"Just because they showed up to collect the money, is no guarantee that they’ll show up to do the work… and if they do… I can’t pay for it!"

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Since I know that many of you are awaiting with baited breath (what would that smell like? Baited Breath?) to hear what will become of my backyard, I thought I’d update you.

If you remember, last time I blogged about my slowly eroding backyard, I was in turmoil over the thought of spending gadzooks of cash on a retaining wall and/or loads of plant material. But you’ll be happy to know that I made a decision.

Taking the advice of three “experts” on erosion, I have decided to forego the retaining wall (at least for now) and in the words of my Civil Engineer, we’re instead going to just, “Plant the shit out of it.”

Pardon the language.

The first contractor my Engineer recommended, apparently wasn’t hungry enough in this economy to give me a good deal. In fact, he didn’t even show up with a tape measure, and instead used the old, “I’m just gonna step off the length here and guesstimate” method of measuring. Which, I’m all for unless we’re talking about a great deal of money riding on the actual size of the project, which we are. He also didn’t include in his estimate, any additional dirt to fix the low spots, or bobcat work, or erosion mat, or anything like the second guy did. I may need someone to come do the work for me, but I’m not an idiot. I know what needs to be done.

The second guy came, with a TAPE MEASURE (Haaaallellujah!) and did actual measurements and then provided me with an estimate that, while still expensive, was not a whole lot more than I could have done it for by myself. AND, he could start today, which tells me that he is hungry and clearly not terribly busy right now.

Contractor #1 – Ill-prepared and playing me for a sucker

Contractor #2 – Well prepared and giving me a more than fair price

“When can you start?”

But, my backyard can be broken into three sections. The right side, I’ve already landscaped and put in some steps leading down so that I, and the kids, can access the creek and bamboo farm at the bottom without busting our crowns in a tumble:

hillside landscaping 1

See those elephant ear plants there? They are freakin’ HUGE! Each leaf is about the size of a beach ball. It does like it some hillside!

The opposite side of the yard, is the left side and it is really steep. There is also enough dirt left over there that I’m not so much worried about “fixing” it as I am about just keeping it from getting worse. So, this weekend I went around and scarfed up some great deals on some Maple trees and planted five of them on the hillside, along with two nice River Birch sets that I got from a local nursery. I also extended the cheapo-deluxe corrugated drain pipe so that it doesn’t deposit all the water on the middle of the slope (brilliant! those original builders!)

hillside landscaping 3

I also got some fairly cheap wire and some wooden stakes and made little aprons for the front of the tree so that I can mulch around them without it running down the hill.

It was hard work doing all this on the hill, but I’m happy with the way it turned out and I think it’s going to be really nice when the trees grow in, in a few years.

This just leaves the 80 foot long section in the middle, which my contractor is hopefully gonna fix for me:

IMG_2498

So, let’s just hope now that my contractor actually starts today and that we don’t have a “Money Pit” situation on our hands, “Yeah, I’m gonna need another check before I can do any more work…”

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3 thoughts on “"Just because they showed up to collect the money, is no guarantee that they’ll show up to do the work… and if they do… I can’t pay for it!"

    Allison said:
    November 6, 2008 at 7:14 am

    Have you been mowing those hills?

    RE: No longer! They finally finished the planting and I must admit that it looks fantastic. Wonder how many weeds will pop up next year though? Hmm.

    Joe Richy said:
    March 17, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    My website is about slope erosion control

    You have great information and i liked that you have an actual experience, how did your backyard turn out?

      dobeman said:
      March 17, 2010 at 2:29 pm

      It’s a work in progress. The juniper are growing pretty well, but nowhere near covering it yet. Give it a couple more years. I have had to go back and repack several spots on the hill where water has caused a mini-mudslide and part of that is just figuring out how to divert the water on the top. Still, I think I’ve stopped any further damage…for now.

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