Monday, June 26, 2017

The Gazebo Project

My back yard is a disaster area.

When we moved to this house sixteen years ago, I left behind a yard with a freshly-built deck, a beautiful pergola over a concrete patio, festooned with flowers in all manner of containers, English-style perennial gardens and a hot tub.  Little did I know that was the last I would ever see of a habitable back yard. 

About a year after we moved here, we attempted to begin customizing the back yard to our own tastes.  The previous owners had been into vegetable gardens and fruit trees.  I preferred decorative plantings.  After ripping out berry bushes and apple trees, a chain-link fence and a withered wisteria, we tried to put in the kinds of things we wanted.  THAT was when we found out that our home had been built on layer upon layer of hard-compacted construction fill, heavy on gravel, rocks, and clay.  When it took us four hours to carve out a planting hole for a small plum tree—resorting to a maul and pick-axe when shovels proved utterly ineffective—we knew we were doomed.

Over the years, we have managed to plunk a few things in the ground that actually grew, but everything is always stunted and contorted;  the plants use up 95% of their energy just trying to send roots through this nightmare soil.  A few years ago, we gave up and literally graveled the entire back yard.  Unfortunately, the gravel I chose turned out to be a perfect growth medium for the native weeds and grasses that are so hardy and plentiful around here.   Weeds, I can grow, with wild abandon.  Plants from the nursery, not so much.   

The past several months, I have looked out over my domain from my coffee deck in the morning, despairing about my yard on two levels:  1.)  It looks like crap, which just bugs the shit out of ME; and 2.)  We have to sell this place in a few years, and NOBODY is going to buy it with the yard in this condition. 

Add to this the dynamic of yard work in the Raminiak household:  Wife can’t do it alone, but husband H.A.T.E.S. to work in the yard.  So when wife is fortunate enough to cajole the husband into helping with a project, it is done as slapdash as possible because husband has no actual interest in the project and couldn’t care less how it turns out.  Which is largely how the place got to looking as bad as it does.

And, of course, there is our chronic lack of anything resembling the sort of disposable income a decent yard makeover would require. 

My landscape design has been distilled to two imperatives: cheap and simple.

When I got it into my head that I would like a small gazebo to replace an overgrown perennial garden—the last vestige of green in the sea of gravel—I quickly realized that the thing I wanted was going to cost $2000 for a KIT…which would mean we would shell out the funds and then have to build the thing.  Not gonna happen.  So I began scanning my go-to resource:  Craigslist.

And wouldn’t you know, I found exactly what I wanted.  A FREE 4’ x 4’ gazebo.  Just go and figure out how to disassemble it and get it out of this guy’s back yard.  I emailed the guy.  He got back to me a couple days later with the information that someone had beaten me to the punch.  Damn. 

We ended our correspondence with the agreement that he would contact me if, for some reason, the lucky first party could not make the thing happen.  And I figured that would be a cold day in hell.

Lo and behold, a couple weeks later, hell got a dusting of snow.  Because gazebo guy emailed me that the first party had been unable to figure out the logistics of removal, and was I still interested…?


This post has already become WAY longer than I had originally intended.  Let me just tell the rest in pictures:

This is how it looked when we first saw it. 
 Cute.  Sturdy.  The roof a little worse for wear...  But FREE!


OK...we got the roof halfway off (weighs a ton, by the way...)
Now what?

                                              Success!  Out of the back yard, 
on the trailer, and ready to go home!

Now it's in OUR back yard...
Waiting for the husband to rent a forklift to set it in place--
(this is to be his birthday present, believe it or not;
the forklift part, not the gazebo...
as long as there is a big boy toy for him to play with, he's happy.)

I will post another picture after it's in place.  And maybe a pic or two of the forklift operation...

1 comment:

  1. Hallelujah! Hope the reassembly goes as planned. How about just killing off the weeds and using potted plants? Or research a good creeping plant that can grow in rock-scrabble soil?
    Visit me @ Life & Faith in Caneyhead. 😉