Flattening the Curve(s)

I wasn't sure if I should tippity-type that title or not...I didn't know if it would cause cringing considering the circumstances we all find ourselves in...but then I thought, what the heck.

I mean, it's the perfect title for what we've been up to so how could I not?

Remember when I said we got sidetracked with another project in the middle of painting the outside of our house?  Well, we got really sidetracked.  I'm still feelin' it too.

THIS, is what our backyard looked like when we first moved in:

A large tree stump with a pudgy camellia to the right and a random, non-working light pole to the left.

Pan even more to the left a smidge and you'd see another two tree stumps just hanging out in the middle of the yard.

You can see them just over that short brick wall in this photo, taken at the same time:

Here's what it all looked like two weeks ago:

We've had lofty dreams of a light post and stump-free, flat backyard since day one but we weren't sure when we'd get there...and then we got the opportunity to stay at home every single day and things just kind of fell into place weather-wise and well, we've made some good progress.

And by progress I mean we have spent literally, literally every free second we've had in the past two weeks between work and homeschool outside, shoveling, scooping, and flattening the curves that were those raised stumps in the backyard.  I've got a killer (somewhat farmer) tan and some recently sore muscles to show for it.  Anthony has the tan minus the sore muscles because he's in much better shape than mwah.  ;)
First, we rented a mini-excavator from Home Depot because we thought maybe we could rip out the stumps and surrounding roots with it.  This is how far that got us:
While the excavator wasn't powerful enough to get those big stumps out like we hoped, Anthony was able to dig out around them, detaching tons of big roots, and claw away at the hills leading up to the stumps.

We debated trying to burn the stumps away some more (we already tried with little success last fall) or just axing at them daily until there was nothing left...but thankfully we came to our senses and, with a collective sigh, hired a stump grinding company to come out and grind down what was left.  They charged us $450 to do all three stumps plus a threw in a bonus - grinding a small stump next to our driveway the guy just noticed when he was about to leave.  

It took the guy an hour and half to do what us axing at the stumps would have literally taken months.  I know I rarely say this but sometimes, if and only if you can afford it, it's better to pay someone to do what you can do if they can do it more efficiently.  But, I'll also add my favorite chirp on money - "Just because you can pay for it doesn't mean you can afford it."  If we couldn't afford hiring someone to take out those stumps, you could bet your bottom dollar we'd be out there with a pair of axes everyday.  ;)

Oh, and as you probably noticed, we basically just pushed over that light post and down she came.

With the stumps completely ground down, we were left with huge piles of mulch.  It's hard to tell in the picture above, but that's what the ground around those now-gone stumps was full of.  It sounds easy to just fill in the empty holes we now had with the mulch and call it a flat yard, but over the course of the next few years, that mulch would decompose and the ground would sink, leaving a crater of sorts.  Not something we wanted but believe me, there were a few moments during the shoveling that I thought we should take the easy way out and just fill the holes with mulch and then come back in a few years and fill in the sinking craters with dirt again.  But who wants to do something twice?  Not me.

So, the mulch got tossed into a wheel barrow and strategically placed in new landscape beds around the yard (but not anywhere along the sides of the house because untreated mulch (vs. the treated kind you can buy at the store) can make good termite homes...yipe!)  Once the mulch was gone, we bought a truck full of topsoil to fill in the holes and get that flat yard we were longing for.

Here's where we are now:
It's hard to see with the sun pounding down but there are two big dirt spots that will *crossing fingers* soon be green too.

A pound of grass seed is waiting to be planted this weekend and me?  Well, I'm just glad we can move onto the fun stuff...aka, painting.  We're going to get back and running with painting the exterior AND while all of this raking and shoveling was happening, we finally got someone in here to finish mudding the new ceiling drywall between the living room and kitchen.  So, lots and lots of paint.  I'm very ready to cover up that wood paneling and see the fruits of the ceiling scraping we did many moons ago.

Who is with me?  ;)

Well then, stay tuned.

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