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Friday, August 20, 2010

Backyard Blitz

In early 2010, Schnelle and I decided we'd had enough of the 30foot Gum Tree sitting at the fence line of our back yard। The tree was actually on our neighbors property and it lives right up against the fence (middle).

This type of Gum Tree which is only native to New South Wales, looks a bit like a Lemon Scented Gum, and is actually a member of that family. In November every year like clock work the tree would decide it is the perfect time to dispense all of its bark and gum nuts (small nuts the size of peas).

co-incidentally November is the same time of year it is really heating up and is perfect swimming pool weather, so you can imagine what it's like....our swimming pool is directly under the Gum Tree so it happens, and funnily enough the pool was there first according to the oldest neighbor the street has seen.


This brings me to an amazing group of church mates, under the leadership of Ben, one of the Church Deacons, a group of lads came together to help renovate the backyard pool area, which was always in a mis-match of ideas and looked rather ordinary.

The first thing we did was draw up a plan of action, whilst Schnelle and I decided on a nominal amount of money to spend (which was all we had). It turned out we had only $2000 to spend, which if using contractors would only pay wages, we had 8 guys, some of which were landscapers - called "Mates at Work" - the landscaper decided we would tear up all the sandstone squares around the pool and re-use them by relaying half back where we took them from and the other half to be used in a patch of paving red bricks in which we would cut a large diamond.

Also the fence next to the pool was looking dilapidated, and funnily enough that was all I originally was going to fix, until Ben commented that we could really renovate the whole area. Next after fixing those things we would plant shrubs, grevilias, grasses, a lemon tree and some rosemary around the pool area, with lovely new soil and mulch to keep the weeds at bay.

Before all this work would start Schnelle and I decided to get into the back yard and paint the fence on the opposite side of the pool area. We painted it a nice brown color in time for the lads to start on the pool area.


This consisted of everyone meeting out the back of my place to 2 chocka bags full of Egg McMuffins (not bad either - even Patches got into em) all up there was 8 of us (sorry if I don't remember all your names):

Ben W,




Pete (my neighbor)



and of course Myself

Apologies to those who I haven't mentioned here

Schnelle provided the food, which was awesome - spring rolls, mini pies and sausage rolls, a massive pot of pea and ham soup (which burnt my mouth), cake, cheese cake, fruit platter and of course several bottles of water, orange juice, Coke and berry mineral water (mmmmm berry goodness)


We started on removing the sandstone slabs around our pool area, as we were going to blast them clean before relaying them. We had decided on a 2 fold plan:


1) we would need to repair the fence on the right hand side as it was leaning over sue to rotting wood, and the fence on the left hand side Schnelle and I would paint at a later stage (see pictures above for Schnelle painting the fence)

2) Lawson (from Mates at Work) came up with a great idea to use some sandstone pavers from around the pool to create a diamond shape to break up the bricked are to the let of the pool.

With the main idea decided and the pavers pulled up Lawson and Deacon went off to scout materials whilst we started on removing about 2 metric tons of rubble from around the pool in order to replace it with good soil for the plants we were going to introduce to the right hand side of pool and rear fence by pool.

We started also transporting a ton of bricks to the front yard whilst we waited for a couple of skips to take our rubble (which did not arrive until midday) - which was exhausting for all of us as we were using a chain line of guys passing the bricks into our wheel barrow whilst a nice chap out the front helped unload them into a neat pile on my front lawn. It seemed to take for ever and we couldn't believe just how many bricks there were for such a small diamond that Lawson cut into the bricked pavement.


With plenty of hardware arrived courtesy of Deacon taking off in the Ute to pick up some massive Redwood beams to line the panted areas around the pool and to make a neat little BBO alcove (pictures below).
I originally decided to number all the fence sheets and thought we should remove them one by one as I was expecting there t be no retaining wall on the right side of the pool patio, but there was. Which made life so much easier - so we decided to take a chance and pull up the fence in 2 pieces - by cutting it away from its original supports (what was left of them. With that done we could easily sink a couple of really deep holes to put our massive beams in. Ben decided on treated pine, approximately 2 meters long by half a foot square, these poles were thick and heavy - just what we needed.


The slabs we managed to lay just the diamond on the first weekend - and we still hadn't put any of the slabs back around the pool area - or any of the new plants to go around it. The diamond however was looking magnificent and Deacon had cut some red wood gum sleepers to make his BBQ entertained area. Between Laswons awesome paver laying abilities and Deacons eye for a straight cut the nasty looking old red bricked eye sore was now looking like a professionally landscaped entertainment area (which it was/is).


The main player (Mates at Work) arrived to ensure we knew what to do - unfortunately they had not planned on being called away - and were offering their services free of charge any way - and to be honest they had done what they came to do - all that was left was for us to repave the area around the right and rear of the pool. For this we had the awesome abilities of Bin, Bin was really a plasterer (more on this later)and his colleague was doing the interior of our ceiling and a bad wall (again more on that later) but Bin put his hand up to do the laying of pavers this time.

We did the right side of the pool after some deliberation as we wanted to try to keep the pavers as snug against the pool lip as we could - as the last owners left about a 20 cm gap and filled it with black pebbles (of which we now have 2 garbage bins full of)