Progress, I tells ya, there’s progress!
Having reluctantly come down from the elation of defeating the stump from hell, I then set to the less glamorous tasks of removing a couple of more concrete footings, and leveling the site. Now leveling is important not just for aesthetics, but also for drainage, so unglamorous though it may be, it’s pretty vital to get it right. And you can’t just throw in dirt – you need rocks to let water go through.
Now where was I going to find enough rocks to cover 25 square meters?
That’s right, after taking out the swimming pool, I now had the fun task of crushing it into tiny tiny bits (and I mean tiny) to make the foundation. So first I used a sledgehammer, and once I had small enough pieces, eventually ended up using a normal hammer. The final bit had me sitting cross legged in the dirt for hours and hours with a pile of apple sized rocks on the left, another pile of pea sized rocks on the right, and me and my little hammer in between. It was like playing in the sandbox, but with more violence.
Eventually, after many, oh so many hours of work, we end up with this.
Is that level? Oh boy is it ever. That meant it was finally time to try out the granite pavers. I went into the garage and one at a time laid out the biggest pieces for my first visual of how the final product will look. And here’s what I saw.
And that’s when I realized — I just didn’t like it. The style and the color somehow just didn’t match the house.
“Dang,” said I, and let them sit until morning, when I realized I still didn’t like it–at least not in the back. But they would look good in the heretofore equally crappy front. This area is overgrown, so the light colored stones would work really well. I tried it out, and yep, it looked like that was gonna be the new plan.
Preparing the site was easy. It took me about four hours to pull up all the existing pavers, and bash out some leftover concrete to end up with a nice even surface. Getting to the same point in the back took about two months. And along the way, I got to encounter the biggest ants I have ever seen. These jovial fellows were about 15mm long, which I promise is rather a lot of insect.
So how does it work? First I go to the back and sift a wheelbarrow full of sand, which I mix with cement at a ratio of 6:1. Then I take the uneven pieces and assemble then into a pattern that fits as tightly together as possible (harder than it sounds, but also the most fun part). Then I pick them up again, lay down a base of sand/cement mix, replace each paver and pound it down so all the pieces are even and secure. Then, I take sweep more sand/cement into the cracks, pound them down again, sweep in more cement, etc., until the whole thing is really tight.
Finally, you soak the whole thing to let the cement set. Which is the first time you get to see how the finished product will look.
The part above was my first go, and after that I started getting the hang of it. Now instead of trying to do huge sections at once, I realize that I should fit them in little stripes. This is as far as I got this morning before it started raining. This part isn’t nearly as physically demanding, and is actually loads of fun. So now my plan is to do a little bit every day, until I run out of yard or run out of granite – whichever comes first.