The phone rang last Friday, it was my husband with an audible sigh. His truck had broken down about 40 minutes south of where we live. The good news is he made it half way home, though the bad news is it ended up costing us over $900 and set us back a full weekend in patio progress. Without a truck to gather materials, we were a bit stuck. Finally, rather late in the day on Sunday we bit the bullet and rented a truck from the local hardware store for $20 an hour. At that point so much time had already been wasted, we didn’t get much completed. Pushing forward to this past weekend, it was nearing 100° F, but we got a lot done. With a touch of dehydration, here is our progress.
Cladding The Retaining Wall
With the wood siding added to the retaining wall, the project looks much more completed. Last Sunday after we were forced to rent our own truck, we picked up the wood siding and were able to get about 30% of the wall faced. This recent weekend however, we finished the wall on all sides, even cutting out the outlet areas and doing the backside. We used T1-11 Wood Panels for the siding, which you can find in almost any major retail store. Generally it is used for sheds and outside building projects. It is rough, but shows the grain of the wood nicely. I hesitated with the roughness and un-polished finish, but it is affordable and should hold up well over time. At a later date we will seal this. Drew used a nail gun with 2 inch nails as suggested by the manufacturer.
Prepping For The Grass
As you may recall we had to excavate a good portion of the hill and move some soil around to make way for the patio. Now it was time to bring in more dirt, we used screened top soil and purchased 10 yards, spending about $400. I feel like this is such a ridiculous thing to spend so much money on. We aren’t even finished with our need for dirt. Dirt alone is going to blow our budget.
When the top soil arrived on Thursday, I took one look and thought, “This isn’t going to be enough,” and then I cried.
Saturday the forecast was calling for it to be a Red Alert kind of day, so we wanted to start moving fast and early. Shoveling one hump of dirt at a time was torture. If there is a hell, and they are handing out horrible jobs to do in unbearable conditions, you can bet that shoveling dirt is that job. Less than an hour in, I knew it would take us more than one weekend to move all the dirt – that is until my neighbor pulls up with a small front loader. Our knight showed up in a t-shirt with the sleeves cut off and a borrowed machine from his buddy. I think my husband and I were equally crushing on our hero. He asked if we needed help, I asked him if he likes smoked ribs, a deal was struck. He saved us so much work, he can eat ribs until he pops and we’ll send him home with extra.
There was still a lot of racking and moving soil to do by hand, but our neighbor moved big piles and spread a lot of it out before returning to his own project. After several hours of racking, shoveling, swearing, sweating, drinking water warmed by the sun, and feeling my underwear stick to my ass, we called it a day around noon. We had a party to go to that wasn’t going to wait for us to arrive and we desperately needed showers.
The next day I was back at “project dirt” and finished racking a few areas I neglected. Drew popped in a stepping stone near the draining pipe to encourage people to step on that, rather than the pipe itself which was burred a few inches down and packed with rock and dirt.
We brought in another yard of dirt and moved that by hand in a few areas that needed it. Then I set to work outlining where a garden would be off the corner of the patio, and spreading grass seed with a seed spreader. I then laid straw over the entire area and started the sprinkler. I was covered in dirt, straw was sticking me in the boob and the butt, and made me itchy from my work boots to my head. I created a nice sticky layer of suntan lotion and sweat for it to all stick to. I was gross, and we had another part to be at that evening. Work hard – play hard. Here is my straw field, which I have already instructed the kids not to walk on. Now let’s see if I can grow grass when it’s this hot outside.
Next up, a flower box (near where you see the wheel-barrow) and back-filling behind the retaining wall. We plan to use natural stone from our land to “tile” the outside of the flower box. Hoping it looks as amazing in person as it does in my head.