Mother nature has shown her wet side over the past several weeks. I’ve wanted to take advantage of her free water after re-seeding the front yard, but needed to till the area in order to loosen the dirt and change the grade first. Since tilling super wet soil would be next to impossible, I’ve been waiting for a rain free weekend, which has not been forthcoming. Wednesday marked three straight days of sunny dry weather with rain returning the next day, so this was the day I decided to rent a rear-tine tiller and knock this project off my list.
It’s hard to tell from the featured image, but the area was like a rolling hill. When the lead line was replaced last year Cincinnati Water Works dug up most of the area and did me a favor by removing the sidewalk to nowhere that cut across the front (Side Story: Prior to my purchase, my neighbor decided to widen their driveway by moving their fence about two feet onto my property negating the ability to walk around the side of my house and leaving me a sidewalk to nowhere.) It lowered the soil at the foundation and left an improper slope.
The easy way to fix that area would be with a small bobcat, but I’ve never worked one of those and a landscape company wanted $500 or more. Tilling the area to break up the soil allowing me to shovel and move it with a wheel barrel or rake it was something I could handle. It took four men to lift the tiller into my PT Cruiser and all swore it wouldn’t fit. With ramps I got it out and in by myself. Out by putting it in neutral and using gravity to let it roll down the ramp; in by driving it up the ramp. Men.
I started in the area around the clump of mature trees I allowed to stay when I was clearing all the other trees from the backyard in anticipation of the garage apartment I plan to build. I was getting such grief about cutting down so many trees that I decided to leave these, but I removed the rusted chain link fence that was not encompassed by the trees. I also had to create dirt to fill the tripping hazard trench I created when I dug up all the flower bulbs someone had planted. The plan is to fill bare areas with grass and then I’ll make small flower beds with mulch to make it look intentional.
I won’t address the backyard or the tree stumps until the garage construction begins.
I had a couple of bare spots that I made worse, intentionally, just so I could have the seed in loose soil. Then I turned my sights on the primary area. I called my cousin Zachary to come by the house about 2pm to help me load the unit back in the car (I called him after watching 4 men struggle, I hadn’t used it yet to know in gear 1 it moved slow enough to drive it into the back of my car). Well at 2 pm I hadn’t made a dent, so thankfully when my aunt brought him over he stayed until his mom got off work and picked him up, about 3 hours
He helped me install most of this small retaining wall (short 8 blocks) I needed to hold the dirt that I wanted to fill in around the downspout connected to the drain (made necessary due to the fence move, I lost the space to create a natural slope). I’ll probably need a few bags of top soil to fill it in more, but I’ll deal with that when I put the landscaping in. I got most of the tilling and dirt hauling done with Zachman’s help.
I moved to the backyard and the area around the air unit as I needed to lower the side in front of the unit and I want to get some grass in the area. Eventually I’ll build a deck off the back door, but until then I’m tired of my dogs tracking in mud. Dark fell before I could get the seed down. The worst part of physically taxing projects is being forced to stop before you’re done. My lower back, arms, and shoulder ached and I knew I’d be stiff the next day, but rain was in the forecast. I had to suck it up and finish in the morning.
On the wall I needed two half pieces, so I pulled out my trusty grinder and cut as deep as I could on all four sides. I then put my chisel in the groove and hit it with my small sledge hammer, three whacks before it cracked, clean.
I used a drop spreader to apply the seed, racked it slightly before applying the fertilizer. I am not going to put down straw. At the last minute I decided to purchase 6 pieces of sod to place on the curb section. It was only 3′ x 12′ and my hopes is that by seeing grass my neighbors won’t drive on it when they park in my spot. I tried seeding that area last summer, but didn’t water it enough it keep it growing. I had 1 1/2 pieces of sod left so I placed them along the wall to hopefully stop the soil from washing out onto the sidewalk when it rains. With the change in slope it should happen less, but having instant grass in that area should stop it altogether.
Hopefully in about two weeks I’ll be posting pictures of a yard with grass. I’m hoping this, along with planting some shrubs on the right side of house will give her a more satisfactory curb appeal, as painting may not happen this year. Come on rain!