The concrete demolition started the first spring in my house with Cyd helping me start bashing it to pieces, took a break until last winter when Kael helped me finish and I transformed the scraps into a flowerbed wall and a little corner patio behind the shed. I wasn't letting myself plant any vines along the fence until the fence stopped leaning, which was finally last fall with post anchors and Kevin's help pushing from the other side, but I couldn't put a post anchor in the last spot that would help the whole fence. I had wanted a gate to hide the garbage can area anyway, so my dad & I put in a new gate & an extra new post to bring the fence in line last month. I could have started putting in my stepping stones last year, but I wasn't inspired since they just led to the ugly garbage cans anyway. Now that I have my pretty new gate, and that I put up my pot hanger that I bought at a salvage store in Berkeley in 2006 on the gate for hanging geraniums, I was finally inspired to get my brick stepping stones in so I could also plant the little herb & vegetable garden I had dreamed of since I moved in. :)
Last weekend was our concert, and I know better than to exhaust myself with yardwork before performing, but Sunday afternoon I was able to test the layout of the bricks. I was able to use up the rest of the bricks that do not match the stock Home Depot brick that will be used for the front pathways, so that's good. I made sure to walk the path with shorter & larger strides, and by having the criss-cross pattern of 8 bricks in rotating pairs, I think the steps are large enough that shorter people should have no problem. Since most often it is a path from the patio around the screen to get to the trash, I used that as my starting stride pattern, making sure that was comfortable, then I added the other steps along the patio to the flowerbed evenly spaced to match the rest. I was scrounging for matching brick at the end so that I changed out the brick that was stabilizing my gate arbor just to use the matching ones for the last stepping stone! ;)
I had enough sand leftover from the patio project a year and a half ago, and I took advantage of a sale at OSH for $1.29 4" tomatoes (2 Early Girl and 2 Ace which I have had good luck with in Cupertino before) and one Anaheim chili pepper, a golden lemon thyme & golden sage, then a 6-pack of wooly thyme for between the steps. Since the side yard is very narrow, with fence on one side and house on the other, it might not be enough full sun for tomatoes, but it's worth a try, especially at that price. I was hoping I could get all the steps anchored & all the planting done Saturday, but I had to dig the steps in enough and that is so rocky that I was completely sore by evening, and only 5 steps were finished, but at least everything was planted. I didn't realize I wouldn't have enough valves for the drip irrigation, and my hands were so cramped from all the digging & brick handling that I couldn't have done it anyway!
I woke up Sunday morning still sore after a full 8 hours of sleep - uh oh! Not a good sign. I went to OSH first to get my drip irrigation stuff plus some fine bark mulch, finished the drip irrigation first, requiring weighing lines down with brick to train them since that irrigation tubing is so stiff until it loosens up in the sun, then continued the brick, with a break inbetween for some piano playing, since my hands were already cramping & my back was aching. It was so windy I was fighting a losing battle trying to pick up the tulip tree petals, but at least it was a nice temperature for working. I got all the bricks done by 5:30, then two more passes each step for more sand, since it keeps seeping in leaving gaps, especially since Friday it poured all night so the sand was still wet while I was working with it, then all the bark top dressing was done by about 6:30, with just enough time for photos. I will need to keep adding sand for awhile of course. I didn't think the individual bricks would take quite so long & make me so tired, and seeing the most interesting pattern I could come up with was one that you can buy pavers all one piece in that pattern, I was wondering if I was just doing this the hard way. I thought I'd like the individual bricks better, even if they start getting wonky over time, since that just gives it character & charm...I hope! My brick patio is finally getting tiny moss between some bricks like I'd hoped, which might not last in the summer sun, but I hope my side path can do the same.
Side yard when I moved in, now after 2 years of gradual work!
Oh, and my gnome finally has his own home at Brittahytta! I had made the gnome door in 2006, but putting it out front was risky since it kept getting moved so I'd find it across the flowerbed, so I moved him inside. Nathania had given me the perfect-sized gnome figure for my birthday, so I had been waiting until my path was completed before setting up house for him. Now that there is irrigation around the tulip tree, I plan to transplant some baby tears to give him more landscaping, and hopefully the wooly thyme & golden thyme will grow over time. (haha) The irrigation line should relax in a bit so I can bury it without it popping right up again, then he'll have a better front yard.
Brittahytta is "truly" a Scandinavian house now, complete with gnome family living in the yard. :)
Boy am I tired! I can barely grip anything my hands are so sore, and my legs & back are aching from crouching so much, but at least I have my nice new herb & vegetable garden with pretty bricks to go with my brick patio...and all done by myself! :)