Where did all those petunias come from?

by Chuck September 21, 2009

This afternoon we pulled all the petunias from the front garden. Back in the spring Dana planted three flats of petunias (plus a few more) to fill in the gaping holes between the few perennials we had planted out there.

Dana took two heaping wheel barrow loads of petunias to the compost bin, then I came out and started helping. We switched to the tractor and filled the bucket on the tractor twice.

There is almost two feet of petunias on top of the compost heap right now. I know that they will break down over the winter and be ready to turn back into the gardens in the spring, but sheesh, that’s a lot of petunias.



Cat garden

by Chuck August 23, 2009

Polly plays in the new cat garden. We built a new garden this weekend. We didn’t mean for it to turn into a cat garden, but the cats had other ideas…

The back side of new deck (the one toward the pasture) looked unfinished – we needed something to anchor the deck and provide a place for the eye to go. We decided that what we needed was another(!) garden, one with a water feature that we can hear on the deck and with a Japanese maple tree to stop the eye from wandering out to the pasture.

I went to Lowe’s in Silver Lake on Tuesday. I found a 91-gallon pre-formed pond on sale. We went back on Wednesday to buy it. Dana went to Mulbak’s on Friday where she discovered they were having a sale. She picked up perennial plants for the new garden.

On Saturday we started by cutting the sod out of the space where we wanted the new garden to be. Joey and Dana knocked the topsoil off the sod so we could use it later. Once the sod and topsoil was off the garden I used the roto-tiller to loosen the clay underneath. We dug out 4 inches of clay, then roto-tilled again to break up the next 4 inches. I added two tractor buckets of compost, roto-tilled, put another bucket of compost on and the topsoil we took off earlier and roto-tilled again. It took half the day, but we had almost 8 inches of good soil for the plants.

After taking a break I started digging out the hole for the pond. The clay around the house is pretty nasty – hard to break through and full of rocks. Eventually I had a hole I could use, but by then it was time to stop and go shopping for trees.

Dana and I went to Home Depot in Woodinville for the trees. They’re having a sale – we ended up getting two rhododendrons for the front yard, a maple tree for the end of the driveway, a willow for the other back corner of the house, and a Japanese maple for the new garden that we’re working on. Beautiful plants, lots of digging to get them in.

Sunday we finished digging in the pond, made two trips to Lowe’s for sand to put around the pond, and finally planted our new plants. We put a drip irrigation system in to water. After filling the pond we sat back to enjoy it – and to watch all the cats run around the garden, play in the pond, and play with each other. It’s pretty successful for all of us.



Work home

by Chuck May 28, 2009

Needed to work at home today – Dana is working late and Joey has a playoff baseball game he needs to be at by 4:30. Thankfully, both my manager and my company make it easy for us to work from home when we need to.

It’s pleasant working here in the den. I’ve got room on my desk for two laptops and my big monitor, the fish tank is just over on the other side of the room, there is a cat on my feet under the desk, and I can turn up my music on the stereo.

Without a commute I can start working early (today I was online by 6:30 a.m.) and quit when I get to 8 hours. No distractions, no stops by and talks, and for the most part I can stay in touch with my co-workers through e-mail and IM. Almost like I was at work with the door shut.

Here’s the view out my window – beats looking at Greg’s door across the hall like I do at the office.


Pasture in May



Decked out

by Chuck May 24, 2009

We finished the deck, a whole day ahead of schedule. Every day last week I came home and added 3 or 4 new planks to the deck, so by the time I started Saturday morning I only had half of the 20-foot side to finish up.

On Saturday afternoon Ron and Sue came up, and Ron helped me cut all the planks I needed for the 12-foot side. Dana and I put about half of them on before we gave up Saturday evening. 

On Sunday morning Dana and I finished planking the deck, and then while Dana went to visit her grandmother Katie and I put a facia board around the edges to finish it off. Dana and the kids moved the patio furniture onto the deck, and I hauled the barbecue back around, and Sunday night we ate dinner on the new deck.

I have a tendency to stand in the sliding door and look out at the deck and think: "I did that." 

New Deck



Stormy weather

by Chuck May 5, 2009

We had a storm last night. Lots of rain. And wind. Enough that two of the trees we planted yesterday came crashing down overnight, the two furthest from the house. Dana and I got up early to replant them, this time a little deeper than the time before.

While I was at work, two of them blew down again, this time the tree furthest from the house and the one closest to the house. I re-planted them again. Then I put stakes and rope to hold them up.

So far so good. 



Arbor day, redux

by Chuck May 3, 2009

We accidentally planted some more trees today.

Not accidentally, per se. It wasn't an accident to plant them, but buying them and putting them in was a spur of the moment sort of thing.

Early on Sunday morning I started digging out the trenches where we are putting the pier blocks for the deck. Dana came out, saw me digging, and said "We need to rent a tool." We rented a little Kubota excavator for the day, 8 hours of engine time in a 24 hour period. Since we only had an hour or so of digging for the patio, we looked around and said, "What else can we use a digger for?"

We came up with three things. Digging in a water line from the hose bib in the middle of the front to the chip shed, digging in an electrical line to the front gate, and digging the holes for the trees. Two of the projects meant leaving ditches across part of the place for a while; putting in the trees seemed like a one-time use of the digger. So that's what we did.

I waited for the excavator to be delivered. Dana headed down to Woods Creek Nursery to buy flowering plum trees. You remember a couple of weeks ago when we planted a flowering plum we bought the smaller trees? This time they didn't have smaller trees, we ended up with three enormous (20-feet tall) flowering plums to plant along the driveway.

Digging the holes with an excavator was easy. I loaded the dirt into the back of the truck and Joey and I unloaded it into the stock pile that I'm building over next to the compost bins. Last time when I planted a tree I used the tractor to mix dirt and compost, and then to haul the mixture to the planting hole. This time I moved one load, and then the front left tire on the tractor blew out. We ended up moving compost the old fashioned way -- shoveling it into the truck and then shoveling it back out.

Putting the trees in the holes was harder than we expected, but in the end we had the three trees planted along the driveway. It looks kinda elegant, the tree-lined driveway up to our house. It's a look that I really like, it's gonna be nice each spring when the trees flower.




by Chuck April 26, 2009

We've been describing laying the flagstones for the patio as "building a jigsaw puzzle, only there's no picture on the front of the box, all the pieces are the same color, and none of them actually fit together." It turned out to be exactly like that.

Dana and I hit the, well, not bricks. Rocks I guess. Rocks early and started laying the flagstones for the patio. With only one short break in the morning when my Mom and brother stopped by and a slightly longer one at lunch time, we laid the whole patio by 4:00 p.m.

It looks surprisingly good.

We've decided now that we have the patio we're pretty much committed to building the entire deck. The patio by itself looks pretty silly.



2-Part Harmony

by Chuck April 25, 2009

Today's installment of "the patio from heck" went in two parts.

First, in the morning I went to Rockman and got another truckload of 5/8-minus gravel. The lady there puts a serious load on your truck.

Then I took Joey to Lake Tye where we had a baseball game. I called the game from behind the plate -- the other team's fans didn't think much of my low strike calls, but there you go.

In the afternoon I started putting gravel in the hole. Took most of the truckload but I finally had the whole patio area filled to 3 inches below the grass. There must be 8 inches of gravel in some places, but no one will ever be able to say I didn't put enough rock under it.

Tags: ,


A fair curve is, well, fair

by Chuck April 20, 2009

Today was a beautiful day. Too beautiful to stay indoors at work. But I did anyway.

But as soon as I got home Dana met me at the door and said all your tools are waiting for you, so I headed out and started cutting sod away from the area where the patio will go.

The sod cutting and digging went quickly since we were only doing a few square feet, then I used the rest of the gravel that I had on hand to backfill the hole. Unfortunately the gravel I had on hand only filled the new area, there wasn't enough left over to bring the whole patio area up the two inches that we need. That will have to wait for our next chance to work on the project.



More 5/8-minus gravel, please

by Chuck April 19, 2009

This week we started working on our new deck and patio in earnest. We've always planned a deck on the side of the house off the dining room, we just couldn't afford to put one in after building the house. Instead, we put a gravel pad on the side of the house where we wanted the patio to go.

On Wednesday I used the tractor, a rake and a shovel to remove the gravel from the pad. On Saturday we started digging out the dirt to put the gravel base in for the patio section. 

I guess I should explain a little. We're putting in a 20x20 deck, but the 8x8 northwest corner is going to be a flagstone patio instead of a deck. Dana saw something like it on DIY Network, so we're using the idea. After we get the patio section in, we'll put the deck over the top of the inside corner with a step down to the patio. Our firepit will go on the patio so we don't inadvertantly burn the house down.

Anyway, we dug out the corner, piling the dirt up over by the compost bins, then backfilled with the gravel from the rest of the pad. When that ran out we went to Rockman here in town to get a pickup-load of gravel. Everything looked great, we went out and bought sand and edging and even a couple of rubber hammers to pound the stones with to settle them.

On Sunday we found the a stone that we liked at a place in Clearview off Highway 9. It's a stone that they call "Cowboy Coffee," but that's a color name, I'm not sure what the actual stone type is. Probably a Kentucky bluestone, it looks like that to me.  Anyway, we bought jsut over a ton. Then loaded it into the truck and hauled it home. Then unloaded it. That was about it for our Sunday.

And then I realized I wanted to put a curve on the outside edge. 

The edging helped me make a nice fair curve, but it meant we needed to do some more digging.



Log in