Bricks, Conquered

Brooke here.  After the bat and the black widow and the snakes, I was sure we were past creepy animal posts but there’s something in the back yard that clicks like the freaking Predator so don’t be surprised if there are news reports about my headless skinned corpse.  Well, it’s okay to be a little surprised; headless skinned corpses are fairly surprising.  I know I wouldn’t like to come across one anywhere outside of the meat and poultry aisle.

We’re still in limbo on the pool.  The people who Know What They Are Doing had scheduled us for repairs at the beginning of May, so — in theory — as I write this we are throwing one kick-butt Memorial Weekend party for all of our friends and neighbors.  Ah well, there was no helping the two straight weeks of rain.

The delay has allowed us to play catchup with some other projects.  We’ve started reclaiming what might have been a lawn from under new tree growth and the perpetual ivy.

There might have been grass here, once. Or a bingo parlor. Or a car dealership for sentient asparagus. Really, it's anyone's guess.
With some of the trees removed, it is evident this used to be a beauty salon for buffalo. Or perhaps a small and poorly-designed golf course with a water hazard (that last one's almost plausible).

There is quite a lot of undergrowth and small tree removal to still be done, but we discovered the poison ivy once the first row of trees came down.   Then we said screw it and went shopping for herbicide.  We’ve been so good! about not using chemical controls but there’s a limit to how much crap we’re willing to take from plants.

(And I’ll be honest with you guys — I can’t recognize Southern poison ivy.  Back home?  Three small reddish leaves and quite pretty.  Down here it looks like every other small weedy tree and the leaves are large enough to hide a well-endowed Adam from shame.  I’ve unwittingly gone elbow-deep in huge tangles of the stuff and regretted it for weeks.)

Since the anti-herbicide policy has been broken anyway, I got the full spectrum stuff and am using it to take out as much English ivy as possible.   The current plan is to let the ivy die off for two weeks, then remove the dead growth and roots, then work back into the tree line where the rest of the poison ivy lurks with a-venomed tendrils.  After that, we’ll dump 3 inches of the brick rubble on the lowest areas of the incline to try and minimize the slope, followed by dirt, lots and lots of dirt, some more dirt, and grass seed.

Design-wise, the goal is enhance the natural fall of the land so the eye (and body) moves down from the top of the garden stairs to the sidewalk to the pool.  The lawn area is currently a pit of sorts, with a three-foot ditch at one end.  The brick rubble will be used to level out the ditch so water doesn’t collect there and turn the grass all brown soggy-pants.  It would be nice to level out the entire area but there’s not enough rubble to do that, so we’ll eventually add a retaining wall or some stairs so it looks as though we purposefully intended to make a gradual transition downwards and were not just being cheap.

But!  You say.  What’s this about not having enough brick rubble?  After all, you say, what about this picture from last year?

Me, pondering our thirty-year mortgage, holding back tears.

Well, about a third of it went away thanks to a Craigslist offer for free antique pavers. The other two-thirds have been sifted and sorted and most of the usable bricks have been stacked.  Some of them still have cement on them and need to be cleaned up with a chisel and a power saw, but the hard part is done.

There's another 2 piles of these rough bricks on the other side of the picnic table, and about 500 more bricks cleaned up like new and resting comfortably under the Happy Tarp, dreaming their sugarplum dreams of raising property values.

The fill will be made from those remaining bricks too broken to salvage:

Stack o' bricks, firmly beaten.

These pavers will become a brick sidewalk.  The garden stairs currently open onto a pathway made of a bunch of slate stepping stones: there’s little rhyme or reason to these stones, and if you scroll back up to the first image in this post, you can see them in the lower right-hand side all lazying around and smoking and getting covered with weeds and junk.  These slate stones will be removed and reused somewhere else (under the Japanese maple, maybe?), and the brick sidewalk will not only be safer to walk on but will be ivy control as installing it will cut through any ivy roots running under the slate.

Next?  Brown promised to post a picture of a snake he found on the front lawn.  Mainly to shut me up, mind, but it is an adorably precious species of snake.

3 thoughts on “Bricks, Conquered

  1. We LIKE rough green snakes – they eat other critters! As for the “lawn” area, I’m voting for a car dealership for sentient asparagus. Makes as much sense as anything else.

  2. Awwwww, pretty snake. Not quite as fancy as an emerald boa, but definitely green. (We don’t have those around here either, but there’s a family of them at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Baby emerald boas are bright red.

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