Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Make Over the Front Yard

So.  The new driveway is the beginning of our front yard makeover.  We are so happy about this project beginning!!  When we first bought the house, it looked like this:

Sigh.  The lawn actually looks better in this "before" picture than it does now.  With all of the heavy machinery for pouring the concrete, rehabilitating the flagpole, and having a yard waste dumpster delivered onto the lawn, we've torn it up pretty badly.  But this is all part of the plan.

All summer I have hand watered this lawn because the minimal sprinkler system has a leak in it.  Somewhere.  In July Jon and I (sometimes with help from our devoted 9 year old son) tore out the flagstone planters (long and low stone boxes for outdoor planting).  One was 23' long (can't see it too well here but it is below the two windows with the window boxes), and the other was about 4' long (off of the right side of the garage).  We knew we needed them out in time for the concrete driveway, patio, and front door stoop to be installed/poured

In August, we kept talking with the contractor that we ended up hiring for the driveway, and they kept putting off the date to come and get the job done.  We went on vacation.  We got ready for school.  Still no driveway.  Any day now.

The first day of school arrives, and as I am walking my children to their new school, my "bobcat guy"  drives up the street with his dumpster to begin the driveway excavation.  Hurray?

I am excited at first, and rescuing the bricks that he is putting in his dumpster because they came out in such good shape.  I got really hot and sweaty loading and unloading those bricks in and out of my wheelbarrow.  And then the Bobcat Guy hits a water line to our unknown sprinklers.  The main water line gets shut off because we don't have a key for the stop and waste.  I run to Home Depot to get a cap for the water line so that we can turn the water back on.  As I arrive with the cap, thinking that we have solved our only problem for the day, the guy hits our gas line.  The firetruck comes.  The gas company comes.  We are evacuated.  Our neighbors are evacuated.  The gas company works until dark to get us safe again.  Bobcat Guy is responsible and will receive a big bill for services from the gas company.

Everyone is fine and we were able to sleep in the house that night.  The next morning Bobcat Guy finishes drilling out the concrete up by the front door and our house is rumbling while I make school lunches and coach the boys to get ready for school over the ruckus.  The next day I am left with a driveway full of sand and a crew that is mad at Bobcat Guy who didn't finish his job.  I ended up firing that crew and hiring a new contractor the same day.  I set up a contract with him spelling out the costs of each part of the project, and I felt relieved.  Days later I wished that I had put deadlines into the contract, because this guy doesn't show up until 12:30 or 1pm each day--after I've called him to see where he is.  I've ended up hiring someone that I have to "babysit".  I don't like babysitting the people I hire.  In fact, as soon as the babysitting begins, I resolve to never hire that contractor again and to never give their name out to any friends.

The driveway sat and sat over Labor Day weekend.  I was teary, but in retrospect I think that I was just tired from not sleeping at night with the stress of the driveway and a little overwhelmed with my concerns for this country.  I am an economics junkie and the way our deficit is going, I really want Romney to win the election!!

10 DAYS LATER, the driveway is poured.  We are ecstatic!  The boys are so curious about the process and very excited.

During the pour, another sprinkler line broke.  Our neighbor had jumped out of his house to warn us of a water line getting popped when he saw our contractor bring the heavy concrete truck right up onto the lawn, but we weren't concerned.  Then the water started gushing.

That was the worst it got.  The next morning we had a lot of cleaning up to do.  Trash left everywhere by the workers and the extra concrete was sloshed into a corner of the yard by our beloved contractor when we weren't looking.  Jon tossed it into some ivy.  I'm not going to grouse at him right now for doing that.

NOW we get to move on to planting the flower beds along the front of the house before winter comes.  In the last 10 days, I have been pouring over my inspiration boards to make sure that I bought the right shrubs.  I went to different nurseries almost every day collecting bushes and trees and ground cover.

On Saturday Jon and his dad cut down a bunch of bushes and trees.  And . . . the flagpole became a sad casualty--right after Jon had used this rental lift to put a rope into the top of the flagpole so that we could use it.  We'll put it back up in another part of the lawn.

Now you can see our chimney!

This week I have been cleaning out the gutters and the street that got so gunked up with dirt and sand etc from the concrete project.  Yesterday morning as soon as the kids were off to school, I burst out of the garage with all my tools to rip out the fetzer bushes that were in the front corner.  I was going to rip them out with the mini van if I had too!!  My neighbors all stopped to talk and encourage me.  Shout out to Kathy, Sjaanie, Martha, Kristi, Liza, and Kara :)

Now the corner looks like this.  This is actually an improvement!  You can see my growing collection of plants that I have been buying.

Tomorrow I hope to get some rose bushes pulled out and the new grass line to the flower bed established.  More pictures to come :)

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