01 May 2011

We Cheated. A Little.

As you know, we've done the vast majority of our landscaping work ourselves. It's not because we are getting huge satisfaction from picking up rocks, moving dirt around, etc. on our own (to be frank, we're not), but largely because of dollars (and, to a lesser degree, not knowing whom to hire for some of this stuff). So to say that we cheated on the DIY aspect of the landscape...well, it would be just as accurate to say that we brought in a professional to professionally finish off a part of the work that we were having trouble with. No shame in that.

Our new driveway went in right after The Weekend of the Bobcat. The contractor brought their own bobcat to remove the old driveway, move dirt and sand around, etc. Meanwhile, we were still working on the last of our grading. The backyard was in pretty good shape, but we were going to have to put in a lot of manual effort to get a gentle downward slope away from the house in the front yard.

After tossing the idea around for a few days, we asked the contractor about finishing up our grading with their bobcat. (In addition to concrete work, they do construction "odd jobs" like grading, demolition, and haul-off.) They agreed to do it for what we thought was a very reasonable fee, considering how important grading is to a house's structural integrity. They pointed out that there was really more dirt on the lot than was ideal -- our difficulty getting the grading right stemmed from the fact that there was just so much dirt and no good place to put it. It was especially pronounced at the corner where the driveway met the street:

Our plan had been to move most of the dirt out toward the curb where it wouldn't interfere with proper drainage away from the foundation, and the sod would go over and around any bump. The contractor planned to haul away some of the excess dirt (the equivalent of a quarter of what we brought in), which we said was fine as long as they took away the under-layer of original dirt, not the good soil and compost that we had just added.

The plan was not without hiccups (one positive result of which was that they actually hauled off more "bad" dirt than they had anticipated), but eventually they got it done, better and certainly faster than we could have, leaving us time to work on the next phase of The Never-Ending Project. But, oddly, they also moved some of the good soil to the right side of the garage (which we hadn't discussed at all) and even spread it waaaaay onto our neighbor's lawn:

I was quick to apologize to him and let him know that we hadn't asked the contractor to, essentially, vandalize his property with compost. Fortunately, he took it in stride and didn't even want us to go to the trouble of raking it back to our side. Which was great because hundreds of feet of edging were already calling our names....

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