Regrading the Yard

Last weekend, some of you may have seen that I posted the following photo on Twitter:

12 cubic yards of top soil

This is what 12 cubic yards of top soil looks like.

This is 12 cubic yards of top soil, dumped on my front yard, waiting to be spread across the yard to fill in all the low spots and to make sure that water would drain away from the foundation rather than towards it. KP had a blast nibbling away at it.

KP eating dirt

KP discovers 12 cubic yards of top soil, eats it.

My wife and I worked all Friday afternoon and evening, and most of the day Saturday, but we finished it up.

Here’s what the yard looks like now:

Backyard. This dirt is like 8"-12" deep.

Backyard. This dirt is like 8″-12″ deep.

Drainage towards garage valley gutter.

Drainage towards garage valley gutter.

Old tree stump hump.

Old tree stump hump.

Draining away from foundation.

Draining away from foundation.

Backfilling around walkway.

Backfilling around walkway.

Our lot is so flat, that most of the positive drainage away from the foundation is subtle at best, but we just don’t have any other options. It will have to do.

Here’s a nice before and after that demonstrates our progress pretty well. Back in 2012, I posted about doing some work on the flower beds  in front of the house. I posted the following picture – notice how much of the stone pavers are showing. At least 6″ – Maybe 8″.

little wall

little wall

Then a couple weeks ago I posted some photos of the new concrete walkways, and pointed out how high the new walkway was poured compared to the ground and the pavers. Notice that the pavers are just totally eclipsed by the walkway, and the front edge of the concrete is completely visible.

New sidewalk. Notice how high it is compared to the ground.

New sidewalk. Notice how high it is compared to the ground.

Now here’s a similar angle after spreading all the new top soil around. Notice we removed the pavers (and stacked them up next to the house since they weren’t doing much anymore now anyway. Also notice that we’ve completely backfilled around the walkway.

Final grading.

Final grading.

Again, the drainage is subtle, but it’s all we can do without either raising the house up, or lowering the street elevation, neither of which is going to happen.

Oh yea, I also pulled a muscle and can barely move my arm now, lol.

Masonry and Concrete

A lot of new things happening around the exterior of the house these days. None of it by me. I am too lazy to get off my ass, so I hired a couple of guys to do some masonry and concrete work. Take a look at the photo below. At least two new things are visible here – new service walkways out to the sidewalk and around the side of the house, and the top quarter of our chimney has been replaced.

New things. New walkways. New top half of chimney.

New things. New walkways. New top half of chimney.

First, the chimney – it was just sort of falling apart and needed repaired. This felt like throwing money down the drain since we never use the fireplace (and have no intentions of ever starting)… but I guess it needed to be done. The chimney still vents our water heater and furnace. I’m not blown away by the brick match, but the mason insisted that the greenish hues in our current brick just isn’t matchable anymore. Oh well.

Chimney Repaired.

Chimney Repaired.

While he was here, I twisted his arm into doing a quick stucco repair. This is the sort of job you’ll never be able to get a professional to do unless they’re also replacing half your chimney.

Stucco repair.

Stucco repair.

We ended up replacing all of the service walks on the property. The old ones were fine, but had sunk significantly since installed and resulted in drainage issues. When we replaced them, we made sure to pour them nice and high next to the foundation so that we had a chance to slope the ground away from the house. Here’s an example. Back in 2012, I posted about doing some work on the flower beds in front of the house. I posted the following picture – notice how much of the stone pavers are showing. At least 6″ – Maybe 8″.

little wall

little wall

Now here’s a similar angle – that whole wall of pavers we constructed has been eclipsed by the new walkway. We’ll have to come back through with some top soil and cover some of the edges of these new walkways.

New sidewalk. Notice how high it is compared to the ground.

New sidewalk. Notice how high it is compared to the ground.

Another thing the mason did while he was here was to patch the foundation parging in a couple places (it’s the discolored part of the foundation visible in this photo):

New sidewalk around house.

New sidewalk around house.

All that is great, but the exciting part is in the back yard. Remember after we built the new garage but never bothered to build a sidewalk to our back door? For the past year, this is what our back yard has looked like – small and crumbling porch and stairs, the first step was super-tall, and the walkway was old pavers rather than concrete (and my daughter KP always made sure there was a pile of saw dust on each and every paver…).

Terrible Walkway.

Terrible Walkway.

But now, HELLO NEW PORCH AND PATIO

New sidewalk from garage to back door.

New sidewalk from garage to back door.

New steps, porch, patio.

New steps, porch, patio.

Finally, I had the concrete guys construct a small valley gutter around the garage to help with drainage issues. The general rule of thumb about drainage is that it should always drain away from buildings rather than towards buildings. But that’s not really possible in our case, especially since the ass who designed our garage (that was me, by the way) probably should have poured the garage slab about six inches higher than it was. Oh well. Too late now. Also, there’s a tree in the middle of our yard that doesn’t really let us play with grades at all. Short version is, we’re draining the back yard towards the garage, so I wanted a bit of a gutter to help divert water around the structure. I dunno if it will work or not. We’ll find out when it rains. Here are some pics.

Valley Gutter - Curb to divert water around garage.

Valley Gutter – Curb to divert water around garage.

Valley gutter around garage.

Valley gutter around garage.

Valley gutter around garage.

Valley gutter around garage.

The next step is to order a truckload of top soil and fill in the spaces around the new concrete and regrade the yard a bit. I’ll keep you posted.