Hallelujah: A New Fence

Few things brought as much shame to this family than our fence. We live on a corner, and people from the North, the South, the East and the West would utter their judgements under their breath as they walked by. As they should have because it was a horrible abomination.

To the before:

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Pieces literally fell off daily.

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So it was time to replace it. We had visions of doing it ourselves, but we had been saying that for 6 years with nothing to show for it but a Pinterest board dedicated to fences. So we came across a phenomenal cedar lumber yard and Mark Wyman. And pulled the trigger.

Among the requirements: straighten out the incorrect fence location on the back property line, downplay the large garage behind us, add an additional gate on the side yard, build in a manner so we can replace the fence again without involving concrete 20 years from now.

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When digging the new holes for the post brackets, we came across the old, decommissioned oil tank a few feet underground. At this point, we could have moved the proposed fence line. But this would have messed everything up. The fence crew came up with the ingenious idea of cutting the bracket and welding the bottom portion on it’s side. Combined with an oversized footing and the overhead arbor, it should prove to be plenty sturdy. Thanks to my neighbor Bryce for the quick weld.

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We are incredibly pleased with the transformation and are looking forward to working in the backyard come spring time. Complete photo gallery here.

Porch Refresh

We have a long-term plan of repainting the exterior of the house. With that said, it’s a long ways out. When we replaced the first floor windows a few years ago, we committed ourselves to the new trim colors. Having enjoyed many a beer on the front porch, I spent too much time seeing old bubbling paint and the trim colors in transition.

So with a lack of planning, I decided to strip the window and door trim and rehab the original remaining window prior to repainting.

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With that completed, I turned my attention to the porch ceiling which needed to be brightened up. So cleaning, scraping, priming and painting…

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I am currently “in process” on the porch columns. 106 years of paint, weather and trim is hard to restore quickly. But it will look great…come springtime.

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Finished pictures to come soon. Entire exterior gallery can be found here.

Exterior Update

It’s only been 6 months since the last update – I’m pathetic. We actually have made some progress around the house since May.

We kicked off the summer by re-roofing the whole house. Some places we had two layers of composition shingles on top of cedar shingles. Other places we just had a couple layers of comp. Either way, we took it all the way down, put on new plywood, and reroofed it. And when I say “we,” I actually mean the roofers we hired. That is a job best left to the professionals in my opinion. They did a great job and I can’t tell you how nice it is to not find any shingles blown off in the yard or worry about a leak here or there.

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Once we were done spending money above our heads, we then proceeded to bury it beneath our feet: the joy of a new sewer line and water line. When we bought the house, we found out that our next door neighbor partied into our sewer line. That and our old sewer line curved out across the property line and then back. And had a minor crack in it. So the guys dug a couple deep holes (by hand) and then drilled and pulled a new sewer line in.

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I must say I was impressed – the whole process was so much slicker than trenching and laying in a new line. Two holes made it fairly non-invasive and then the fact that they can bend and pull a brand new line in like that was pretty amazing.

We have three street trees: two diseased cherry trees in front and one massive walnut tree on the side. The walnut has been ignored for quite a while so I did a bit of “limbing up.” These pictures were taken half way through but needless to say, the tree is happier for it.

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We spent so much time sitting on the front porch this summer, I eventually got perturbed by the old, bubbling paint on the front window trim. So I stripped the paint down to the original wood and primed it up. And that’s how it will stay until the spring.

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I had intended to get the fence replaced but the rain just got here to fast…or I’m just to slow. But I have settled on a design which is the first step. My plan is to hire somebody to set the posts and then I’ll take care of the rest. This is what I plan on doing but with a natural stain color.

I guess that project will have to wait until the spring.

Sunshine = Outside

With the weather ever-so-slowly improving, the indoor projects have been put on hold while our attention has been diverted outside.

A continual theme around these parts is less lawn and more plants. This go around I added a few more hydrangeas, rhododendron, azalea, and another Japanese maple. Some kind neighbors up the block ordered a bit too much compost and I was the lucky beneficiary. After trucking about 12 wheelbarrows down the block, our plants and beds look great!

Enlarged planting bed (ie, less mowing), compost, and a few additional plants.

Even the lawn is edged.

About this time, I was lucky enough to acquire a power washer: I think all men enjoy pressure washing. So I began cleaning the front steps…and then the front sidewalk, then the side sidewalk…you get the idea. I cleaned anything and everything. In some places, that meant removing 100 years worth of gunk.

It’s not a very exciting photo – but look at the improvement.

I eventually worked my way around into the backyard…oh, the backyard: the forgotten wasteland. We actually have a driveway but you would have never known it. It was grown over with plants and had huge piles of old dirt (as opposed to new dirt) and faded barkdust.

Christopher and I have already started clearing the driveway so this is the best “pre” shot we’ve got.

And this is the “post” photo. Clean driveway with a little seating area.

We’ve still got a ton of work to do but we actually use the backyard now. We of course need to get rid of grass, add plants, replace all of the fence…but at least we now have a place to sit down and rest. And drink beer and dream of a completed back yard.

Some Yard Work

With the sun that poked it’s head out over the last couple of weeks, the itch to get outside and work in the yard became too much to resist.  My trusty sidekick Christopher helped get the ball rolling by spreading some barkdust, shaping the lawn, and doing some serious digging to help plant some plants.

Training them early.

The barkdust was left over from the previous owners and was just enough to cover the slope, but we got some ground cover planted and it really helps show off the maple.

Maple and ground cover.

The biggest improvement was in giving the lawn some shape and a little bit of character.  I had transplanted some hosta’s and hydrangea’s over at my dad’s a few years ago and it was time to bring them back.  After dividing a few of them, they are just starting to come in now and should look great in the coming weeks.

Hosta's preparing to explode.

Progress.

Remove a few plants, add a few plants…we’re getting there.  Just for a point of reference, this is what we started with:

What the front yard looked like when we bought the house.

That plant on the corner was hideous. Not only did it block our view from the porch but it was prickly. Photos of the yard can be found here.