Sunday, April 26, 2020

A mostly complete project

Considering how much time we have while stuck at home under lockdown, there should be plenty of time to do a lot of projects around the house. There’s a lot of time to be filled, after all. Nevertheless, some of us with so little to do still manage to do very little. Not necessarily for lack of trying, though.

I had a few projects I planned to get done during the lockdown, and did most of them. I added some, too. One of my “big projects” around the house was to put stones in a sort of “trough” between the driveway and the footpath leading to the front door (before and “after” photo is above). Naturally, there’s a story to that.

When I first saw the house, the trough was empty, and the lawns non-existent (the real estate photos had grass photoshopped where the lawns should be, but I saw the house before I ever saw those photos). When I bought the house, the builder offered to put either bark or white stones into the trough, and I wasn’t keen on either.

The problem with bark is that it has to be topped up all the time (and cats, um, like to visit bark…), but I didn’t want that, anyway: I wanted stones. That was so that if anyone accidentally drove onto it, they wouldn’t sink into the trough. Also, the trough is right next to where a car would be parked, and I knew that it would take a little care when getting out of a car to avoid falling into the trough, something I quickly confirmed when I moved in. In other words, I wanted stones, something resilient, but very low maintenance. Just not white stones.

Since the house is white, and at the time the concrete of the driveway and the footpath was new and quite white, too, I felt white stones would be too bright. So I decided I wanted grey river stones, and I also decided to take care of it myself to make sure I got exactly what I wanted.

After the house in Auckland sold, I started getting ready to take care of that among other projects—mere days, it turned out, before New Zealand went under lockdown, so my preparations turned out to be a bit rushed.

I bought the initial bags of base course stones on the Saturday before lockdown, but I could see where we were headed, so I went back out on Monday and bought more, along with bags of the grey river stones I wanted because I was afraid I wouldn’t get a chance to get them before lockdown.

Almost as soon as I got the bags of rocks home I worried that I hadn’t gotten enough—but there was no way to get any more: It was already too late. Partly because of that, I kept putting the project off.

Until yesterday.

First job was to put weed mat underneath, and I had an attack of the stupids, the sort most people would never admit. But, I’m not most people.

The weed mat package said it was 1.83 metres wide by 5 metres long. I pulled it out so I could pre-cut it to the correct width for the trough. “This is not 1.8 metres,” I thought to myself. I cut four pieces to get me started, and went out to place it.

I used some short galvanised nails to secure it; normally very long metal staple-like things are used, but I was concerned there might be a drain under there somewhere, and didn’t want to risk poking a hole in it. I got one piece secured at the far end, then another next to that, but when I started to put the third piece into place, I noticed something: It was folded over. It turned out that, unfolded, it really was 1.83 metres wide. Oops.

I re-laid out the second that third pieces (but not the first), which meant the fourth fitted perfectly. Part one of the project was successfully completed—ultimately.

The washed ex-lawn rocks.
The next job was to put in the base course of stones, but first I had a task to complete. A month ago today, I wrote about “terraforming” the section, and mentioned picking up rocks in the grass, some of which turned out to be bits of concrete from the construction of the house. I washed them off (so I wouldn’t introduce any dirt), then put them into the trough first (in the middle photo above, which also shows the weed mat I'd put in place). I then poured the bags of base course stones into the trough and levelled it off, more or less. It turned out that while I probably could have used a bag or two more, it was pretty good—good enough that I decided to go ahead and put on the bags of river stones.

When I emptied the third bag of river stones, I realised I had two or three bags too few (right photo up top, which also shows the base course at the bottom): The trough is filled from the top, and will gradually slide down the slope, but that will leave the top kind of skimpy.

The top portion of the trough,
more or less what it'll look like
when it's done.
From Tuesday I should be able order more stones, though I’m not sure if it’ll be delivered or if I have to pick it up. In any case, doing the project so close to the end of lockdown means it won’t have to sit unfinished for too long. Still, it’s mostly done, and I can at least see that I’m happy with my choices.

Another lockdown project is (mostly) complete. Something else to (mostly) check off my To Do List, Lockdown Edition. It’s true that with so little to do, I’ve managed to do very little, and so, there are still some other projects waiting. With at least two weeks at Alert Level 3 (“Lockdown Lite”) ahead of us, I just might get a little done on those other projects, too. Maybe.

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