Regularly Scheduled Home Improvement Post…

This is the post that was supposed to fill up my Monday night, since I was either in the yard or kitchen over the week-end.

Without further ado, I bring you our back yard Patio Project Phase 1 blog:

The 16x16 "lower deck" last summer.

The 16×16 “lower deck” last summer.

The ex and I built a 16’x16′ deck extension in January of 2000 to augment the tiny 10’x10′ deck that came with the house. The ex and I divorced in ’01 and Johnny and I got married late ’03. We put in a pool. We altered the deck railing, as things were starting to fall apart. A couple years ago we put up our 10×10 EZ-Up tent after our 12×12 Big Lots gazebo bit it during a winter storm after several years of use. I had the girls from the office over when this picture was taken. Now, Johnny had never been a fan of the lower deck, especially since there were sink holes and my yard slopes TOWARD the house instead of AWAY from it. We were getting water damage under the house, and this was why.

Retaining wall before dirt came in.

Retaining wall before dirt came in.

Late last summer Johnny and I decided to eliminate the old lower deck this spring because the boards were warping (don’t ask me how many times I stumbled over the different height boards, because I won’t admit it, LOL), and because he suspected water standing under it. Granted, Petey, one of our dogs, loved to get under there in the summer to dig holes to get cool.

At any rate, we knew we were going to need at least a dump truck load full of dirt to get the yard closer to the house raised to where it was comparable to where the pool deck and grapevines are. We built a retaining wall last week to keep the extra soil from washing up toward the house and will fill the area inside with rock.

Bucket-o-tetanus, anyone?

Bucket-o-tetanus, anyone?

The dirt came Friday, and we started pulling deck boards off until dinner. While doing this, I went over all the boards with a drill and a Phillip’s head bit and tried to unscrew as many of the rusted screws as I could, but most of the heads just broke off. I submit to you a partial bucket-o-tetanus. This was one of those “good things” that didn’t come out and bite us (either of us) in the butt. It was the one thing I was most concerned about, during the whole deconstruction project, but nobody got jabbed, so there’s that.

deck during

Over half-way done…and none too soon!

Saturday morning dawned bright, warm, and sunny, and we got to work in earnest. EZ-Up tent came down, table and chairs were moved, herb planter boxes placed on the retaining wall.

Yeah, while it took 3-4 days to put up the deck, it took less than three hours to tear it down. After the first 30 minutes of pulling deck boards up, the dogs ran to the fence and went nuts. I walked over and peeked, and it was Hero, our favorite GSD. I dropped what I was doing, ran through the house, went out the front door and called him by name. He raced around the driveway, ran up to me, put his paws on my shoulder and gave me a great big, wet GSD kiss. We took a thirty minute break to make sure he got home alright and commenced to deconstructing. I’d get a few boards up and then drag them to a pile behind the studio.

See how I logged my strength training minutes that day?

See how I logged my strength training minutes that day?

This took the bulk of the three hours we pulled boards up. This picture doesn’t depict all of it. *Whew*!

While Johnny was talking to the neighbor about a yellow jacket hive behind our yards, I got all motivated and started pulling up boards. I had the second or third up by myself when *WHAM!* the board got away from me and bounced down across my right foot where my toes attach (fortunately, this wasn’t suck-foot, whose ankle I broke last fall). I am fairly certain the string of obscenities flying from my mouth was heard by the entire neighborhood. And to think; I almost wore the steel-toed boots, but didn’t. Nothing is broken, only a little bruised, but I did ice them.

deck-boardsgoneOnce all the boards were pulled, we were left with the beams supporting the deck boards. THAT was fun, but you gotta do what you gotta do, right? Do you see all the concrete supports? Those bad boys are heavy, and I threw, 30+ of those dogs into the front end loader of the tractor. Can anyone else say, “Overkill?” I knew ya could…

deck-sinkhole2Once we got all of the rest of the lumber and concrete thing-a-majigies out of the area we were left with a sink hole that was a good six inches deeper than what we thought was the lowest area of the yard.

Are you kidding me? Was it that low when we built the deck? It must have been, given had it sunk that much in 15 years it would have cause some deck damage, right? Johnny was all, “I told ya!” *humph* Yeah, whatever. He shoots, he scores.

A LOT of dirt...

A LOT of dirt…

Once we got the dirt in, after a day of front-end-loading, dumping, and smoothing, the space between the pool concrete pad and the rest of the yard was considerably diminished.

While out getting some other things at Lowe’s, yesterday, I found a couple small Windmill Palms and a beautiful yellow hibiscus, since the look we are going for is Asian/Tropical.

So Phase I is done, and we are taking this coming weekend off to help my mom mulch her yard, but stay tuned for more. We have been looking into pergolas, clumping bamboo privacy screens, flagstone patios and all the wonderful potential items we can use to make our garden a Zen-Spot that I will be happy to come home to after work this summer!

Did I mention? There will be a hammock!

So after watching multiple episodes of Yard Crashers, I have to ask…Where is the good looking dude in Lowe’s in MY town offering to overhaul my mess of a backyard?

Until next time…

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