We’re starting the project of landscaping the backyard. The first thing we need to do is clear it of the weeds and junk that has piled up over the last several years. Thankfully, I am not short of energy and also have a willing next door neighbor who is eager to assist. The strange thing I’ve noticed about the backyard is the dirt seems to have been brought in from a land fill. We did not do this, but we’re assuming this was done by one of the previous owners of the house. Why am I making this assumption? Almost on a daily basis, I have found several pieces of glass, a bungie cord, a rusted ratchet wrench, an electrical plug, an pipe elbow, pieces of children’s toys (i.e., small tires, tiny plastic balls, tiny doll arms, marbles, etc.)…and the list goes on. It’s amazing what I pull up out of the dirt here.
Since we need dirt to do cob building, I have decided to kill two birds with one stone by digging and loosening up the first 3-4 inches of soil in the back, skimming that off to the side (while picking out the garbage) and reserving it for the cob mixture. There’s a lot of clay in this dirt back here, too, which is one of the ingredients used in cob. Later, we may truck in cleaner soil if we need it. This skimmed-off dirt should serve the purpose of building the cob dog run wall, flower beds and bench. Let the building and landscaping begin!! WOOT!
A note on this picture: The original fence can be seen in the darker sections toward the back corner. However, high-powered winds are part of the climate here in the Inland Empire and during a particularly nasty wind storm, 3/4 of the fencing was blown over. The bank of the house next door – when it was going through the sale process – put up a cheap and ugly fence beside the older sections that survived the winds (that’s the more golden-brown fence section next to the blonder wood). Another storm came through…and those new sections came down as well – save for the one still standing. With the quick wit of my husband and the assistance of our neighbor on the south-side of the house (John), they constructed an inexpensive, alternating plank fence that allows for privacy while also allowing the wind to move through. (Click on the picture to see a close-up.) We just recently had another wind storm tear up the backyard…and the new fence is still standing! Yahoo! We will continue that fencing for the rest of the yard during this landscaping process and then paint the planks (we’re thinking for now) a dark, chocolate brown. One step at a time, but always moving closer to our goal!
We’ve churned up and scraped about 1/2 the yard, using a spade shovel to overturn the top six inches in chunks, then use the rototiller to break the chunks up. With a large rake and a wheelbarrow, we’re moving the top 3-4 inches of soil to the back corn (note the pile and wheelbarrow). In the process, we’re separating the weeds and the garbage we find. It’s moving along faster than I anticipated. We did the above in about 7 days, maybe 1-2 hours per day. I’m also breaking down any trash and either recycling or reusing. For example, we have a lot of debris from previous construction done in the front. We recycled most of it through 1-800-got-junk, had some of the metal scraps recycled, and now I’m breaking down the miscellaneous wood and junk. Bit by bit, that is going into the trash and we’re utilizing the old bricks and cement for the base of the cob structures we’ll be building. Lots of hard work, but very satisfying! We’re on our way!