retaining wall in the front of the house.
Yes, those rocks are heavy...I had to "walk" the big slabs very slowly and carefully down the hill. I had to enlist Steve's help (plus a hand truck) for a few of the gargantuan ones on the patio on the upper deck, but the stones you see in the photo above were all dragged/coaxed/hefted by moi.
So now I'm wondering, why on earth are my upper arms still flabby and squishy? The joys of being nearly 40, I guess (sigh). Oh - and I'm sure the overdose of Halloween candy didn't help. Or the upcoming Holiday season. I wonder if I will ever make it through December without gaining weight? Nah. I'll spare everyone the agony of having to be around me on a diet in the midst of edible decadence. It's not fun for anybody, trust me, which is why I haven't tried it in years.
This has consumed more of my spare time than any other project has since, well, since I can remember. Not that I didn't enjoy it, mind you, but I have much more than "Play with Rocks" on my To-Do list, as anyone who knows me can tell you! Take raking leaves, for example. Clearly that has been pushed into the non-emergent column until I get these durn rocks taken care of. I severely underestimated the time it would take transform our backyard from this...
Disclaimer: we hired a contractor to bring his posse in and install the giant cinderblock wall, and Steve used his brawn and precision skills to create the stairs on the other side of the retaining wall using leftover cinderblocks. Because I wasn't in any mood to heft 70 pound chunks of cement around, not to mention install them perfectly level and aligned with eachother. It's just not my thing.
Actually, it's not Steve's thing either, but it's also not our thing to fork out umpteen hundreds of dollars to hire someone else to do it. So the block stairs became Steve's project.
Didn't he do a great job?
It was quite a challenge to get them all aligned and half buried in the compacted dirt behind each successive step so that the rise is exactly 8 inches. Which is why I didn't even attempt those stairs, because that amount of precision just wouldn't be happening...which is why Steve acknowledged that he had to be the one to do it, despite his intense aversion to such tasks. Thanks for persevering, honey, so I could finish building the retaining wall that holds the patio up!
I'm much more of a take-it-as-it-comes, improvise as I go along type of gal. Measuring? What's that?
Well, despite the inevitable imperfections in my random flagstone and wallstone (ie the fact that MY stairs range in height from 8" to oh, about 12"...but hey - the material I was working with was highly irregular, okay? Plus I had to make my stairs steep to get up that hill fast enough before the patio started), I think it's safe to say that it's a big improvement over this.
I learned my lesson on this one and made it nice and low. Besides, that's the height it had to be to meet up with the rest of the patio. See? I AM capable of making a low step.
If any of you out there are thinking about installing a random flagstone patio with stone that ranges in thickness by several inches and the stones have all sorts of concave, convex, and twisty surfaces, STOP! Unless you want to spend more hours than you ever dreamed of digging, pounding, shifting, readjusting, and pulling your hair out. And going a leeeetle bit crazy while you're at it. Let's just say that doing this patio was much, much, much more challenging than building rock walls. It has taken me FOR*E*VER (you know that kid on The Sandlot who says FOR-E-VERRR! with the flashlight up in his face? Yeah, say it like that).
Here's the other side of the house. I think I've shown you pictures of the retaining walls I built for our terraced garden before. Minus all the neglected leaves on the ground.
Ah, the beloved remnants of the koi pond-gone-stagnant with dead turtles, no fish, and plenty of mosquito larvae. The one that Hyrum fell into, remember? Good memories, good times.
At this point the garden is home to a lot of dead stuff, some rotting Halloween pumpkins, and my sturdy row of carrots which are very fat and very, very, very short. I guess I need to do a better job of amending the soil next year. This poor pathway continues to get blasted by erosion whenever a storm hits. I'm close to ripping it out and making some more steps to hinder the speed of the water racing down the hill, but I just can't think about that right now. Maybe next year.
Okay, enough documentation...I guess I'd better figure out where and when I'm going to get the rest of my rocks. But maybe I should rake the leaves first.