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May 5, 2014 / JustinKays Porter

Concrete, Compost, and Sprinklers

What do you do when you’ve finished demo and can actually see what your backyard looks like? Start beautifying your newly exposed backyard! As soon as the miscellaneous structures attached to the house and the shop were gone, we immediately started planning our backyard. Other than demo and the planters, we hadn’t really done a whole lot back here after we bought the house. But seeing the backyard sans the West Wing really inspired us to get a move on!

See the large dirt patch in the back? So much more obvious now...

See the large dirt patch in the back? So much more obvious now…

The main goal for the backyard was to get a lawn in. I know, I know… we live in California, a state of perpetual drought. But the lawn isn’t very big, and we are definitely NOT putting one in the front yard. Can you tell I had to justify this a little bit? But how do you create a backyard oasis without a little bit of lawn? Okay, fine. There are lots of ways. I just wanted some lawn!

But before I get ahead of myself, there were a few steps to take before our lawn could come into being. First step: concrete. There are two big concrete patios in the back that come off the shop: one in the front at the shop garage door (that you see in most pictures) and another off the north side of the building, under a giant oak tree that lives in our neighbor’s yard. We wanted to create a sidewalk of sorts to connect the patios, as well as a concrete mow strip to encircle the rest of the future lawn. And this post is all about that!

IMG_3187

My dad, the lifesaver, spent a bunch of time the week before we poured concrete setting up the bender board forms while Justin and I were at work. I swear, we would have accomplished so much less on our house at this point if my dad wasn’t retired! He’s the best!

Forms in!

Forms in!

The first thing we had to do for concrete weekend (because our forms were already up), was head to the rockery and pick up the concrete.

The beer came later...

The beer came later…

Once the concrete arrived, we had to work like mad to get the concrete into the forms and start troweling the surface before it started to dry. Troweling is a continuous process, but you haven’t to make sure you start early or the concrete sets without you. Knowing we had a lot of concrete to pour, we had all hands on deck that we could recruit.

Matty B

Matty B

Troweling, troweling, troweling

Troweling, troweling, troweling

My grandpa even got in on the action!

My grandpa even got in on the action!

Maja

Maja

Faja

Faja

After the troweling was accomplished (hours and hours later) and the concrete was almost dry, we went back and brushed the concrete with an old broom to give it a little extra texture. And some handprints, because what concrete project is complete without handprints?

Brushing for texture

Brushing for texture

Handprints for personality

Handprints for personality

We kept watering down the concrete after all this was done, just to make sure it didn’t dry too fast and crack all over the place. We also went back to the rockery and got a giant pile of steaming, stinky compost so that our future grass would really take off and grow like crazy! And let me tell you, this stuff was rank. I apologize to our neighbors for that smell.

Watering down the concrete. And see the stinky stinky compost?

Pretty concrete and more stinky compost

Pretty concrete and more stinky compost

Lastly, before we could roll out the grass, we dug a bunch of trenches and put in sprinklers.

Lots of trenches. Note the rounded concrete corner in the foreground of this photo? I forgot to mention that my dad also cut the square corner into a nice round curve :)

Lots of trenches. Note the rounded concrete corner in the foreground of this photo? I forgot to mention that my dad also cut the square corner into a nice round curve 🙂

Now, with the concrete done, soil tilled and fertilized, and sprinklers in, our lawn prep was officially done. Next up: the lawn!

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