Monday, February 20, 2012

Renovation - The Front Path

The front path and surrounding gardens was finished yesterday, in darkness, with the planting of these stunning orange and yellow canna lilies that make me unbelievably happy.

It was a mixed sense of achievement and relief as this was a project that had started 6 years ago and not last November as most of the other renovations had.

In 2006, Graham's back neighbour needed to run a drain along the entire length of the yard and construct a rubble pit at the front to carry the overflow of water created from a triple size tennis court he had constructed. The tennis court flooded every time it rained and in turn flooded all the neighbours below. Reluctantly (and regrettably), Graham agreed and the heavy machinery they brought in completely destroyed the original path, which was very old (probably 1950s), but original and in perfect condition. In addition, the machinery also carelessly knocked out half of the beautiful frangipani tree next to it.

The cracked path

Branches missing from the tree
Anyway, to cut a long and disappointing neighbour story short, the path was useless and while we explored many different options of having it restored or painted/concreted over, we kept coming back to the conclusion that it was beyond repair and needed to be removed.

In 2009 we brought in the heavy machinery and ripped out the defunct path and reshaped the front lawn to create a gentler slope and a flat surface for a future path along the side of the garage.  For over two years, it remained like this.

Then in November last year we finally made a start. The property is on a very steep slope so the plan was to run a paved path from the front of the house to the footpath with a step pad in the middle. The right hand side of the path which was next to the garage would be become a garden bed, and the path would lead to the front of the property with two garden beds either side and steps down to the common footpath.

We already had about 2000 pavers we'd bought a couple of years before and sleepers, concrete, bedding sand and dirt were going to be expensive, so we did all the labour ourselves. Luckily Graham is very handy, a former concreter and builder's labourer and we put those skills to good use.

Side of garage before

A path was also planned for beside the garage, stepping down and running off the side of the other path. This would lead to the front of the garage and give a clean, clear path from the front of the house to the car.

Framing down
It was pretty hard labour. It rained, it was hot and when it was dark we got bitten by mosquitos. But finally we got to the final stage (yesterday) where all that was needed was the final touch of putting the plants in.

From the Discovery Markets at Rocklea
Lucky for me, Graham let me plant whatever I wanted and I wanted tropical! Canna lilies to be exact. I could imagine a mass hedge of thick, lush, strappy foliage and brightly coloured flowers on the path near the garage and the garden beds at the front.

We went to the Discovery Markets at Rocklea. I'd been going there for years and bought all the plants for my last house from there. They were usually at least 50% cheaper and sometimes if you bought in bulk the stallholder would give you a further discount or some freebies.

I found the exact cannas I wanted and would have been willing to pay up to $8 each (I'd seen large ones at Bunnings for $22), but we bought a LOT of them and with his discount they ended up being $4.50 each. Bargain.

I had a couple of errands to run for the rest of the day and didn't get home until 6pm. I DESPERATELY wanted to see the plants in and the project finalised so I made Graham come out in the darkness and plant and mulch.

We finished around 8pm, sticky, sweaty, but finished. So, behold!



And after...

Step down pad

Canna Lilies

Step down to the garage door

Some of the bricks had to be cut to size

The gorgeous cannas!


Before Front Path

And after...

We're so happy with the outcome of this, especially after four years, we've been skipping down the front path just for fun.

Project - closed :-)