Saturday morning we were up early to check out the nearby garage sales (no luck though, since we were only looking for big furniture pieces that we could refinish). Then we visited two landscaping supply yards and a garden center, looking at paver stone options for our retaining walls. Unfortunately none of these places had very many options for pavers to build walls with a slight curve, mostly we found rectangular shaped pavers, and lots of flagstone and natural rocks. And their prices weren't really better than what we'd seen at Lowes the previous weekend.
But luckily we decided to try Home Depot, to see what their selection and prices looked like, and we found our pavers! They are a nice color blend of greys, reds and browns, so they will blend into the surrounding natural landscape really well, and they were only $1.18 each! We'd been budgeting for $2 pavers, and even though these are slightly smaller, so we need to use more (only 3 inches high, instead of 4), it's still a savings over what we found at the stone yards and Lowes.
We bought 300 pavers, along with 10 bags of paver base, and 20 bags of small decorative rocks which will cover the finished fire pit area (although someday we may replace the decorative rocks with a paver stone patio, but that will be in phase 2 of the project, and we have a feeling we may end up liking the more natural rock surface even more than we would a patio.).
Thank goodness Home Depot offers delivery, because it would have been a whole lot of trips in our cars to get all of that home! We considered renting a truck from Home Depot for $20 and hauling the supplies home ourselves, but that $20 only gets you an hour and a half rental. Trying to race against the clock to unload 300 pavers and all of the other bags wasn't our idea of a good time, so we spent $39 more than the truck rental cost for the luxury of having everything delivered and unloaded next to our house this Friday. Gotta save our muscles for hauling those pavers down the slope and installing them next weekend!
By mid day Saturday we were already feeling really good about all we'd accomplished (buying stuff! It's really happening, my dream of having my own fire pit is going to finally come true!), but we still had a lot more to do to prep for the install.
Last weekend we'd marked off the 12 foot diameter circle we wanted the fire pit area to span, and next it was time to mark off where the retaining walls on either side would go. You can sort of see the white rope lines in the below photo. In this photo, you'll also notice two small trees between the white rope. Yep, getting rid of those was on our afternoon agenda!
We used the same saw that my husband used to take down the post and railing in our nook area, with me applying a bit of pressure on the trees to ensure they fell the correct direction. The smaller one was pretty easy, but for the larger one my husband first cut a notch into the tree on the side we wanted it to fall, to further help it go down in the direction we intended.
The fallen trees then go cut up. I cut off the leafy branches and dragged them to our yard debris pile, while my husband used the saw to cut the trunks into fire pit sized logs.
We left a good amount of the tree stumps, to give us leverage to work with when it comes time to dig out the roots. And we may have a fun use for the larger of the stumps, which I'll get into in a future post if it ends up working out.
The cut up trees, drying on a tarp in the corner of our garage. We need to get or make some kind of wood pile/wood shed for a long term solution!
Sunday morning it was time for yet another trip to the hardware store, to get more supplies for next weekend. We picked up a wheelbarrow, and 10 bags of drainage gravel.
Some drainage tubes, which will get packed in place on the back side of our retaining walls with the gravel, to help with water drainage behind the walls.
Some construction adhesive, which will hold the stacked paver stones in place.
And we also added a tamper to our ever-growing tool collection, to pack down the dirt and paver base.
Once we got the wheelbarrow assembled, it was time to put it to use with clearing a trail down to our fire pit area. We are eventually going to put in sod (and cut down some more trees) closer to our house, where the ground is much more level. So we started our path down to the fire pit where the slope begins, and where the edge of our grass will come up to someday.
First we had to rake all of the leaves to the side, so you can start to see where the path will go.
Then, to level things out, we used a shovel to dig up dirt from the higher side of the path, and smoothed it and tamped it down over the lower side of the path.
(I totally love that our path is curving down the slope and through a break in a fallen tree!)
We definitely have a lot more to do on just the path itself, like defining the edges with larger rocks and filling the path with either decorative rocks or bark and adding some landscape lighting along the edge to light the path at night. But since next weekend we will be taking many, many trips down the path with the wheelbarrow full of heavy stones, we know it's going to get torn up a bit. We'll come back and finish the path off later, once we're done with the retaining walls and fire pit area. Building a level path down a slope is a whole lot harder than it looks, so for now, we're happy that it's good enough to take the wheelbarrow down it and walk down it without tripping over rocks and roots!
When leveling out our path down to the fire pit, we also had the chance to dig a little in the area that will be excavated next weekend, to use some of the dirt to build up our path.
For the fire pit area, we're using the same principal as we did with the path. After building up the lower retaining wall to the mid point slope height in the area we're working with, we will dig out the dirt from the higher side of the slope, remove the roots and rocks, and transplant it to the lower side of the slope, to back fill the area up about as high as the lower retaining wall, and then we'll build the upper retaining wall. This will mean we're only building two ~2 foot high retaining walls, instead of one much larger retaining wall on the higher side, and also means less digging. So far, so good on the test digging front though--there's some roots and some rocks, but it's a nice clay dirt that isn't very hard to penetrate with our shovel. Fingers crossed it stays that way as we continue to dig next weekend!
Did you have a productive weekend too? Make any hardware store trips or cut down any trees? I can definitely say (and my husband agrees) that our idea of a good weekend has definitely changed since we became homeowners. Relaxing used to be the name of the game on weekends, and now it's accomplishing as much home stuff as we can that defines a good weekend!