We spent the long weekend working hard to get some landscaping done in our backyard.
We live in in a 100 year old New England house and our yard is just as unique and interesting as the house itself. We have a porch on the side of the house, off our large kitchen, and from there, there were large cement blocks going from the gate out to the back. There were a couple issues with the cement – 1) They went down a hill and past one of our very large and very old trees – which meant the blocks were broken and uneven from the tree roots. 2) It was unsightly and 3) It could be almost dangerous as a tripping hazard with small children and even adults who weren’t used to it. My kids (even Luke) have learned to navigate it pretty well, but I always worried when friends would visit.
This is what it looked like before (looking up from the backyard):
Another angle (the porch is another project for later this summer):
We’ve wanted to get rid of the cement for awhile, but as they were a good 4 inches thick, we knew it would be a project. We decided to tackle it this summer and since Nate had a 4 day weekend, we decided to do it now. I’ve always envisioned nice thick grass there and, with a little advice from Nate’s brother who does landscaping (thanks, James!), we set to work on getting there.
On Friday, Nate rented a jackhammer and broke up the cement into smaller pieces.
Nathan helped too:
On Saturday, some friends brought a huge truck that could haul the cement pieces to the dump. I forgot to get a photo of the pile of cement but it was pretty big.
Then, they hauled two big loads of top soil or loam for a total of 6 cubic yards. This was to be mixed in where the cement used to be so we could get grass growing. It was a huge pile of dirt. Of course it was like a magnet for the kids.
Before we could lay the new soil down, we had to pick up the smaller pieces of cement left behind. And rocks. Lots of rocks. New Hampshire is called the granite state for a reason. We grow rocks here. Seriously, for every rock we picked up, it seemed there were 10 more in its place. I have never picked up so many rocks in my life.
Here it is cleared. We didn’t do the cement blocks farther down in the back because they were pretty level and we’re keeping it as a patio area for now. We may take them up next year. See the rock/dirt pile near the wheelbarrow? Rocks we picked up and hauled by hand. It’s even bigger now.
Once we cleared off most of the rocks off the top, we sprinkled some fertilizer over, put down a thin layer of new topsoil, and Nate went over it with a tiller to mix it in and break up the ground more.
It was neat to see my man hard at work like that. And to be helping work along side him. It really was a team effort.
Once the ground was tilled, we picked up more rocks. And more rocks. Eventually we just had to stop because it was impossible to get them all out. By this point it was Sunday, and we had probably spent several hours picking up rocks alone.
Then it was time to really spread the topsoil. Luke was awake from his nap at this point and he wanted to “help.” It was so cute.
Emily and Joshua helped shovel dirt too. (Nathan was mad because he couldn’t find his work gloves.)
When my kids are dirty, they are happy.
Very very dirty and very, very happy.
More hard work spreading almost 6 yards of dirt. Nate shoveled it into the wheelbarrow, brought it over, and I smoothed it out with a rake. All 3-4 inches thick. My back is still sore and I can only imagine how sore Nate is! But it felt good to work that hard. There’s something very satisfying about it.
I didn’t get any pictures of this stage – I was too busy working and really dirty myself. (You should have seen my kitchen floor from all of us tracking mud in!)
Once that was finished (it took us most of Sunday afternoon,) we set up a temporary fence so the grass would have a chance to grow without dogs and little feet running all over it. Then I sprinkled grass seed and fertilizer.
After gently raking it in, lots and lots of water:
Now we wait and hope the grass grows!
And that is how we spent our Memorial Day weekend.
A whole lotta work and even more fun, working together as a family.