26 October 2010

On the fence.

I've eliminated a lot of fencing options, but there are still plenty of designs and variations left to ponder. First there's the fence panel shape to consider. There's curved concave:

stepped concave:


and straight:

Then there's the post style. You can choose to add moulding:

cut the ends:

add a cap:

or a finial:

or cut it lower than the pickets so it all but disappears:

And if that wasn't enough, you still have to decide on pickets. There's dog-eared pickets:

gothic style pickets:


and flat:

and any shape you can imagine:

not to mention your choice of picket width and spacing. You can even alternate picket heights:

Is it any wonder that I get utterly overwhelmed with the choices?

25 October 2010

The plan

After much nagging insistence, I finally convinced my sister, a landscape designer, to draw up a plan for my new flower bed. My requests:

1. Peonies! Beautiful, beautiful peonies. I love the big blooms and am fortunate enough to live in a perfect climate for growing them.

2. Low maintenance. Do I even need to explain why?

3. No reds or deep pinks to clash with the brick of the house and flower beds.

Here's what she came up with:

I don't know if you can read the labels, but the big pink circles are peonies, the green is iris, the yellow is tulips, and the blue is crocus. Since she didn't do any specs for exact varieties of the plants, it was up to me to make sure I selected plants with different bloom times. March blooms:

April blooms:

May blooms:

I couldn't find peony root stock locally, so I ordered those online. I got two different varieties, the Solange:

and Sarah Bernhardt:

Hopefully all the colors will work together and not fight each other for attention. My mom assures me that "peonies thrive on neglect," so it might be something even I can manage. I can't wait for spring to show them off!

22 October 2010

Tah dah!

Building this tiny little wall (a measly 50 linear feet) has taken so long I can't even remember when the whole process started. Alas, the bricks are done. There is still much to be done, so this isn't a true before-and-after. I still have to build ANOTHER one and build the fence. Hopefully I've learned enough from the first raised bed to make the next one go faster. Anyhow, here's how it looked before:

And here is the much-anticipated wall in all her glory:

Yeah, pretty unimpressive for as long as it took me. I made lots of mistakes (like deciding to build this thing in the first place), but let's just call it charm, shall we?

11 October 2010

Nope, still not done.

I've had a lot of people stop by to check on the progress of our little project. As it has been built, reactions have evolved from, "What in the heck is that?" (when we were digging the trench) to "Are you building a flower bed?" to "You sure know what you're doing!" to "Are you for hire?" and "You've been out here all afternoon. Here's a cold Pepsi to drink." That's a good sign, right?

06 October 2010

This is not an update.

I'm only half-breaking my promise not to update until the wall was completed. It's been cold and rainy here, so building the wall has been a no-go. However, I did get a visit on Monday afternoon just as I started working outside from a previous owner! I could tell he is the sort of person who loves to talk and tell stories, so I picked his brain about the house. Some things I found out:

1. The bricks we've been digging in the yard weren't there originally.

His brother (who is now 66) installed them, so they've probably only been there for 30 years. Yeah, *only* 30 years. The family owned a construction business (the largest in town at the time), and whenever they had to dig up roads or alleyways, he'd gather the bricks and use them in the yard. That explains why there are so many different stamps on the bricks.

The bricks that I found more recently, buried next to the sidewalk, simply lined a flowerbed. The flowerbed contained 4 rosebushes, 2 of which still exist.

His green-thumbed grandmother planted them, and they're over 100 years old.

3. I speculated that the side porch was not original, due to the different mortar thickness and color and the fact that it's not integrated into the pilaster very well.

I was partially right. He told me that a drunk driver ran into it, but that it was rebuilt the way it was. So, the work is new (relatively), but the design and materials are original. He also said that the original owners had run short on money when building the house next door, so their porches were done in wood instead of brick.

4. A mysterious pole in the side yard, that our neighbor warned us could be a vent (for what I don't know) and we therefore shouldn't remove it, is just part of an old clothes line. It's probably not even anchored in cement, so it should come out pretty easily.

5. According to him, the state gave them virtually no time to clean out the house before a forced sell date. I can only assume there were back taxes owed on the property. He said they threw out all sorts of historically significant items, including original blueprints to local landmarks (remember, his family owned a construction company) including the stadium (the original home of what is now the Detroit Lions). Being a lover of historic architecture, knowing these were thrown away breaks my heart.

And the absolute BEST part is that he's going to give us some old photos of the house and surrounding area! I may be a total architecture nerd for loving such things, but I won't apologize for it.

03 October 2010

Are we there yet?

Here's how it's looking now:

Leveling each brick is tedious.

We were rained out today (rain also cut our work short yesterday), but I look forward to finishing the first course soon. Hopefully tomorrow, if weather permits. No more pictures or updates until it's done...so I'll see you in a few years.