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IMG_1091Alternate title: Somewhere in all this crap there must be a pony. Or a backyard patio.

Second alternate title: A yard that was TEN YEARS in the dreaming stage becomes reality.

Earlier this month, I hired the meticulous, hardworking, and talented landscapers at Down to Earth Landscaping to deal with all the mess that was my backyard. These guys are awesome, I tell you. If you’re ever in the market…

I digress.

The “yard” I had was a collection of weeds and tiny dog poop (because I gave up caring) on top of multiple ill-advised attempts at DIY landscaping. Underneath all that was a thick, deep, hard base of glacier clay. Man, these guys earned their pay and then some.

They started out by trying to kill the weeds and let it sit for a couple of weeks. That didn’t really work. They ended up having to bring in a sod cutter and manually scrape out the entire yard so that we could see what the canvas looked like and develop a plan from there.

Here’s their truck as they got started:

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Here’s the truck nearly full. When they were all done, it was even fuller than this, if you can imagine that. Man, I bet that stunk. I should have provided masks for them. I wasn’t joking when I said I gave up scooping the poop.

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Here is the northwest side of the yard after they pulled everything out. That’s some seriously deep mud there.

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About a week or so later, they’re back. Thankfully we had some dry weather and it gave the yard a chance to somewhat dry out.

First up is addressing the serious drainage problem that this yard has/had ever since it was built. The builders really did a poor job of figuring that out and left me, the original homeowner, to deal with fixing it. The trench on the south side of the yard that was dug 100% by hand. Aaron impressed the heck out of me. He dug through 24 inches of hard clay on a warm Pacific Northwest (or North-Wet, if you prefer) day to create this lovely French drain. My neighbor’s yard drains into mine (thankyouverymuch) so this drain is a necessity. They also put in a river rock drain on the north side of the yard. Both drains were thoroughly tested to ensure that they really worked. Unlike the measly attempt at a drain the builders put in that never worked.

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Bringing in the gravel.

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Laila checking out the studly workers. Ok, so she doesn’t yet know they are studly. She’s really more interested in the rocks.

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This has to be my all-time favorite picture – Laila helping Aaron, complete with yellow hard hat.

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Pavers chosen, purchased, and stacked ready for paving the new patio.

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Properly packing down the gravel and leveling the base.

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Who knew trowels were used in laying paver patios? I didn’t.

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The design takes shape. It didn’t matter too much to me how they chose to lay them, but the design they came up with was perfect.

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Almost halfway.

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John cut rebar to drill into the posts that created the edging of the patio. I think this is the detail that impressed me the most, so far. I would never have thought of this. Those edges aren’t going anywhere – I think those rebar pieces were at least 24 inches each.

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The finished patio. Pre-cleanup. I now have a patio large enough to have three distinct areas: a cooking area for the barbeque, a dining area, and a lounging area.

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You can see how the patio pavers wrap around the existing dinky concrete slab that was called a patio. (Note to self: Time to pressure wash.)

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From the window above.

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Looking south.

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The edging.

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The north side yard, complete with river rock, river bed drain. I’m sure there’s a technical term for that type of drain, as it is different than the other drain on the south side of the house. This side will also host a fire pit (in phase X).

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And, the best part? This was all completed on my birthday, May 15th. One of the best birthday presents I have ever given myself. I should have sent myself a card too.

Stay tuned for the fun phase – landscaping!

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