One good thing about the COVID lock-down of 2020 was DIY projects! This was our first one and let me just say I'm freaking proud of US! We are NOT handy. At all. Or I guess I should say we were not handy pre-COVID. We've managed to figure a few things out over the last year so now we are almost handy, thanks to Pinterest and YouTube.
Identify the Problem and the Solution
For us, we were trying to solve the mud problem caused by our dogs jumping off of the deck and destroying our grass. We needed a landing zone for their massive weight and momentum. Bonus, turns out it also serves to keep their nails filed down!
Find some pics.
Pinterest took care of that for us in just a few minutes. Here are some of our top picks (haha do you get the pun?)
Measure Your Space
We drew a rough sketch of the space we needed to cover and took measurements across varying points of the diameter, as well as the full length across. With this in hand, we were able to talk to the supplier and get a good estimate on how much we needed for our project.
Get a Grass Cutter
We rented ours from Home Depot for a half a day. No matter how big you think your SUV is, it won't fit. We had to come back with a pickup. We also ran into some issues because the grass was pretty wet and muddy, but once we got the hang of it, it went rather quickly. Ask the Home Depot staff to give you a run down on how to use it - how to lower the blade, start it and stop it, etc. Also make sure you know what is required to turn it back in - clean, full gas tank, etc. We ended up having to clean it in the Home Depot parking lot to avoid a cleaning fee.
We used spray paint to "sketch" out the area we wanted to cut in the grass, and then just followed the lines. It worked like a charm.
You will get some good sod pieces, so if you have a place to repurpose that grass, it's something to keep in mind. You will want to have the area prepped to lay the sod before it dries out.
Find Your Materials
We used a local Landscape Supply company (Ewing Landscape). They were extremely helpful and gave us quantity estimates based on our drawing and measurements. They only had two options for flagstone pavers, but we liked one of them and were thrilled with the price. They offered delivery but the timeline was pretty far out. We had access to some pickup trucks and were able to make the haul ourselves. Remember to bring a cover if you want to protect your truck - it's a messy endeavor!
There are some pretty big and heavy pieces - you will want gloves, a wheelbarrow and some serious strength to get the pavers to your project area. This was by far the hardest part of the project and will likely require some helping hands of some sort. For us, that's what sons are for!
Here's what you will need at the landscaping place:
Here are the tools you will need:
The was the most satisfying part! I have no idea why the sand came in two different colors. We used this step to finalize the grading and make sure it was as level as possible. We were going for an inch thick, preparing for the need to shimmy the stones into place.
Wait. I take it all back. All those things I taught you about being independent and strong minded. To be self confident and powerful. Never mind. I wasn't counting on that making you ready to leave. To fly away into the world. I want a do-over. Let's be farmers. They aren't allowed to leave. Or Germans. They all stay in the same house their entire lives - they just rotate floors. Great-grandma dies and everyone moves up a level. Let's do that. Forget about this college nonsense.
My daughter left me. And went to college. Looking back, I'm not sure she should be allowed do to that. Raising her was hard. My reward is for her to up and leave?
5:40 am. Alarm goes off. Supposed to be down in Colorado Springs for baseball in 2 hours. Check my phone. 12 missed calls and 2 voicemails. What the hell.
Voicemail #1: 1:23 am "Mrs. Bard. This is officer Johnson (this is a fake name - I picked Johnson because Jones seemed too plain) with the Douglas county sheriff's office. I have your daughter Ashton here with me. Unfortunately she will have to spend the night in the county jail if you or Mr. Bard are not available to pick her up immediately. My number is... "
Ok. This sucks.
Voicemail #2: 1:58 am "Alisa its Jim. I have Ashton and Lizzy and Kelsie. I talked to the cop and convinced him to let me take Ashton home with me. So she's at my house. Call me when you get this."
What. The. Hell.
Where is Autumn? He didn't say anything about Autumn. Shit I've lost Autumn and my daughter may or may not be in the county jail. And I have to shower and be at a baseball game an hour and a half away....in 2 hours. This is going to be one crappy day. Wait. JIM has Ashton??? (Footnote / Autumn is Ashton's friend whose parents are vacationing in Hawaii, and of whom I am currently legal guardian for the next 10 days.)
After a complete freak out that awoke the entire household, I went upstairs for a some reason and checked Ashton's bed. There was Autumn. Asleep in the bed. Also there were two human shaped lumps that were apparently created to look like Ashton and Lizzy.
Long story short the three of them had decided to throw a party at Autumn's empty house, whose parents were in Hawaii. The party got busted and Autumn and Ashton were pulled over for being out after curfew. I had to make an unfortunate phone call to Hawaii and they got grounded.
3 years later after all I've done for her she's leaving me. For college I guess.
"Alisa, put the eggs down we have to drive her to the ER. It's faster than waiting for an ambulance."
Says my friend holding my 2 year old baby in her arms. With my 2 year old baby's blood. All. Over. Her. I took a look and saw her skull through the gash in her forehead and freaked out. I was 8 months pregnant with her brother. There was also another kid there somewhere who was mine. He was one something. I for the life of me can't remember what we did with him. Surely there was a babysitter involved. I'll have to ask Kristen.
OK I remembered - the neighbor came over and watched the siblings. Whew.
So I climbed into the backseat of her minivan and held a wet towel to my baby's bleeding forehead while Kristen raced us 30 minutes into town to the ER. We didn't have cell phones then, and my husband was on the baseball field, so getting ahold of him was tricky. I finally got his secretary to go down and tell him to meet us at the hospital.
When we got there, the ER doctors refused to put stitches in her tiny forehead, so we waited several hours for the plastic surgeon to get out of surgery. Did I mention I was 8 months pregnant? He and the nurses decided rather than strapping our baby down, we would all hold a limb. Good idea if I weren't already quite traumatized (and yep, still pregnant.) One look at the anesthesia needle being plunged into the window to her brain and I suddenly found myself sitting in a chair in the corner of the room being cared for by the nurses. Geez way to be tough.
They all got through the procedure splendidly without me, and 40 tiny stitches later we were on our way home.
I held a towel to your bleeding head. Another reason you can't leave me.
I have always loved to write. Over the years I've put my thoughts, experiences and opinions on paper. Some of these posts are old and some are new.