Three years ago, my friend Keith helped me dig up the 110 year old sewer lateral to replace it due to root intrusion and a belly in the pipe. A 60 foot long trench started along side the house and it ended at the sidewalk.
After the sewer pipe was replaced and reburied, the dirt piles pretty much destroyed the grass. Repairing the grass was fairly easy but the side of the house was a bigger problem. This area was a combination of stones for a path and ferns along the fence. This garden area was a case of grand plans but once everything was planted and became a maintenance hassle, it was no longer maintained by the planner. Before the digging started to replace the sewer line, I spent a couple of weeks removing all of the plants and as much stone as possible. Unfortunately the ferns created a lot of compost that buried the stones. It was easier to use ecavator to remove the stones but they ended up mixed in with the dirt. Sorting the stones from the dirt became a project in itself with most of them on the bottom of the biggest pile. I also needed to deal with the grade from the back corner of the house to the front. At the back corner, the grade was about 4 inches higher than the top of the foundation. Not wanting to make this a major construction project, I decided that a simple 2×8 pressure treated boarder would be sufficient to deal with the grade and separate the dirt from the stones. This ended up being the first project of the five projects that intersected. As the stone sorting and boarder installation moved from the front to the back corner of the house, I discovered that the gate to the backyard needed to be replaced. This became project number two.
The third project was the need for additional water flow to supply the sprinkers in the backyard where the plum tree was removed several years ago. Since I had an abandoned line for the former vegetable garden, I extended this line around the Summer Kitchen to split the zone for the grass on the north side of the backyard. During this project I discovered that the wood boarder separating the flower bed from landscape stones was rotted. Project four was the installation of a brick boarder that used bricks from the old chimney.
After the brick boarder was complete, I decided to solve my stone shortage problem on project one by moving the stones from between the Summer Kitchen and garage to the area on the side of the house. I could than use the extra dirt from project one to plant grass by the garage. This was the beginning of project number five.
Another trench was dug and soon the inspectors showed up. There is something about a new hole that the dogs find fascinating. Maggie now has two sisters to help with the supervision of projects, Izzy (nose in lower left) and Hanna joined the family back in mid-October. They are both senior Boarder Collie mixes whose owner suddenly passed away. They are a bonded pair and the goal was to keep them together. We were looking for one dog but ended up with two amazing companions.
A sprinkler system was designed to work with the existing zone, assembled, installed, and the trench was back filled. The extra dirt from project one was moved to project five solving the problem of what to do with the extra dirt. More stones were discovered and sorted during this move.
Project five was still short on dirt so two bags of soil amendment was added which will help the grass seed get a good start. During the past three years there have been other big projects. The sorting of stones from dirt has proven to be cathartic after a challenging day at work. It has also served as a fill-in project where I could work for a hour or so when time allowed with just a bucket and gloves.
The alternative to this time consuming process would have been sending the dirt and stone mixture to a landfill and buying replacement dirt and stones. This seemed like a waste of resources and money when I was in no rush to complete these projects. The end result looks the same. Will I miss sorting stones from dirt? It has kept me busy while most everything has been shutdown. I will be happy to to find something else to occupy my free time.