Thursday, March 20, 2014

- Go Out In the Yard and Play: Hauling rocks the easy way

Being an inveterate reader as a child, I often heard my mother say "Why don't you go outside and play?"

"Why?" I would wonder. To this day, I need to be motivated to put down the book, stop stitching, get out of the kitchen, or finish the latest blog post and get outside. But this week, with the belated arrival of spring weather and our new gardening toys, it hasn't taken nearly as much coaxing to get me out the door.

Our latest garden project has been creating a new front walk to replace the paving stones that were moved to the end of the driveway (Rock 'n' Roll). As you can see, their departure left behind a fair mess.

Don arranged to have 3 cubic yards of decomposed granite delivered by Gardenville, then he began the heavy work of digging out the buffalo grass sod and relocating it to bare patches in the lawn.

His reward? Once the path was cleared  and the granite was laid in, he got to use his new tamper ...

while I kept busy hauling rocks from the floodplain to edge the path. In the past, that meant bumping a wheelbarrow up and down the east trail ... hard work and not much fun.

I figured there had to be a better way. Now Carl Sagan once said "They laughed at the Wright Brothers, but they also laughed at Bozo the Clown."  Indeed, Don mostly laughed when I told him my idea for an alternative to the wheelbarrow. 

I can't claim credit for the idea, which was suggested by one of our tree trimmers (who also seemed to be exceptionally good at taking the path of least resistance). However, I'm pleased to report that I got the last laugh: $15 for a plastic cement mixing tray at Lowe's and an old piece of rope resulted in a modern-day sledge that is actually fun to pull over hill and dale. It fairly skims over the rocks and roots that used to stop the wheelbarrow dead in its tracks. And I'm getting a seriously good workout since I can manage far more trips than ever before.

I also get double-duty out of each round-trip by cutting out prickly pear cactus along the way to the floodplain ...

Note the yard stick scale: the tray is about 2' x 3'

then depositing the water-laden cactus pads on one of the three new compost piles along the east trail (there are three more compost piles closer to the house ... we're big into turning yard waste into black gold). While cactus pads will reroot themselves if left in contact with the ground, we have found that burying them deep in live oak leaves (next week's project) ensures that they decompose instead, although the process takes at least a year.

In the end, thanks to the new tamper and stone delivery systems, Don was able to finish the new front walk in just a few days. The decomposed granite base is far better (read safer) than the old hump-backed paving stones ever were and the firmly tamped surface should keep any granite from being tracked into the house. Now on to the oak leaves!

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