July 27, 2009

Can you see beyond the ugly NOW? (or Part III)

Blogsphere friends: I… am… sore!!Butterfly

I’ve been taking our DesignTies readers (you!) on my front-yard landscaping journey… from the creation of our plan to the removal of our mega-tree… and now here I am, achy and stiff, about to share what we’ve accomplished so far, particularly this weekend!! It’s not a full 100% transformation, but it IS a metamorphosis in the making! I think it’s a perfect addition to Susan from Between Naps on the Porch’s weekly Metamorphosis Monday blog party!

So… the last time I shared our landscaping story we’d just brought down our tree:

DSC02213 DSC02228


 All that was left was a major stump!

Well… and a view of our littlehouse :-)

Since then Brett the bobcat operator has been here and, with a great deal of effort, he’s pulled that huge stump right out of the ground!

DSC02352 DSC02358


And then he proceeded to tear apart the whole front yard in preparation for the building of the first of 3 retaining walls!


What a mess!

Even though I pride myself in being able to envision the possibilities of a space – and I’ve had success taking spaces from ugly to lovely - it’s been difficult to say the least to imagine our yard EVER looking good!


Of course, only hard work is going to make our yard beautiful… this weekend we finally got started putting the yard back together again! :-)

Here’s a photo of the blocks for one of our retaining walls being delivered…


Now let me tell you ~ Brian and I have NEVER built a block retaining wall before. Everything was new to us!! We’d researched as much as we could, and we’d planned and planned… but we still met with challenges! The first challenge: getting the main course of block down perfectly level and plumb, on a well-compacted surface.


Looks good so far, hey? It was… then we had to take it all apart when we realized that the drainage system we’d planned for behind the blocks wasn’t going to work the way we wanted. No worries, though. With a little brainstorming, we got it all figured out!

Here’s a photo of Brian and my son Matt getting ready to bury one of the drainage pipes.


By this point in our work day the sun was mid-way in the sky and it was HOT!

But we kept plugging away. I’ll tell you… that main course is the hardest!! You have to get it absolutely perfect, then the next levels lay so much more easily! Below = tools of the trade!


A little side story…

One of our cats – Scotty – was our supervisor! He would perch himself in a bush and keep an eye on our efforts. Every time we stopped working he’d meow, jump down and walk over to throw himself at our feet for some pets & scratches. Once he’d been fully rubbed in all his favourite spots he’d make is way back to his perch-spot! Funny guy!!!


Wouldn’t you know it, another challenge “struck”… literally; we were hit by a major thunder & lightning storm!! Let me tell you weather like this is very unusual for our part of the world, and the magnitude of this storm was over-the-top! According to the newspaper, over 1,100 lightning strikes in the greater Vancouver area with the storm lasting several hours!!


At first we didn’t mind in the least because the storm (which was still off in the distance) brought a little rain… and that little bit of rain felt so good after the heat of the sun on our backs!

The next thing we knew, the storm was directly overhead and hitting the power-line!! We heard the crack, the sizzle of the electricity running down the line and then an explosion as a nearby transformer blew! Well… we got the hint! Even though the cooling rain felt wonderful, we packed up our gear for the day and made our way in for the evening. And wouldn’t you know it… no power in the house! So we each had a shower by candlelight and then a quite evening spent bemoaning our sore bodies!

This is what we accomplished on Saturday:

DSC02392 Not very much for a full day’s work, hey?!

So we set to work again this morning (Sunday), only to find a new challenge (or roadblock, I suppose)… we didn’t have enough crushed gravel for our backfill. That meant that we couldn’t complete the full 5 levels today. Darn! I called the landscaping company and they’re dropping off more gravel tomorrow morning, so we’ll finish the wall in the afternoon.

BUT… we did get a few more courses/rows complete!! Take a look!!

DSC02395 And I’m LOVING how the stairs are looking!!

As I mentioned above, we have 2 more rows to lay… then the top of the wall will have capstones in the same charcoal grey colour as the stair caps. The stairs themselves will have 5 steps up and the caps will extend into those curved corners (still have to cut and place those).

Now you can see why I’m sore! Lifting blocks, shovelling gravel… I ache all over!

Next week sometime Brett the bobcat operator will be back to dig back and haul away the hillside of dirt in behind the wall. After that, Brian and I will start building our second wall (with 3 stairs in it) about 6 feet back from this wall.

Regardless of the work ahead of us (and even while I’m bemoaning my stiff old body!) I’m so happy with how this wall is looking!! I think it’s so much easier to imagine how great the yard is going to look. Don’t you find that it’s more possible to see beyond the ugly!

Don’t worry. I’ll post updates!!

Now ~ head back to Susan’s blog Between Naps on the Porch so that you can visit other Met Monday party participants’ transformation posts!!


I almost forgot!!

Be sure to enter our latest giveaway – a dynamically beautiful original abstract painting by Matt LeBlanc! All you have to do is name the painting (one word, please!). For details, and a look at the fabulous painting, go HERE.


Kat said...

I can't believe how much you got accomplished. I hope that you own stock in Advil lol. This is going to be so beautiful, can't wait to see the completed project. And I love your project manager - he is so cute! Cats really do make the best supervisors, don't they? Kathy (ps, you can send us some of that rain)

Things That Inspire said...

This is a dramatic transformation story! I love how your cat is the supervisor. I often think about painting when seeing a work in progress like this; there is a point when creating a painting where everything is looking kind of messy and ugly, but you have to work through it. Once you work through it, the beauty and form starts to emerge. I can't wait to see update pictures once your design starts to emerge, after laying such a great foundation!

Kammy said...

Hey Sassy Girl !
It is getting there....such a huge project ! I can hardly wait to see when it is what you have done so far !
Hugs ~ Kammy

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

It's going to look great Victoria! It will be worth the sore, achy backs and legs! I think you did well for the weekend, especially because you have to take so much time on that first course (being level and all).

Marie said...

It's looking great despite your sore bodies! Loved seeing a picture of your supervisor too, meow! :)

Unknown said...

What a huge understaking! It is looking real good so far! Can't wait to see the finished scape!


mrsben said...

Victoria, this is going to be absolutely gorgeous!!!!

Can relate to your aches 'n pains as did Landscaping upgrades last summer on both our front 'n back yards which were very labour intense. (Two postings on My Space/ mrsben)

Just try to pace yourselves and remember 'Rome wasn't built in a day'.


Marty@A Stroll Thru Life said...

Victoria, the wall looks fabulous so far. I know it will all look wonderful. Love the curve of the stairs. Hugs, Marty

Maya said...

It's looking great! And you were actually still outside when the storm hit the power-line..., I would have ran in the house after the first distant lightening.

qerat said...

WOW that is a MAJOR MAJOR project you got yourself into.
Love the stairs I am sure the retaining walls will look great.

Unknown said...


Bravo! I did the same kind of project with my husband when we moved into our home some time ago and now it's make-over time. Just take a Bayer aspirin before you get started outside. It really works wonders. I love do-it-yourself, it's really rewarding and with the internet you can plan out just about everything. Including the weather......sometimes.

Love this stuff.


Signing Out said...

I am sure it is hard work, but I think your landscaping will be fabulous when it in done! You're certainly off to a great start!


Danica said...

The stairs look great! Cats make good supervisors, don't they? And you save money, as they get paid in belly rubs! We had some pretty bad storms around my area as well, so I know how you feel. I'd have to agree with Maya's comment up above, I would have been inside as well. I got woken up by the longest thunder I've ever head. It sounded like the sky was breaking open. You're doing amazing work, keep it up!

Donna @ Paisley and Perspective said...

It looks great Victoria!

We've done some landscaping projects ourselves (although not on this scale) and remember all the aches and pains during and afterward. But I also remember the amazing sense of accomplishment we had in the finished product - because we had done it ourselves!

Great work and I look forward to the updates!

Lynn said...

I have been waiting all week to see the latest progress.
It must be so exciting !
For your neighbors, too!
The whole street is improving.

Claudia said...

This is where i wished i were a gazillion-aire. There is sooo much hard work going into this... please keep us updated... but no wonder you hurt.

You all should be exhausted.

TTFN~~ Claudia ♥

Brenda Pruitt said...

You've got WAY more nerve than I do to attempt such a thing! My hat is off to you. It is indeed looking good!

Brillante Interiors said...

It was so nice to meet you today (you look great) even if we did not have a chance to talk. Hope to meet you again soon. As for your personal project...way to go, congratulations!

Natural Stone said...

It's a wonderful job it looks really great!!

Michelle said...

What hard work...I'm tired just looking at these pics!!

Nice to see you yesterday!!



Looking good!!!

MoOt - Modern Ottawa Blog said...

Great job. Good thing the cat keep you focused :)

nannykim said...

It is beginning to look "swell"as they used to say ;-)

Susan said...

Look so great,,, I'm feeling pretty lazy right about now as I would normally hire someone to do this work. It's all about the gel nails I swear :)

Kudos to you, your hubby and son. I can't wait to see the final transformation. I just love a good before and after project.

With that said about my laziness I did, with Anita's help (my sidekick and right hand gal), hang wallpaper this week in 37 degree weather atone of my projects. Yeah that's right 37 degrees in high high humidity on PEI. I'm officially insane now!

And last but not least thank you so much for continuing to visit my blog and post your positive and uplifting comments. Kindred spirits.

Have a great weekend.
Susan- Susan on Design

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