Saturday, September 27, 2014

Paver Project

Occasionally, one likes to exit ones home and step upon ground that is not mushy or wet or dusty, or that makes ones shoes track said mush or wetness or dust across ones home should one forget to remove one's shoes upon entering said house.

In other words: we've gotta do something about our lack of walkways.

For a house bounded tightly on two sides by a paved street, our exterior doors are  remarkably far from pavement. The back door requires you to trudge across grass (although that'll hopefully change once we get our act together and do the backyard already) that is often sloppy wet for days after a rain storm. The front door is the same, although the grass and weeds are patchy enough that it's more of a mud puddle. Exit 2-B was out the front door and to the left, jumping off the porch across the "side yard" into the street, but we just purposefully transplanted some big-ass plants to that spot to discourage people (read: us) from doing that. So it looks like we're gonna focus on the front walk.

We'd been holding back from putting pavers in mainly because Abby is frightened that the French drain I put in wasn't good enough. I'm only slightly offended by the notion... But not enough to overcome the knowledge that a poorly-done drain with pavers on top would be that much harder (and more expensive) to fix. So I was willing to wait.

After a few rainstorms with the new drain, most of the moisture was gone, but a big pit kept on forming right in front of the door-- the aforementioned mush. I realized, however, that the pit was forming because of a tiny hole in the (new) gutter, which was digging out the fresh, soft dirt underneath every time it rained, so regardless of the presence of the drain directly underneath, the water just pooled immediately. I was confident that with the pavers placed right there, a hole couldn't be drip-dug, and the water would disperse. Really, I was confident...

So we budgeted a whole day for the project. Saturday morning I ripped up the grass and weeds, and while Abby went to Home Depot to get a load of supplies, I dug. I was supposed to dig an 8-inch trough between the lines she had set; instead, it was more like a foot, so... We had to buy a lot more supplies. Five more trips to Home Depot later (not counting the truckload I had brought home Friday) we had 90 bags of paver base (which is basically crushed brick), 20 or so bags of sand, and 180 brick pavers-- small ones 9 lbs, large ones 14 lbs.

The project progressed pretty well, but not quite as quickly as we had hoped. All of Saturday (and all of Sunday) later, we were about 75% done. Midweek, maybe 90%. Abby did some sweeping of sand into the crevices a few times-- and still has to do some more-- but we're finally done, about ten days later. We actually got a lot of help from the kids-- especially Lola, who was tickled that  this crazy project meant she wouldn't have to trudge her bike through the mud to put it on the porch anymore. Isaac wasn't too thrilled about helping in ways that weren't "exciting," but we even got the attention of neighborhood kids, who helped lay some of the final bricks.

Where the kids really helped was in getting rid of some of the large dirt-and-rock pile I had created by digging (too deep). It was about three cubic meters of fill, and I figured I'd try to get rid of it on Craigslist before I paid someone to remove it. We had two bites immediately, and the kids helped shovel the stuff pretty enthusiastically into one of their trucks. Impressive! We've got about a third of the total pile left, and I'm kind of hoping I can wish it away...

But guess what? I was right about the French drain and the drip-digging: big storm came, and no water accumulating anywhere :)

We spent this weekend looking for some more vegetation, and lucked into two big junipers courtesy of our neighbors Cathy and Brian, who wanted to get rid of them. (Hope they survive the transplant.)

Regardless, look whose house is actually connected to the road now!
Digging up the mud.
Leveling off the mud

Pouring gravel for a runoff
Setting out paver base
Sand on top
And of course it starts to rain...

Buying pavers at Home Depot
My helper getting pavers out of Ganzo

Paying out the pavers

USING the pavers!
Voila! The finished product!