Update to the Progress Update

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June 27, 2012 by stpaulhaus

Perhaps you recall the post about all the yards work that I planned to get done before sun down on Sunday.  Here was the list I started with and what I actually got done:

  • Finish retaining wall
  • Leaf blow the retaining wall and steps
  • Power wash the steps
  • Stain/seal the steps
  • Stain/seal the lonely piece of trim on the porch exterior
  • Make raised bed on the end of the lower lot
  • Install bed/lawn edging
  • Mulch, mulch, mulch!
  • Get rid of the old plywood/carpet/pad from the guest bedroom (which has been taking up space in the porch
I guess I bit off a little more than I could chew, but at least I got a good start.  We ran into a couple problems with the retaining wall when we accidentally put one of the caps on upside down. No worries, all was fixed with the help of some mineral spirits and scrapping.
Isn’t she nice?  Don’t worry, that railing is being taken care of soon.
Adrian had all the extension cords for the wedding he was DJing, so I couldn’t run the leaf blower, which means I couldn’t clean and power wash the stairs, which means I couldn’t stain them. That will probably be a next weekend project.
As far as not getting to the raised beds, that was mostly due to my lack of adequate planning. Plus, they wouldn’t fit in my dad’s truck. He has about 10 of them laying around, but at 8ft they don’t exactly fit nicely into the box of a pickup. We did discuss where how they were going to work and where they would go.  For left to right–We are planning on having one bed to the left under the lilacs, the large tangled and untamed mess of day lilies will stay in place,  then there will be some stone-look steps, more lilies, grass will stay, and then another raised bed will be from the mulberry trees to the edge of the property. I should just draw a picture of this so it is less confusing–another time.  Don’t mind that large pile of crushed rock leftover from the retaining wall.
Again, my poor planning made picking out the right lawn edging difficult.  I have read a couple articles (here) on the pros and cons of the various types of edging but I’m still not sure what I am going to go with. I’m leaning toward plastic because it is the least expensive and easy to use. Of course it is not as durable as stone or wood, but because it is cheap it is not so bad to replace when needed.  They do come in various types and strengths. I am looking at this one here. It has a thick rolled edge.  There are also special corner attachments if you want to have a sharp 90 degree turn, or it can be shaped into a flowing curve.
I did get to the piece of trim on the porch that needed to be stained.  It deceivingly looks like it was painted, but it is actually a white solid stain, which means no pealing paint in the future and no sanding and scraping, and only a quick re-coat when it needs it. Yessss. Don’t get me started on exterior paint. I have nothing good to say about it, especially on fences, decks, and railings.  Don’t do it people! I didn’t really get a good photo of it, but you can kind of see it in this one…
The middle trim piece used to be just pressure treated pine.  This is also a nice shot of the porch next door.  They just stained the railing, love it.
If you are wondering why we are ignoring the blank slat of the lower yard, it is because we don’t actually own that lot.  It is actually a vacant lot that is owned by someone else that doesn’t care for it of pay taxes on it.  Boo.  However, because they taxes have not be paid in a number of years, the state will be acquiring the lot soon. Once the state evaluates the property and determines the best use of the land, it can be sold to the public.  Generally, if it makes the most sense to become part of an adjacent property, as it is in our case, it is first offered to the adjacent homeowner(s) before it is offered up for sale to the general public.  We are hoping this is a smooth process and that we will offer the land quickly after the state takes hold of it.  I have already called Ramsey County inquiring about the state of the lot, and they have taken note that we are interested in purchasing it.  We  are hoping that the state will let us have it for only the back taxes.   If they try to sell it for an absurd price then we will just let it go.  I would love to throw a white picket fence around it and start playing a game of  croquet or lawn bowling.  I will update you all on this when we hear from the state or county.  We should find out something by August 1st hopefully.
Whether or not we eventually purchase the lot, the updates we are doing now will really improve the look of the house and the curb appeal.  The backyard with the lilacs was actually one of my favorite things about the house when we first saw it… apparently, it made me overlook the problematic retaining walls, the randomly sprouting rouge trees, and the weedy grass. Now that we are fixing all these things we should have people knocking down our door to buy right?  Ha!  Actually, we are doing this not only for resale, but for our own enjoyment of our yard.
On a separate note,  I have made some progress on the guest bedroom.  The skim coat is off the lower half and everything has the mess had been cleaned up.
I still need to hit the brick with some cleaner to get the last bits of concrete off–hopefully it doesn’t call for acid because I don’t want to deal with that.  Once it is clean I will be sealing it so its not a mess later 0n.  I decide that I am not going to skim coat the top half. I am thinking of making either a plan plywood encasement, or perhaps I will use some old pallets.  I think I will start with the plywood and see how it turns out.  If I am still wanting more than I could always attach the pallet wood later.  Here is a little mock-up that I made quickly.
I’m also a very talented sketch artist. I bet you didn’t know that about me.  Note the extremely accurate and drawn to scale windows, and the intricate shading techniques I used.
More to come soon. I know you are all holding your breath waiting for the kitchen reveal.  The post is written, just need to take photos. I meant to take them this afternoon, but I didn’t get to it before it got too dark and the lighting was off.  Ah well. I’ll get to it when I get to it.
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