Saturday, November 17, 2007

It's Done.

I finally managed to get the last of the stones in place! The never-ending backyard project might not be never-ending! Behold:

Compare that picture to the first one one in this post to get a sense of why I'm so proud of myself.

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When I started work on it earlier today, I was a few bricks short of a full load.

So, the Pillowfight Fairy and I drove up the road to the yard where we had ordered all the stone in the first place. We only needed about fifteen or so of the dark grey ones for the border, but I also picked up some lacquer sealant that we'll use when we're good'n ready. Then after lunch, I managed to put in all the remaining needed stone, which was about the last four feet or so of the patio. This required doing angle cuts on several of the stones to get them to fit.

When I was done, I sprayed down the entire patio (in part to get off all the leaves that were falling on it from our neighbor's Chinese Elm), then went and got the camera.

The following picture shows the patio from the opposite direction (with the Pillowfight Fairy swinging around a cluster of flowers she picked while she was outside):

Now, this shot is from a weird angle. The patio is shaped like a tall, narrow trapezoid: three sides are square to each other, but the fourth is angled to parallel the property line. I took the above picture from the short end of the trapezoid. The far end of the trapezoid is much longer than the near end, but the foreshortening due to perspective tends to obscure this fact.

But check out the angled cuts to all the stones along the right-hand side of the patio in the above picture. See those? I cut every one of them with a hammer and chisel. And no, I don't have a right forearm like Popeye. I'm not entirely sure why that didn't happen, but my right forearm is still normal.

My back, however, is killing me.

So the title of this post refers to the fact that the stones are all in. However, there is still a bunch more stuff to do before the whole project can be considered done. First, I need to rent one of those vibrating tampers to get all the stones as level as possible. Then I need to sweep sand in between all of the stones. This will lock them in place. (And I have already swept sand in between a few of the more loosely-fitting stones, like where I made an uneven cut with hammer and chisel, leaving a gap; the sand really does lock them in place, and makes it look more finished, too.)

After that, the next job will be to apply the sealant. However, this may have to wait until January or so; the problem is that this is fall, and there is a constant precipitation of leaves anywhere near the many deciduous trees that dot the landscape around here. It doesn't take long for the patio or walkways to get covered with the leaves. If I painted all the stones with lacquer-based sealant before the leaf-fall ends, these leaves would become part of the walkway d├ęcor for all time. No--I have to wait until all the leaves are down before doing the sealant.

After the sealant, all that remains is the back-fill. All the edges of the walkway and patio have the black plastic edge barrier currently exposed; it all needs to be covered, and the walkway blended into the landscape. Besides, all the back-fill dirt is sitting in what will be our garden for this coming spring, and I need to get rid of it by February or so or my wife will be quite put out. You can see a little bit of it to the right of the Pillowfight Fairy in this picture:

I rather like this picture. It makes it look as if we live in a tropical paradise.

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One more picture. This has nothing to do with the walkway or patio; I just thought I needed to take a picture of our Red Maple tree:

We got that tree about two-and-a-half years ago. There was a blank spot in our skyline, and we wanted something to fill it--preferably, something that would turn lovely colors in the fall. We found this tree at the nursery. It's a Red Maple, Acer Rubrum, of a variety called October Glory. The tree wasn't in very good shape when we bought it; the leaves looked a little bit sick, there was a gash on the trunk, and all the branches on one side of the tree had been broken off. But it was the only October Glory in stock at the nursery, so we decided to take a chance on it.

Well, it really liked being out of that pot and being in a yard where it was watered all the time, so after a few months to get its roots established, it really started growing. The gash in the trunk is healing quite nicely, and its bare side (which we turned to the south when we planted it) has all kinds of young branches growing out of it now, though the tree will still look a little lopsided for the next few years. And we've discovered that despite its name, the tree is more of a November Glory; it tends to turn very late in the season, probably because we don't usually get frosts that early around here.

But look at that picture, and imagine that tree at its full-grown height: forty feet tall, forty feet across, easily reaching over both of the fences visible in the picture (and blessing our neighbors with its autumn leaves). That thing will be a sight to behold.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Congratulations!! Now you've finished your job (well, except for the tamping and the top coat and the back fill, but who's counting) and I haven't even started on the front walk or fishpond out front. We're still strolling up a lovely walkway of mulch. I think this project may have to wait until Spring. The first step is a vast amount of digging. The last thing I want to do is spend an entire winter (that will include copious amounts of rain, God willing) with a front walk made of mud.