Sunday, March 05, 2006


A large part of our backyard is covered in concrete. Much more concrete than we'd ever wish to have. Yes, we know we bought a fixer-upper. We are getting rid of it slowly but surely. We just completed getting rid of the first big chunk of it, from jackhammering and removing the concrete, to brining in dirt, to seeding grass and composting. And thanks to the rain we're getting lots of free watering. Grow grass, grow. Here are some pictures from along the way.

The before picture:

The first half of the concrete removed, 3 hours of back-breaking work for Travis and the 80 lb jackhammer:

The second half done: (Please excuse the lower half of my body in the picture, it was the best picture to see all the concrete gone. Also, I had to document that I actually helped. Travis was so exhausted after the jackhammering that I agreed to shovel up and wheelburrow away the remainder of the concrete chunks.)

Wow, look at all that concrete gone in only 6 hours! Just a little bit of trim to finish up, right? Wrong! Turns out those corner pieces are extremely deep and it's another day of several hours with the jackhammer for Travis.

Also note that we removed the row of agapantha as well. We figured we might as well while we were working there, no problem, right? Wrong again. These plants have the most intensive, evasive root structure I've ever seen in my life. We were singing "Little Shop of Horrors" as we tried to remove all the roots.

But NOW it's finally all gone:

Next step, receive 5 cubic yards of dirt to your driveway.

At this point I decided I would help out again since the shoveling concret went so well last time. I sent Travis on to Home Depot with the kids while I started transferring the dirt to the backyard for him. By the time they were back I thought my arms were going to fall off and I had hardly made a dent in the pile. Travis polished it off in no short order. Turns out he can fill the wheelburrow much fuller than me and actually push it, and shovel much larger shovelfuls. Ah well, I tried.

The dirt transferal and leveling was a full weekend job. Then only the seed and compost was left to do, and of course a protective barrier from the kids. And it's done!

Now we just wait 2 to 6 weeks for the grass to germinate. Travis pointed out that everything grows in CA, maybe it will lean towards the 2 week side. I hope so, 6 weeks of suspence will kill me. Grass better grow there after all this. Did I mention that the very first jackhammering started in July?

Some more various pictures...

The infamous jackhammer. It belongs to our realator who is letting us use it for free, which is one of the reason we are doing this ourselves. After nearly a year, I wonder if he still remembers we have it. (If you look closely you can see one of those deep corner pieces under the jackhammer.)

As this all progressed Travis decided to "fix" a few other things in our yard while he was at it. Firstly, in one spot right in the middle of the grass there was what appeared to me as a bit of concrete someone dropped there and let dry. When Travis tried to shovel it up he found it to be rathar deep and required the jackhammer to get it out, which extended 2 or 3 feet under the ground! Luckily he had some extra dirt and filled it right in sans concrete. He assured me grass is versatile and will soon grow right back. At least dirt is less of a hazard to the kids than random concrete potholes in the yard.

In another area in the yard there was a small dip right before the concrete (that is still there) begins. Already one of Olivia's friends from our playgroup triped and blooded her toe on it. Travis decided he would dig up the grass in squares, fill it with dirt, and replace the grass squares. Thank you This Old House for the idea. It actually went much better than I expected, until it rained that night and it all settled right back to where it started. Ok, maybe it's a little less than a dip, but a dip nonetheless. Lesson learned, account for settling. And we're definately testing the grass-is-versatile theory. Look closely and you can see the squares Travis dug up.

Next on the agenda... There is always more concrete to remove: (One of our favorite passtimes is studying the sections of concrete. Such conversations can be overheard as "Well, if we remove this piece, we might as remove this one," and "I bet this random piece in the middle used to be a planter and when the plant died they just covered it in concrete.")

And this nasty, old shed has got to go. Why someone would put a HUGE metal shed right in the middle of a backyard is beyond me. And there is electricity running to it, making it even more fun to remove. We're aiming for next year.


  • At 11:41 AM, Blogger RLGelber said…

    Wow, that sounds like a ton of work. Did you try your hand at the jackhammer?

  • At 7:14 PM, Blogger Jen said…

    Wow...good going!

  • At 7:36 PM, Blogger allison said…

    It'll be great in no time!

  • At 2:14 PM, Blogger RLGelber said…

    I love your new banner!!!!

  • At 2:23 PM, Blogger Sraikh said…

    I am tired after reading your post. Hopefully your yard will be worth it :)

  • At 2:15 PM, Blogger nowwhatelmo said…

    That looks great! I am impressed with the work that you all did!

  • At 2:32 PM, Blogger catankgirl said…

    No jackhammering for me. That things weighs nearly as much as I do!

    It's been raining almost non-stop since we laid the seed. A little sun, and surely we'll have grass, right? Right? I cannot wait to see if it works!


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