And so it begins for another spring.
During the dry spells over the last few days we spent the time outside spent digging holes in the yard and pulling out old tree stumps. The holes were for the outside lighting on the back patio and next to the driveway. The stumps are in the front yard where there will be a garden.
Yesterday the electrician was here installing the cabling for the lights and connecting them all up.While the electrician was here he also installed the full warning sensor on our septic tank and did a few repairs to the thermostat system that controls the floor heating. The electrician’s bill was already in the mailbox today. I didn’t believe that the post could work that fast.
During the evening after work yesterday we set the lights in place and filled in the holes. Everything seemed quite vertical at the end, hopefully they will stay that way.
So now around the back there are two lights along the end of the patio. The edges where the cabling is buried still needs tidied up and grass sown.
Sometime in the next couple of days a truckload of dirt will arrive. That should be enough to get the flower garden started and cover over the worst of the rough ground out front. The two lights are mounted along the two ends of where the garden will go. The rest of the area will be covered with dirt and some grass sown there to fill in between the trees. Eventually there will probably be some sort of path and steps up the right to near the top of the driveway. Hopefully in winter it will be a bit better than sliding down an icey driveway. Along the edge will be some brickwork like there is starting from the rubbish hut. Those need to be ordered soon as well.
No so much going on with the house or garden at the moment.
A few weeks ago we picked up some more plants for the flower garden, but apart from that there hasn’t been much to do, just clean up a few things and watch the grass bake in the sun.
The summer has been extremely dry and hot. The official rainfall figure for July was 3mm, but really we haven’t had anything significant since late June till now. During the whole time it has rained enough to wet the ground about three times that I can remember. The daily temperature this period has been at least the low 20’s, but for most of July it was regularly much hotter in our yard.
The lawn dried up several weeks ago and the ground is baked solid. Mostly all that is growing now are the weeds. I have only had to cut the grass twice this summer and that was just to keep the weeds down. The vege garden needs constant watering to keep going, but we have already lost our radishes. The carrots look a bit small still, so they are probably affected by the lack of water too. The fruit trees also need to be watered every few days and it seems that the pear sapling is suffering quite a lot.
The garden has generally survived though and the pumpkins and courgettes are growing wildly as are the gherkins. The carrots and parsnips we will have to wait and see.
The garden and the patio are both mostly done now.
We finished off laying the paving stones a couple of weeks ago and last week put in the wood surround. A week ago we got the first of the plants for the garden and today we picked up a few more plants and have now filled in most of the garden. Picked up a few bags of sand for between the paving stones. Managed to get about 2/3rds of the patio done today. Last weekend also started filling in around the edges of the patio with dirt to bring up the grass level a bit.
We also installed an irrigation hose just under the surface since it is such a dry, hot, location. I think most years it will be quite hot there. I guess this summer is quite normal for here, if a little drier than normal. We have had 25+ degrees daily now for a few weeks and barely a sign of any rain. The grass is looking a bit bare and dead in places as well.
Last week, we started on the edging of the driveway with the leftover bricks from the garden wall. Looks quite good for a start, but needs a few more bricks to finish the whole edge.
Lots of work since the last entry. As I mentioned last time we had just got the sand (crushed rock actually) for the back patio. A few days after that we started leveling the area where the paving stones should go.
The amount of sand that went in at first had me wondering if we would run out before the whole thing was done. But it wasn’t necessary to put it in so thick everywhere. I had planned that it would be about 5cm thick over about 47 square metres and that turned out to be a pretty good estimate. Laying the stones was pretty nasty work, much harder than we thought and it seemed to go on for days. Carting them around the house in the wheelbarrow took long enough, but it also turns out that the paving stones are up to 5mm or more different in height. So it didn’t matter how level or smooth the sand was, many stones had to be individually set to get some sort of smooth surface.
So it was slow going for most of it. But the more that went in the better it looked.
Just as well really, cos we were getting pretty sick of laying those stones… That first weekend it was nearly 30 in our yard and we both had a head cold. The rest of the week it went down in bits and pieces.
This weekend we had visitors. Pia’s parents were here and gave us a hand with carrying the paving stones around. With the extra help the last part of the patio went down quite fast. Next up after that was the garden. The brickwork for the garden went up quite quickly, just an hour for the basic walls. But that dirt took a while. There is something like 7 cubic metres of dirt in there, or about 50 wheelbarrow loads. With Risto helping we managed to just under half fill it on Saturday. Sunday we had a bit of a rest, but after Risto and Lea went back home we managed another few wheelbarrow loads more to get just over half full.
Tonight after work we did another few hours and filled the whole thing and also finished off the brickwork.
Now we should buy some plants to put in it.
The bricks I mentioned last time arrived the other day and today we got about 3 cubic metres of sand as well.
There were two types of bricks, one for the raised garden and the others are paving stones for the patio. The brick for the garden are joined together in pairs and must be cracked in half to make the rough front face. I’m certain that the guy at the cement works where we ordered the bricks miscalculated the amount when I gave him the measurements. But we should have enough brick for at least one of the gardens we planned. The other one will probably have to wait a while. There seems to be plenty of the paving stones on the other hand, so hopefully we have enough of them.
We had a bit of help during the weekend, with Pia’s brother and his flatmate visiting. Unfortunately we didn’t have the sand yet, so doing the patio was out of the question. But we did get all the garden bricks split in half. They also cleared the small willow and birch trees growing around the driveway and helped plant our new fruit trees. The front looks a bit naked at the moment, but definitely a lot tidier. They also helped put the concrete ring and lid around the well head.
To plant the fruit trees we had to clear away some of the birch trees that were growing in the yard. We had tried to save several around the house when doing the building, but several of them had either died or were getting that way. Probably it was the increased ground level around the house that did it. But anyway, we cut them down and turned them all into firewood and mulched up all the branches. The holes for the fruit trees provided the dirt and grass to fill in the other holes. So the end result is that the yard looks a bit strange now and the fruit trees look tiny. It’ll probably be a few years before we get anything off them. That’s if the wildlife doesn’t eat them first.
Well, I don’t know if this counts as a entry for the house, but it is close enough.
We finally have our vege garden in. Might be a bit late for a couple of things, but the rest should be fine. Hopefully we will be picking radishes in just a few weeks. Had to build a rough fence around it to keep the local wildlife out as well. Hopefully it is up to the job!
Also we picked up some fruit trees a couple of weekends ago and those should be planted quite soon as well. Some of the original birch trees have died due to the new soil around them and we will take those out and replace them with the fruit trees. We three different kinds of apples, pear, cherry, and plum trees. Probably a few years before we get much from them though. That’s if the deer and rabbits don’t get them first though.
Ordered the brickwork for the back patio and raised garden last weekend too. They won’t arrive for another week or so yet though. Once they are in that means most of the backyard would be finished. Next there is just the side of the house and the driveway, but at least the driveway will probably be another year or so.
One of our previous additions has a new occupant as well now.
Both front and back terraces are now finished. The back one was finished first as I mentioned last time, but we had to pick up more wood to finish the front one. That was done a couple of weeks ago and the back one given its coat of oil stain. The front one we only just got oiled this weekend and it has dried nicely now. The stain is untinted and it turned the wood very golden brown. It literally glows in the sunlight.
It is May Day today and luckily it falls on a Monday this year, so a long weekend. Weather was pretty good as well, sunny and warm, but a bit windy. So most of the weekend was taken up with outside jobs (and BBQs :-).
Down the back of the section there are a bunch of willow trees going nuts and they have spread out into a giant bush. I took our old chainsaw to one on Saturday, but I run out of oil for the chainsaw before I could get through even one of the trees. After the attack there was a good sized pile of wood, branches and twigs. Cutting that all up with the chainsaw is going to be painful to say the least and by hand it will take all week. So probably Tuesday we pick up one of the Black and Decker Alligator electric chainsaws. It should handle even the larger branches okay without the hassle of the ordinary chainsaw. Then I can chop it all up to firewood size while I am cutting down the trees. The only problem after that is what do we do with the stumps. They aren’t nice clean ones, but a mess of branches sticking out all directions and the roots spread out with new trees sprouting from those. Easiest thing might be just to chop back any new growth and let them rot. We are keeping the back section in sort of forest/semi wild anyway, so it should be okay.
Last thing on the agenda today was putting up the last of the downpipes at the corner of the house. We had ordered the parts a few months ago and they were sitting in the storage room. So at least there is a little more space now.
Now that the snow is going we started doing some more work on the house. First order of business was the front and back terraces.
The plan was to put down tanalised wood and then cover that with the planks of heat-treated wood. We had checked last autumn the prices and sizes, etc and I had made a rough plan of what we needed. The weekend before Easter there was a large home and garden show in town and there we grabbed more material on the woods and checked out a few more details. The heat-treated wood looks very nice. It is baked to over 200 degrees which gives it similar rot-resistance as other treated woods, but no chemicals. It goes dark brown during the baking and becomes quite light. A similar plan is a fraction of the weight of one of the same sized tanalised planks.
So the week before Easter I made detailed plans on the amounts we needed and what other bits and pieces. And then we went to order it. That started the first problem. I had calculated how many planks we needed, but the shop only orders it by the metre. So converted the plank lengths to metres and ordered that. It was delivered in time for the weekend, which was good. But the length of all the planks was 60cm shorter than all those we had seen during autumn, which was bad.
A quick change to all the plans (most useful thing I have ever used MS Visio for 🙂 and we started work on the back terrace. It wasn’t exactly the way we originally wanted, but it seems to have worked okay. The main deck is done with the tanalised wood directly on the concrete and the heat-treated wood screwed to that. We gave the heat treated planks a quick coat of oil treatment on the bottom to protect them a bit more before screwing them down and will do the top later when we are finished everything.
Progress so far is that the back is almost complete. A few screws missing still. And the surround around the concrete edge has to be done yet. But that involves drilling lots of holes in the concrete for the support bolts. The front terrace didn’t quite get done. We run out of planks with a row short. So will have to pick some more heat-treated wood up this week.
Once it is all done I’ll put up some photos, but here is one of the work in progress on Saturday with some of the oil stain drying on some of the planks. The back deck is done, but under those drying planks. Hard to believe, but on Friday it was about 10 air temp and in the sun it was much, much hotter. Unfortunately by late afternoon the sun was gone again and didn’t really come back all Easter weekend.
Not much happening at the moment. Just getting prepared for winter.
Did a couple of things around the yard and finally added the gravel around the foundations. That was worth a good part of a day last weekend. Still a bit in the pile left over, so might use that to cover the car-port.
Still arguing with the earthmoving company over the sump covers and sewage tank lid. Its gone to the boss of the company now and he wasn’t supposed to have been very happy about it, so have to wait again and see if anything happens.
The grass was still growing a bit up to a couple of weeks ago, but the frosts have hit now, so that put a stop to that. And today we got about 10cm of snow, so that might be the last we see of it for a while.
These two are from the 6th and the 20th.
Had to cut the lawn again the other day! Hopefully that is the last time for this year though. Got the mower and all the bikes in the shed now. Would like to still fit a few more things in there, but might be a bit difficult. Not sure what I can leave out in the cold for winter as well.
Got our clothes line last weekend too. It is made as two frames with line in between and a bar/platform at one end that you can hang mats on to beat them. Put it up at the end of the house and concreted it in. Concrete seems to have set now quite well, so obviously hand mixing it in the wheelbarrow went okay.
In other news we were expecting the earthmoving company to install the concrete rings around the sewage tank lid, etc. But when we came home on Monday they had done something completely different! Installed one steel lid on the sump cover by the carport and covered the two open air pipes on the house sewage and waste water pipes. Haven’t heard anything more from them, but they better not think that they have finished now!