Sunday, August 3, 2008

Introducing the Next Backyard Project

Well, we decided that things had been a little too quiet around here lately.

[Insert sound of record scratching....]

Well, we decided that summer was wearing on, and there were some projects we needed to finish up in the backyard before the rainy season starts. So on Friday, we ordered twelve cubic yards of cedar bark.

Why so much? Well, we did a simple calculation: get a sense of the surface area that we want covered, multiply by three inches deep, convert your units properly (very important!), and pray that you didn't carry the two into the wrong column, or you'll wind up with enough bark to fill your yard up to your knees. Tonya's initial calculation would have done just that, by the way; it was high by at least a factor of three.

It was delivered on Saturday in a decent sized dump truck. Trouble is, the dump truck was too big to fit back into our RV pad; there's a roof overhang that just gets in the way. So we had the truck dump the stuff right in the middle of our driveway (and yes, we did think to move our cars out of the way first).

And then I started moving it. One... wheelbarrow-full... at... a... time....

My daughters had been watching a VeggieTales video earlier in the day. So when the Pillowfight Fairy came out and saw what I was doing, she remembered the moral message of the video and helpfully pointed out: "You need to use Perseverance."

No kidding. Ya think?

So what does twelve cubic yards look like? Well, this is slightly less than that:
That is not, as it would appear, a slightly obese Horta. That is my load of cedar chips, after I'd spent a good three or four hours (in hundred-five-degree heat) moving it, one barrow at a time, up our driveway. I had used Perseverence! And as a reward for exhibiting this virtue, by the time I was done I had an intensely crimson sunburn on both arms and my neck, I was covered with grit, dust, and sweat, my back and arms hurt (they still do), and my boogers were jet black.

Whoever said virtue is its own reward? ;-)

...

So, what are we going to do with this stuff?

Well, when we're done, much of our backyard planter areas will look something like this:
Under all that, Tonya first laid out some water-permeable ground-cloth, which hopefully will keep the weeds from getting too established. Then I dumped several loads of bark on it, and Tonya and the Fairy spread it out with rakes. The Fairy was being about as helpful as a five-year old can be; which is to say, the bark was getting shifted into big lumpy mounds. It probably would have been quicker for Mommy to do the raking by herself. But her help was still appreciated. We like getting the kids involved in work like this; the more we do it, the sooner we'll get to the point where the kids' help is actually helpful.

...

Of course, it was at this point that we discovered that the bark is much, much dirtier than the underlying, um... dirt. The moment the kids discovered the changes to their backyard, they were all over the stuff, and they came back inside a little later looking like coal miners. We suspect that it'll take a few good rainstorms to come along and wash the dust down to the ground, before the kids can play on it for three minutes without earning an automatic bath. And that big glandular Horta on the RV pad is just too much temptation to resist for anyone under the age of ten (and for a whole bunch of us above the age of ten too, I might add).

But it's a good kind of dirty.

And our backyard now smells like a cedar forest floor. I'll bet heaven smells like this. Without all that dust, of course. Or the black boogers....

1 comment:

Arby said...

My uncle ordered a ton of #10 size stone to spread over the dying lawn of his New Mexico home before selling it. A ton of #6 size stone was delivered to his driveway. He took an entire day to move the gravel, wheelbarrow load by wheelbarrow load, and then called the company to tell them of their mistake. They delivered a ton of #10 stone, and he took another day to move it to his backyard. He lost 1o pounds over the course of that weekend. When buyers decided they wanted his house one week later, they submitted a bid with a request that the stone be removed and replaced by grass. My uncle looked at the realtor and dropped the F-bomb followed by "You." "I beg your pardon?" the woman said. "You heard me," he replied. The buyers enjoyed their rock garden for years.