Memorial Day Shenanigans

June 14, 2010

A few weeks ago Liz and I hosted our families for Memorial Day. While this sounds like a fantastic idea at first, we quickly realized that this would entail catching up on 3 years of deferred maintenance on our house.

Exhibit A
They are winning

We thought that since the weeds had completely taken over the area, that something drastic was necessary. We succeeded in the drastic part.

The never ending pain and suffering

So here we are, removing all the rock. The original idea was that the weed barrier underneath wasn’t doing its job any more, and thus needed to be replaced. Unfortunately we didn’t realize how much dirt there was on top of the weed barrier, and how difficult it is to separate rocks and dirt. In your head I’m sure you are thinking that it couldn’t be that hard. And so did we.

Holy cow thats a lot of rocks

One small bright spot was that we got to rip out the old junky plastic edging, and replace it with some wonderful bricks. I almost enjoyed that part.

But back to pain and suffering.

With a large volume of plant matter, and dirt intermixed with our rock. We tried to think up the best solution possible to “clean” the rocks. And this was our first mistake. Well, not first, but a serious mistake. Somehow I thought that water would be the best solution. Unfortunately, what do you get when you mix dirt and water? Mud, thick slimy, clogging mud. While clear water runs through the rocks quite well, mud does not. Mud drifts down just below the surface, and clogs up the works.


So here we are, maybe 20% through our pile of rocks that never seems to end, and thinking about all the mistakes that had been made. Fortunately, I’m an engineer, and what do engineers do? They solve problems. I simply had to figure out what problem I was trying to solve. I realized that I had some expanded steel sitting around that had smaller openings than the rocks, and I had a moment of inspiration.

I will suffer no more

Engineering saves the day! Or at least my sanity. An impromptu wheel-barrow with a grate for a bottom does a fantastic job of separating the rocks from the dirt. If only I had been concerned with separating instead of cleaning this could have all been avoided. Maybe not all of it, but at least some of it.

We still had the mess left over from the previous attempt with water.

A mess for the ages

And you know what that means! A new tool!

The raw power of water! (and 1600 psi of compression)

A quick trip to Lowes yielded a new pressure washer which blew away the dirt with a force untold to human kind before. Oh it was a magical feeling, eradicating all the evidence of our previous mistakes. Leaving no trace that we had done anything.

All Done, and never the wiser!

At least I got a new toy. New toys make everything better.

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