Back corner lot Landscaping project

The plant layout. The red landscaping bricks will be three high.

A few years ago, they old guy next door neighbor moved out. So went the TLC in the back corner of my lot. Its to the far left back against the property. Its an area about 20 feet square. We have a dying Elm tree in that area and eventually we will take that tree down. Good News is that we intend on planting more trees, just not the 75 footer type.

So The other members of the household decided it was a good time to start tearing up the old stuff in that corner. We went to Lowe’s a few weeks ago and bought some bushes, a few juniper trees and some plants. All of this will eventually get into the ground. The plan is to lay landscaping cover and we haven’t decided if we want river rock or some other cover. I am not one to do mulch. It goes bad and dingy too quickly.

So I go outside and assess the situation. Honestly, its not in that bad of a shape. The only challenge will be to remove a tree which has grown against some old fence line I put up 7+ years ago and English Ground Ivy.

The English Ground Ivy coming from the neighbors yard.
The English Ground Ivy coming from the neighbors yard.

Today I seen the new owner of the house. I asked him if I could take out the tree that is keeping me from taking down the old fence and putting up a new one. He said, “Yes, no problem. All of the people who come to see this house ( its up for sale) doesn’t like it.”  I told him I would clean that area up a little as well take the tree out for no charge. I want my sunshine back in that back corner. Grass refuses to grow back there since there is nearly no sunlight.

Extra Landscaping rocks from other projects will come in handy framing the area
Extra Landscaping rocks from other projects will come in handy framing the area.

There is a small walkway into this area. There used to be a hammock back there and if all goes well, there will be a new one back there.  I figure we can complete this project over a few weeks. The temperature for this coming week, the last week in June 2019 is expected to be in the 90F degree range. It may be a late afternoon project at best. I am not one to push my luck in the oppressive heat.

So it being a cooler Saturday morning, I decided to get outside and start painting the left over landscaping rocks. These will be placed in an arch around the yard. My thought is, lets move the area out about 3-5 feet. It will offer the plants a little bit more room to grow and digging holes for the plants and bushes wont be a burden trying to cut up all the large roots we encounter.

This gave me the idea to arch the landscaping rocks to it will look more appealing
This gave me the idea to arch the landscaping rocks to make it more appealing.

Here is the idea behind the new look. The existing sidewalk, will be framed by two juniper trees that may grow to about 20 feet tall. On the left hand and right we will add a shrub and other plants. It really depends on how large these bushes will get. We’re playing it conservative for now, and may add in other plants once we get an idea how large the shrubs will get.

The plant  layout. The red landscaping bricks will be three high.
The plant layout. The red landscaping bricks will be three high. 

Even though this doesn’t look like a big project, it is. Simply removing the grass and getting holes in the ground is enough. We have about 6 inches of top soil in the yard, and underneath is gold colored clay. I told my son, that the ultimate way to do this is to break out the Roto-tiller I bought way back in 2009.Should the tiller refuse to cooperate, I imagined that I would be digging this up with a post hole digger manually. My son and I pull the tiller out. It doesn’t have any oil in it and the gas tank looks and smells like it had stabilizer still in it. We filled up the oil and the gas tank. In about 5 minutes, the tiller is running and life just got a whole lot easier.

I decided to till up a spot wider than where the bricks originally were laid down. this will aid is in tampering the ground level and be less of a pain laying down the landscaping rocks.

This ten year old tiller made a huge difference preparing the ground for the plants and bushes.
This ten year old tiller made a huge difference preparing the ground for the plants and bushes. In the foreground a bush and a juniper tree wait patiently to be firmly planted into their new home.

We started this project just after noon. With the tiller, I was able to sink the blades into the dirt and clay and till down to about a foot deep, maybe 16 inches. The smaller roots were no problem. We did encounter a few handful of roots we had to remove in order to complete the tilling. Root removal was done with a LONG coarse blade in a Saws-all. All three of us took our turn removing the roots. Some were easy, others were just plain painful.

After tilling both side, I was spent. The tiller at times was pretty hard to control. It ends up bucking worse that a wild bronco on occasion and my arms are paying for it now. A good meal, some medication and rest and I’ll be better in no time.  I was willing to pay the price since the tiller cut the job time by a week or more – due to the incoming heat and my reluctance to use a post hole digger on the entire area.  =)

Today I managed to till up all of the area. My son and his girlfriend ended up pulling the English Ivy up on our side of the fence line. They also also assisted by cutting out the roots that were just too big for the tiller to take care of. They cleaned up the debris and bagged it all. They planted three of the five plants and helped put everything away. Looks like I am buying dinner.

There was much that was done. The biggest part of this project will be painting and then placing down a lot of Landscaping bricks.
There was much that was done. The biggest part of this project will be painting and then placing down a lot of Landscaping bricks. 

After we clean up and I ate, I snuck back outside and took a spade shovel with me. I quickly dug the two holes to the left hand side. That side was pretty much free of roots and was tilled up pretty well. They can get the plants in the ground tomorrow morning. I’ll go to Lowe’s and get the landscaping cover and a few other items. Once we make some significant progress, I will add it to this post until it is all completed.

 

New DIY project – Mini picket fence and landscaping rocks !

The 12 foot section is 75% complete. The side panel to the right will be placed in last.

A few weeks ago, I went out the front door, and I noticed the impending invasion of the Bermuda grass on top of the river rock that frames the front of the house. Taking a closer look over all, I noticed the picket fence was getting a bit old looking. Looks like its another DIY (do it yourself) project. Good, I like staying busy.

The old mini picket fence, rusting screws and dingy paint.
The old mini picket fence, rusting screws and dingy paint. The Bermuda grass invades the rocks without a fight. This do it yourself project would take about a week to complete. Geesh that 20 foot run is crooked as heck. Yeah. Time to redo.

I decided to rip up the 20 foot section of fence and spray the area down with Round-up Extended version. In that 20 by 5 foot area, I spread out two gallons of Round-up and two days later, the battle with the Bermuda grass was won, at least on the rocks.

Bermuda grass can invade an area quickly, and difficult to get rid of. Round-up Extended formula did the trick.
Bermuda grass can invade an area quickly, and difficult to get rid of. Round-up Extended formula did the trick.

I wanted to come up with a way to keep the grass in general in check, and keep the fence up since it helps keep the people delivering the mail from cutting across the rocks and scattering rocks  as they go for the mail box.

I knew the answer, but it would be a semi-painful event. I recently bought a John Deere E130. With that purchase came a promotional dump cart. I asked my son to assist in grabbing some landscaping rocks from the back yard, which were circling some bushes. They were originally there to help the bushes along,  keeping the dirt in place as the bushes got settled in and expanded the root system.

The next day, I come home from work, and my son was outside, looked a bit spent.  He had the John Deere Lawn tractor out in the front, loaded with landscaping rocks. I got out of the truck, donned some gloves and started to pile landscaping rocks off to the side. I thanked him for getting them remaining rocks, as I was using a utility cart, getting 5-8 per trip. After two trips, I knew there was a better way. That’s why I opted for the John Deere E130 and the dump cart, it was a winning combination. This WILL come in very handy on the list of DIY projects I want to complete before winter sets in.

I decided to place a few of the landscaping rocks under the old fence to see if I could make this work. My only concern was that the fence would be about 6-8 inches higher, and it would hide the clay pots from the road. Eh, it would be a small price to pay if I can keep the grass out of the rocks and give the landscaping a nice uniform look.

Placing a few landscaping rocks under the old fence to see if the effect.
Placing a few landscaping rocks under the old fence to see the effect.

Whoa Nellie…. These rocks were quite dingy with dirt. I decided to give the rocks a well deserved bath. I have a extendable brush that I use to wash the truck and tralier with, so put that on a hose and turn the water on low. The scrubbing didn’t take long, but the drying would. It was hot outside, probably near 85 degrees F, and it would take a while for the landscaping bricks to dry.

Scrubbing the rocks will get rid of the dirt and allow the paint to adhere to the rock better.
Scrubbing the rocks will get rid of the dirt and allow the paint to adhere to the rock better. After about an hour, the rocks were about 25% dry. I decided to let them sit overnight.
Spacing out the rocks made it a lot easier to scrub all of the dirt off. Scrubbing about 45 rocks took about an hour.
Spacing out the rocks made it a lot easier to scrub all of the dirt off. Scrubbing about 45 rocks took about an hour.

OK, this looks like a winner idea. But the color is awful drab, and I wanted a bit more of a red, to accent the maroon shutters on the creme colored house. So off to Lowe’s I went and picked up two gallons of patio and cement paint. The paint was on sale, effectively 50% off each gallon, with online rebates. I chose a brick red color, and started painting a few rocks. Below is the comparison of how they looked before, and how they would look with a new thick coat of paint on the landscaping rocks.

 

Here is a comparison of the landscaping rocks without and with new paint. That brick red definitely looks better.
Here is a comparison of the landscaping rocks without and with new paint. That brick red definitely looks better.

As the paint dries upon the bricks, now comes playing with wood. The front yard has two sections I need to do. If facing the house, the right side is 12 feet wide. The area to the left is 20 feet wide. I decided to work on the 12 foot section first making sure I like the overall appearance before I pushed all in on the larger 20 foot area.

I decided to make two 6 foot sections of fence so it would look even.  With the 6 foot 2×4’s cut and painted, I simply place the 24-inch picket at each end. Framing the outside, I then made sure the frame was square and level. Once that was done, the rest of the job was making sure the measurements were good. I used a 4.25 inch wood spacer between each picket and it worked out pretty good.

The six foot mini picket fence to be used on the 12 foot area.
The six foot mini picket fence to be used on the 12 foot area.

Geesh, I painted a lot of landscaping rocks. I realized these were about a foot long, which meant I would need many. On the 12 foot section, I would need 17 painted landscaping rocks. On the 20 foot section, I would need 25 landscaping rocks. The days were hot, which aided in painting the rocks. But my tolerance to heat isn’t the best and I took many breaks and drank plenty of water. Geesh these things looked like meatloaf, one of my favorite meals. I promised myself a massive dinner with meatloaf and smashed potatoes when this is 100% complete !

Painting the landscaping rocks took quite a while. These long days, doing some sweat equity, I promised myself a large Meatloaf and smashed potato dinner when its 100% complete !!
Painting the landscaping rocks took quite a while. These long days, doing some sweat equity, I promised myself a large Meatloaf and smashed potato dinner when its 100% complete !!

While the landscaping rocks were drying, I ripped up the front side of the 12 foot section of fence. Once 12 landscaping rocks were dry, I cleaned out a trench, pushing the river rock back in order to manipulate the rock line better.

ooooooh. that Red on the lansdscaping rock looks sexy. With the dark green emerald grass, it looks impressive.
ooooooh. that Red on the lansdscaping rock looks sexy. With the dark green emerald grass, it looks impressive.

I decided to stand up the mini picket fence upon the rock to get an idea what the finished product would look like. My son wandered outside to see what I was doing, and I got him to assist in placing the metal posts so I could make this a done deal.

The 12 foot section is 75% complete. The side panel to the right will be placed in last.
The 12 foot section is 75% complete. The side panel to the right will be placed in last.

Sweet ! It gave me motivation to keep going. The sun was going down, but the temperature was still hovering over 80 degrees F. I took my time and cleared out the trench where the landscaping rock had to be. I placed the landscaping rocks down squared them up pretty decent and was happy with the way it was coming along.

The landscaping rocks were in place on the 20 foot section. Now I needed some wood for this side of the project.
The landscaping rocks were in place on the 20 foot section. Now I needed some wood for this side of the project.

I went back to Lowe’s and seen 2×4’s that were ten feet long and bought 6 of those home. This way the 20 foot section only needs two sections, vice three. I decided to cut up some more pickets, paint the wood and create a 10 foot section of fence. With the sky a dusky dark, I decided to give the project a break. I deserved a shower and a night out. I went to my favorite eatery and decided on a decent cut of prime rib dinner. After that, I came home and was truly relaxed and ready for a well deserved rest.

One of the two 10 foot fence runs is done. I will do the other section early in the morning and beat the impending heat – it’s supposed to be in the 90F+ range tomorrow.

One of two sections of 10 foot mini picket fence is done. The project is coming along nicely and without any hiccups.
One of two sections of 10 foot mini picket fence is done. The project is coming along nicely and without any hiccups.

I’ll complete this post when the project itself is done – before I get the meatloaf dinner. I hope to have it done this Memorial Day weekend. I have the Red and White readily available, and the Blue comes with a touch of nature.

The Red, White and Blue is complete. The new landscaping bricks and fence line will be completed real soon !
The Red, White and Blue is complete. The new landscaping bricks and fence line will be completed real soon !

Today is Sunday 26 May, and the weather guessers have decided to call for a 30% chance of rain this afternoon. Some storms are popping up, so I decided to not wait until tomorrow to do what I have to do.  Last night was a thunder and lightning show from about midnight to 4 am.  So at 9:30 am I went out and started to work on this project. I was up a tad bit late, but I wanted to see if I could get the last 10 feet of fence created.

At 9:30 am it’s close to 85 degrees outside, and I opted for creating the fence line in the garage so I could be a tad bit cooler.  In about an hour or so, I had the fence built. It took about that long to set the fence, align it and then use some support posts to secure it in place.

Alignment looks good. It looks incredible compared to the last fence line. That old three section fence looked really misaligned.
Alignment looks good. It looks incredible compared to the last fence line. That old three section fence looked really misaligned.

The view from the corner of the lot looks great. The last thing I have to do are the end caps, one on each end of the fence line and the job is complete. Lowe’s is having a sale on paint through the weekend, so I will get the boards and paint I need to complete that last section and call it done. Overall, the project wasn’t that hard, just a lot of sweat equity and patience.

The view of the fence line in place. The only thing left are some small end caps that go on the extreme right and left sides.
The view of the fence line in place. The only thing left are some small end caps that go on the extreme right and left sides. The left over landscaping bricks will be used in a back yard project that will be when the weather breaks and its a lot cooler.

For this project, I had left over 2×4’s and pickets from doing my picket fence last fall. The only extra costs were six 2x4x10 lumber and two gallons of brick red patio and concrete paint. A pretty good project, in a about a week, mainly part time, except for a Saturday and a few hours on Sunday.  One more Do It Yourself Project complete.

Time for a Meatloaf and Smashed Potato reward meal  !!  =)