Tag Archives: topsoil

The grass is greener on this side

Hey thanks for stopping in last week, even though I was on a self-imposed blogging break. I appreciate it!

There has been a few instagram (@duckeggblueblog) pics – which incidentally also end up on Facebook – of our front yard progress.

But if you’re like me, you’ll be wanting a step by step rundown all in one place so you can start at “hmmmm” and end up at “aahhhhh!” all in the one go.

So, remember we started here with pondering over the concrete turning bay in front of the house? It was very useful and meant we could both park in the drive and get in and out without shifting the other car. However, there is sooo much concrete around the house, and with the loss of the back lawn we were keen to make the front one as big as possible for kiddies (little and big) to run and play. Plus, there’s something nice about cars parked to the side of the house rather than right out in front. So Andre had a smashing good time (he’d probably disagree) and it was gone.

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Next up was spraying out the existing lawn, which was more weed than lawn because we haven’t given it any tlc, knowing it’s time was limited anyway.

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Because we got shovel-fright at the start of the next step we handed over $200+ and traded up for a digger. Money well spent!

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The following week was a bit more exciting for me. Diggers – pah! Just give me some grass seed! We were up and into it early, starting with removing all the leaves, sticks and roots that had come uncovered.

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Then the pile of topsoil that had been sitting in a gluggy mess all week got spread and Andre did his level best to make our lawn look super smart. Master W thought the roller was almost as good as last weeks digger!0507_7022

Once Andre was satisfied with how things were looking (yup, I did a good job finishing off while he went to get the last load of topsoil) he compacted it with this hired lawn roller.0507_7024

A final layer of topsoil spread over the compacted soil, and we’re ready for seeding. Whoop whoop! 0507_7032

A bit of browsing around led me to Newton’s Seed, in Onehunga. They’re a dedicated grass seed company (claiming to have the freshest seed) and their prices were good. I also appreciated a quick chat with them to ensure we were on the right track with our chosen seed and our method of preparing the soil and spreading the seed. They recommended mixing the seed with a bit of sand to help with distribution. Their Supalawn seed is good for family lawns which get a bit of wear and tear, and can handle a lack of tlc. So let’s hope it’s going to prove itself! (It’s also a mixture of rye and fescue, which I mentioned as recommended back here.)0507_7035

Here’s me with my spreading action going on. 0507_7040

Still loving those polka dot gumboots! 0507_7043

This is how it looked with all the seed spread – oooh promising! 0507_7045

Somewhere I read that it was a good idea to rake over the seed very gently, and the guy at Newton Seed backed that up, but he said to use the back of the rake and only just cover the seed.

0507_7046So that’s what I tried to do!

0507_7052With that done, it was clean up time… so… much…. mud!

0507_7050We strung up plastic bags and some blank cds in an attempt to keep the birds away. I think it helped, although there were always birds munching away whenever I stepped out the front door. Maybe just a few less than there would have been otherwise?!0507_7068

A week of warm temperatures and sunshine mixed with gentle rain followed, which was perfect lawn growing weather!0507_7065

But just as the shoots started to come up… Bam! Thunderstorms and lightning and buckets of rain came persisting down. There were puddles all over the front yard and I contemplated making some little origami lifeboats to try and save the drowning seed. Lots of it got washed across the drive… 0507_7066So, right now we’re just waiting. The sun is shining again and another week will give us more of an idea about whether we need to resow. A bit disappointing, but not a major, and if we do need to give it another seeding, it’ll make for a sturdier lawn in the long run. I’ll keep you posted!

Here’s a little cost breakdown:

Concrete cutter and jackhammer to break up turning bay: $0 (courtesy of Andre’s employer)
Truck and dumping of concrete: $0 (courtesy of Andre’s employer)
Kiwicare weed spray: $25ish from Mitre10
Digger hire: $200+
Topsoil: 3 loads at $60 each = $180
Lawn roller hire: $20
Grass seed and sand: $26
Total: $451

By far the biggest cost was in the digger and the topsoil, which was really only necessary because we were reshaping and levelling the lawn. So if you’re just wanting to give your lawn a spruce up you could scrape off the surface by hand and spread a thin layer of fresh topsoil – saving more than $300. Best to venture into this in the Autumn (Fall) so judging by the drop in temperature here the last couple of days it’s a bit late to do anything this year. Put it on next years list!

I’ll be back in a week or so hopefully with some more lush greenness to show you! In the meantime, I’m excited about some planning for the backyard makeover. More on that later in the week. And don’t forget instagram (@duckeggblueblog) and Facebook for some in between blog post action.

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Mud at the front door

After a second go over with Kiwicare’s Organic Weedfree Rapid, most greenery on our front patch had turned to brownery. So… plan A to borrow a digger didn’t work out. (Yes there were tears from Master W, and maybe even some from me!) And Andre didn’t get far beyond this corner before he threw in the towel spade and went to hire a digger. 0423_6981

First though, he dug out the cherry tree and we have put that aside for some lucky bidder.0423_6982

At $200 for half a day, diggers don’t come cheap. But sometimes you just have to deal with that. Especially when the sunny morning turns to a stormy afternoon, and you have way too many loads of washing due to sick kids. $200 well spent!

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Our deadline to return the digger was 2pm, and the landscaping place where we planned to get some new topsoil closed at 3pm. So… for one rainy hour it was all go and we managed to get two loads of topsoil dumped on the drive by 3pm. Access onto the lawn is tight through that gate… so we resigned ourselves to shovelling in the rain. 0423_6990 0423_6991

I was pretty tired of sitting around a steamy house so I volunteered to shovel the first shift. Andre got to finish off, and did a great job removing all evidence of a pile of dirt on the drive.

Here’s how the front doorway looked all day. You know I’m fussy about grubby floors. Please wash up in the bucket, wipe your feet, and wipe them again!0423_6993

If I get a sunny moment combining with Miss E in bed, I’ll be out with Master W spreading the pile of dirt from one end of the front yard to the other… and yes, there’ll be another bucket at the front door! Right now it doesn’t look promising, but at least we have Thursday (Anzac Day) this week to get a little further ahead. Autumn is fast disappearing and the seed isn’t in yet…

A concrete wall that wasn’t built in a day: Part 2

And so continues (and ends) the saga that is our raised garden along the front and side of our house.

Part 1 left us with a beginning and an end to our wall, but a large gap in the middle.

So one fine Saturday Andre got to work again:

Built some more formwork:

And fixed it to the existing wall:

Once again he used some heavy duty bits to hold it altogether:

Then got the concrete mixer onto the job:

And with his little helper the wall took shape:

A couple of days later the formwork came down, to reveal a complete wall!

Then one day while I had a moment to myself I got out the bucket of bitumen to add a bit of waterproofing to the inside of the wall:

Then it got a bit exciting after that… a trailer load of beautiful dark “Living Earth More Than Garden Mix”, from NZLS. We ended up going back for a second trailer load at a total cost of $120.

We removed a good part of the pea straw before we dumped the soil in, so we could reuse it on top:

Then we got shovelling:

To protect the lower trunk of the bay tree and give it some breathing space we put some blocks around:

Once we plant around it, and even in the holes in the blocks I think it will pretty well cover up this little oddity in our garden!

Here’s an overall view, but before we cleaned up properly!

As you can see there were a few rough patches that needed some extra attention:

But finally we got it done! And tomorrow I can show you how it looks with plants…!