The cottage project that grew and grew…

When we discovered that our water pipe running from the cottage to the lake had frozen this past winter, we decided to dig it up, replace portions and reroute the rest so that it would be buried deeper and under snow cover for future winters.  This project turned out to be an ongoing adventure, snowballing into rebuilding the patio and deck, which then lead to considering replacing doors and windows, which will have to wait.

This first picture shows the soil that was displaced attempting to move the water pipe…

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digging up the old pipe

 

Next up was digging up the existing patio and expanding the width. length and depth so it is more comfortable…

 

Then came removing the old deck…

and discovering the damage caused by carpenter ants…

 

then replacing the old, chewed boards, footings, and joists with new ones…

adding a waterproofing system to keep the patio dry…

adding the floorboards…

then the posts and railings…

 

All under the watchful eye of several supervisors…

 

final results: an upper deck for viewing and sunbathing…

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….and a lower, covered patio, perfect for storm watching, reading or working in the shade…

 

Unfortunately, our cottage project has been put on the back burner because of a family issue.  My father-in-law fell and broke his hip in June this past summer and the ensuing drama has had us very busy.  The side railings of the deck still have to be installed, including the following hummingbird fence insert for a privacy screen:446889_400x0

Stay tuned for a spring update on our cottage project…

Just how cold was this past winter in the Ottawa area?

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This past winter was so cold our buried water pipe running between the lake and our cottage froze in Ompah, Ontario.  This has never happened before and the cottage was built way back in 1972.  Apparently the frost line was deeper than normal for this area of Canada this winter.  Digging down to find the buried water pipe, we found the ground frozen solid six feet down!  Fortunately, the soil at the cottage is sandy rather than full of clay as it is here in Kanata, although it was still a big job.  The pipe was rerouted so it no longer goes under the covered patio, but instead will be snow covered for better insulation in winters to come.

The good news is we had planned (eventually) to rebuild the patio, so the frozen pipe turned out to be motivation to start the patio project…

Backyard Makeover by Gardens4u

In a previous post I talked about a makeover Gardens4u started in a friend’s backyard last fall…

This client wanted a small patio surrounded by gardens with very little grass to cut.  She also requested the cost be kept to a minimum.  We started by layering newspaper, soil and leaves in the area that was to be garden, leaving it over the winter months to decompose.  This spring it was dark, rich soil with only a few pieces of newspaper remaining to be raked up from the garden bed.  The lesson learned here was to ensure the newspapers are applied thickly and overlapping so that the grass is completely smothered.  The newspapers must then be completely covered by soil and leaves; you cannot have too much soil or too many leaves.  The newspaper should not be visible.  The layers must then be wet well to prevent the leaves from blowing around.

Plants recycled from other gardens were added throughout the summer, then mulch to complete the garden area.  I prefer the black cedar mulch as it compliments the green plants and smells great.

The patio was constructed using pavers discarded by another friend who was replacing the pavers from her sidewalk with interlocking brick.  The patio is just large enough to fit a few lawn chairs or a lounger.

Next, stepping-stones were added leading from the deck and patio to the small patch of remaining lawn. More plants and additional mulch were then added around the patio, deck and pathway..

The final step was to treat the lawn for weeds, then overseed it so by next spring it will be lush and green, complimenting the rest of the yard.  Be sure to wait at least six weeks after treating for weeds to overseed your lawn so your new grass sprouts will not be affected by the weed treatment.

The makeover was a complete success, with cost kept to a minimum by using recycled materials as well as the homeowner’s and her son’s manpower:

I can’t wait until next season, to see how it looks when the plants have a chance to settle into their new homes.  Next spring I will edge the garden area so there is a distinct demarcation line between the garden and lawn, and so cutting the lawn will be simple…stay tuned!

Patio Restoration

For many hours this past month one of my large projects was to restore a patio and walkway in one of my favourite Kanata gardens.  The extensive patio and walkways were constructed approximately 7 years ago using an intricate and beautiful combination of flagstone as well as interlocking rectangular and square pavers, surrounding an exquisite custom-built home in one of Kanata’s most desirable neighbourhoods.

My job was to restore the patio and walkways to their former glory, as they had become weed, moss and ant infested over the years.  It was quite a massive undertaking for me, as I had no previous experience with this type of landscaping, work as a one woman team, and generally specialize in garden design and maintenance.

I consulted with a few friends that have built and maintained patios to find out the best way to get rid of the unwanted moss and weeds, then replace them with a polymer sand product to discourage their return.  Although I do realize that moss between flagstones can offer a desirable and natural look in some gardens, I agreed with the home owner that this was not suitable for this magnificent home as it appeared neglected and unappealing, rather than intentional yet natural.

This home is built in a natural woodland setting, so the first step was to sweep the walkways and patios clean of leaves, dirt, twigs, deer and rabbit poop etc.  I then enlisted the help of my 16 year old son to power wash the stones,  especially the cracks in between the stones, to remove the clumps of moss and weeds.  I am not sure what was originally used between these stones as a sealant, but whatever it was, there was not much of it left in the cracks,  so the weeds,  moss and ants had clearly taken over….

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Once the patio and walkways were completely cleaned, I had to wait for a few consecutive sunny days with no chance of rain.  Last summer, this would not have been a problem, but this summer it was much more challenging.  The instructions for the polymer sand indicate that the area to be sealed must be completely clean and dry before sweeping the polymer sand between the cracks.  Then the area must be gently wet with a hose several times to complete the sealing process.  It must then dry for at least 24 hours without rain, excessive heat or cold, nor foot traffic, to ensure a proper and successful seal.

The end result is beautiful though, hopefully long-lasting and well worth the effort.  The  greenish tinge on the patio beneath the swing in this picture is not moss, just a reflection of the lush greenery in the damp patio stones after completion of the project…

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