It was May 4th, 2008 that we decided we had had enough of a plain lawn for a back garden (or back yard as they call it here). This was our starting point that day…no deck, no patio, no borders and a whole bunch of all but dead grass!
Some three months later, we are all but complete in the back yard…at least for this summer season. The deck and patio are done(bar a couple of minor jobs that need finishing), our BBQ gas line has been hooked up and new turf (Canadian’s call it “sod”) has been laid around the patio. Our personal contribution has been to spend countless hours making the borders, which has involved digging out the existing turf, demarcating each border with bricks, planting, matting and mulching. It has been very hard work, especially when the temperatures have sometimes been in the 90’s as we “toiled”.
The latest and final borders to complete are the long border down the right hand side of the yard as you look from the house……and this comparatively small border running in front of the deck, both of which we completed during the long weekend just gone. The grass continues to improve although it is still some way from the lush carpet of green that we wish it to be. Still, there’s always next year to tackle that! For the remainder of this summer season, we think we’re going to sit back with a bottle or two of beer and/or a glass of wine and enjoy all we have achieved thus far.
Having recently had our gas BBQ hooked up (see earlier posts) we have been putting it through its paces.We were concerned that the absence of charcoal that we were used to with our little BBQ in the UK might undermine the taste, but after 3 or 4 uses now, that concern has been set aside. Thus far, good results have been produced with good old Alberta beef……as well as salmon, sweetcorn, mushrooms and potatoes.
On this occasion, a small smidgeon of steak, sweetcorn and Janet’s “world famous” potato salad (well, OK, it’s famous in our household, does that count?!) all went down very well!
The weather has been glorious these past few days and it has enabled us to get back out in the garden to reclaim the borders we had previously dug, from the weeds that had taken them over in the recent wet spell. We now have two borders weeded, planted, matted and mulched.
This border is down the left hand side of the garden as you look from the house and is complete with some solar powered lights which look quite smart. Obviously, we are going to have to wait some time for the plants to mature! We are also interested to see how they cope with winter here. We have deliberately chosen extremely hardy plants that, according to their labels, laugh in the face of minus 30°C temperatures. We hope they’re right!This border is outside our “nook” (dining area beside the kitchen) and is quite a shady area.We have also taken a first step towards harvesting the heavy downpours of rain that occur here from time to time by installing a rain barrel. It’s already nearly full so we might start thinking about adding a second one as there is plenty more rain to come in the spectacular thunder and lightning storms we will see over the next couple of months.There is still a great deal to do to get things to where we want them by the end of this first summer season. We’re hoping that next year will be more about enjoying the hard labour of Spring/Summer 2008!
The deck is now almost complete. Work had to stop with the fairly awful weather that marked the first half of June. But now, we hope you can see from this shot that we now have the glass panels in place and the pickets in the rails to the side of the steps. All that needs doing now is the addition of some fascia boards on the steps and the installation of a gas line for the BBQ. We have even installed some lamps on the rear wall of the house which, when lit, illuminate the deck just perfectly (and hey, we didn’t electrocute ourselves while doing it!)You will see that we now have said BBQ and we are very pleased with it. It all comes in a huge and very heavy box and you have to assemble it all yourself, which we spent today (Sunday) doing.It also looks very smart with its protective cover on.You can see that we also have our deck furniture in situ. We bought and assembled that last weekend. We were worried that the furniture and BBQ would dwarf the deck but if anything, it’s the other way around. We think we are still thinking in terms of the size of our UK house and we had to remind ourselves that at 20ft x 12ft,(240 square feet), the deck is larger than the combined size of our UK living and dining room!So, once that gas line is in (we would hope to have that done in the next week or so), we are off and running.
Around the patio, we are still not able to progress with repairing the lawn as we currently have an outdoor watering ban (the result of the recent rains causing some flooding down in Okotoks that all but “took out” the water treatment facility – several weeks later, we have only just had a “boil all water” order lifted but we are still days away from the watering ban being lifted).
All the rain has helped to green up the lawn nicely though…it looked very brown and nigh on dead when it’s snow cover first melted. You might also be able to make out that we have started to do some planting and that we are marking the edges of the borders with the same bricks that were used to construct the patio, which looks quite smart, we think.
After what was, we think, a 3 month wait, Janet’s new Ford Taurus has finally arrived (complete with bluetooth mobile phone facility, USB port and other assorted functionalities that we hadn’t expected). It appears to be a well thought through vehicle, with an easy layout and lots of little cubby-holes for hiding things! This evening, we went along to Okotoks Ford (where we bought Lilly, our other car) to pick her up and bring her home. Here’s their website…
Janet appears happy with this development…And this is Dylan Callum, the sales associate that we have worked with in selecting both of the cars. He has been an absolute star, completely non pushy, very friendly and very entertaining on test drives when, contrary to most test drives, he has encouraged us to, errr, test the limits of the vehicles we were interested in! Dylan is applying the licence plate that Janet went and purchased today.More photos of the car to follow in the days ahead.
A further brief update on the deck and patio works. The deck is beginning to look rather smart, although it still lacks steps, white aluminium railings and glass panels.
Compacting the gravel and sand bedding for the patio area…
The stones for the patio being delivered. This is a cool Tonka Toy…all managed by a remote control in the delivery guy’s hand. The rest of the pallets on his truck are ours too.
The patio starts with one stone in the middle, then a circle of stones around it. It may look as though Ivor has randomly chosen where to start laying stones but we assure you there was some science applied in deciding where the very first stone should be laid!
The circle is complete and now the patio border and infill stones are being laid.
The bulk of the patio stones are laid but the weather has been deteriorating all afternoon and work has to stop. Rain is forecast for the next few days (that was a very accurate forecast we can tell you!…it’s been raining heavily all week!) and so the final act is to cover over the “holes” in the patio with bricks to stop them becomming waterlogged. When work recommences, these stones will be cut with a special saw so that they precisely fit the holes they are covering.
With more rain forecast for Sunday and Monday, it is likely to be into the middle of next week before work can recommence. We’ll update the blog with the finished product.
Good progress has been made over the last day or so, although it has come to a halt now due to the long weekend. We did manage to buy a tree for our garden though so we will be planting that tomorrow.
These are the cross beams going on the deck. The guy in the photo is Tony, (husband of Violet and the multi-talented co-owner of the barn in DeWinton that we stayed at when we first arrived here).
This is Ivor, son of Ivor (Senior), the latter of whom has designed and planned the deck and patio and helped mark out the borders with spray paint!
This is Ivor (Senior), friend and partner of Tony, supervising progress!
This is Tony again with his son Elliot, doing a fine job.
This is the deck with nearly all its boards. Now we need steps and railings.
More to follow.
Well the weather is finally getting warmer (around 90 degrees this weekend) so we decided it was high time put in some flowerbeds. However, we got an e-mail from Violet (the co-owner of the barn we stayed in, in October) asking if we still wanted a deck building. So the digging out of borders has now escalated to borders, deck and patio, as it does!!! We were keen to get a deck though and think it will look really good when it is done. Here are a few pictures of where we are so far.
This is the outline of borders, deck and patio in white spray paint.
This is one of the first borders to be dug out (by me and Eamonn I might add)
You can see in this picture the heap of dirt we have dug out of the borders
As the pile grows, I thought I’d better stand behind it for scale.
Patio area dug out
Patio with gravel bedding in place
Matting and stones for under the deck
More to follow in the next few days.