The Landing (I)

Brooke here:

Thanksgiving looms.  Thanksgiving looms large.  We had two major projects to finish before family arrives.  The first was the small bathroom, and the second was the landing between the primary fence posts.  The weather was lovely last week, so we flipped these and went after the landing first.

I didn't take any Before pictures, so I went back in the archives to March of last year. This was taken right after Brown pulled out the old fence.

Let me put up a picture with the area in question mapped out for clarity:

The purple section is the topic of this blog post. Other changes since March of last year are... RED; Tree has been removed, and YELLOW: Added 50 pounds, goofyness persists.

That purple area is a slope which somebody decided to cover in bags and bags and BAGS of driveway gravel for traction.  It wasn’t an unmanageable slope, but the slope and the gravel didn’t do anyone any favors by being there, so they had to go.   Brown and I got started last weekend by carving out the space for the landing and roughing up the dig site, and from Monday through Friday I cut out the rest and hauled dirt

I personally dug out and moved 25 wheelbarrows full of rocks and clay last week. I also lost four pounds and my back feels like a tiger is living in it and has decided it wants out.

By Saturday, we had achieved had a nice, flat landing about 15 feet long and 5 feet wide.  The cut was 9 inches down at its deepest point, but since the slope didn’t start out being level it was only about 5 inches down at its shallowest point.

(I should mention this is also part of the drainage project, as the overall angle of the slope pointed down towards our house, specifically at our basement.  Leveling this area has changed the path of the water, but probably not in a way that will solve the worst of the flooding.)

I called it quits when I began to hit lateral roots.  We’re not messing around with a tree’s support system when it’s ten feet from the front door.

Brown placed a spare 4×6 to form an erosion barrier against this wall.  We stabilized it with some leftover 18″ landscaping spikes we had used to make the garden stairs a few months ago.

ME: If we hit a root, this is going to be a real pain to remove. BROWN: This is going to be a real pain to remove whether we hit a root or not.

Then I threw a heck of a lot of dirt back on the area we had just cleaned and leveled, and raked it flat.

Bed prepared for slate.

Why more dirt?  Because most slate pieces aren’t entirely flat and each piece needs to be cradled down into the dirt, or it will rock when you walk on it.  A thick earth bed will allow slate to sink and will stabilize them.

Like Tetris, only messier and can be used as weapons.

After the slate was positioned, I dumped another wheelbarrow full of dirt on them and raked it into the cracks.

And STAY there.

Then I ran the soaker hose until the dirt turned to mud.  It will take a few rainstorms and several additional layers of dirt to stabilize these pieces, but they are fairly solid now.

Done! Wait... why does it look slightly half-assed?

And here’s the part where I tell you guys that in the spring, we’ll rip all of this out and redo it.

Decorative cement paver kit! We'll stick it between the fence posts and give the landing some instant Woo!

See, we needed to start working on the drainage problem and the landscaping, but our budget is such that we can’t do much.  After the holidays we can start dropping cash into the house again, but between then and now it is Not About Us.  Next year, we’ll take up the slate, re-level the ground, and remove the beam we put in to control erosion around the roots.  Then we’ll put in a couple of permanent stairs, a small retaining wall around the curved sections, and finish it off with a cement paver kit similar to the one on your left.

Not a bad temporary job, though.  It looks better and the family can walk into the back without falling down a tiny rock-encrusted hill.  Now if we can just get the bathroom done in time…



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