Crazy Lady Digs Through Trash

Brooke here.  You would not believe the month we’ve just had.  Argh.

So, spring.  Somehow it just happened in spite of our hectic schedules, and we must either sprint to keep up or watch it pass us by again.

ME: This thing is going to be a b**ch to remove if we nail it into a tree root. BROWN: This thing is just going to be a b**ch to remove.

Sprinting it is.  If you remember the most recent landscaping post from last November, Brown and I had thrown a rather quick landing area between the fence posts and at the top of the stairs.  This was done to keep us from having to walk through a perpetually eroding mud slick every time we went down into the back yard.  We’re now working on the fence, so this landing will have to be replaced with something more permanent.   The edge where the landing meets the path is held up by a 4″x6″ we cut to size and hammered into place with a few leftover 18″ landscaping spikes.  The spikes may or may not have been a mistake; I’ll let you know when we go to remove it.  The wood weathered winter wonderfully, though, and I have high hopes for that stain.  Even after walking on it, the color remains as vivid as when I applied it last summer.

The base of the landing will probably be the reclaimed brick pavers from the pool deck, but now we have to decide what to do for permanent edging along the sides.  Selecting the edging is important because that material will have to be used in other areas of the landscaping to maintain a sense of consistency.  The transition between the landing and the path (most people would probably refer to this as a “stair”) can either be made of this material or not; if not, it should be distinctive enough to be considered a design element in its own right.

I went out to a stone yard over the weekend to see what options are available.  Almost all of the good-quality feature stones are completely out of our price range, and by completely, I mean I saw a couple of rocks destined for water features priced over $3500.  They were very nice rocks, I’ll admit, but that is a lot of money to pay for a rock, even those that come with a little band of gold to hold them in place.

So I wandered back towards the part of the yard that was less well-kept and had a Rottweiler.  The Rottie was a sweet pea, and we poured through the rubble that hasn’t been touched in years.

Poured concrete, my first choice. Slightly curved, longest piece about 5'5". Free + $75 shipping.

The owner said this is construction debris from rebuilding part of a hospital.  They put up a wall, found the wall was in a stupid place, and tore down the wall.  Somehow a bunch of the more interesting shapes made its way to the stone yard instead of the salvage yard or the dump.  The owner would give the largest piece to us for free. This is my first choice but not Brown’s; the phrase he used was “too mausoleumy.”  We might be able to compromise by pressure-washing it and then staining it dark brown to match the color of the fence.

Recycled granite curb. About 5'9" in length. $150 + $75 shipping.

My second choice is a granite curb left over from a repaving project in Durham.  I think the stone guy overbought on these since he had a lot of them sitting around.  I particularly love the dark line running through the center of that top piece.  It’s the perfect size and has great texture.  And the one behind it has tool marks!   These look very pink in person, though.

Gray granite slab (top), approximately 6'6". $50 plus $75 shipping

Then there’s this bad boy.  I really love gray granite, and the price on this piece is so low it’s robbery.  The owner didn’t know the story on this stone but said he’s tired of moving it and wants it gone.  Gray granite, sadly, would look out of place on the property because we be all about earth tones up in here whoop whoop!  But we could shoehorn some gray granite into the general design, I suppose.

Granite slabs reclaimed from an unnamed public works project. Enough for at least one retaining wall. Sold dirt-cheap by the ton plus $75 delivery.

We have to build a retaining wall before we put in a sidewalk, and these would make a ridiculously awesome wall.  Some of those pieces still have the original masonry tool marks in them!

Decisions, decisions.

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5 thoughts on “Crazy Lady Digs Through Trash

  1. If only my grandfather were still alive. He ran his own earthmoving business for sixty years and tooled around every continental state west of Ohio.

    Expert stoneknapper as well. He’d been raised on one of the reservations out in Montana and learned how to chip arrowheads the old-fashioned way: With just a deer antler.

    But I’m getting off topic. He had upwards of a hundred tons of quarried stone in his backyard by the time he passed: flint, jasper, obsidian, and variations from all over the country. He’d cut it into slabs himself so he could use it for construction projects around the property and to chip arrowheads when he felt like it.

    He used to send it at cost to anyone who asked. It wasn’t until he passed and we found the estimates that we learned just how much all that stone he gave away had been really worth. Yowch!

  2. My Word

    Well, I must admit that if you have the room and the need, go for all of it. Several retaining walls, built of dry stacked granite. The poured concrete has definete uses. I’ve always loved those kerbs, they lie all around my home city, or used to until a few years ago.

    But having never seen the garden, I cannot give true advice.

    Good luck

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