Monday, June 8, 2009

The Math of Dirt

The long range plan: Replace the lawn between the sidewalk and the street--sometimes called "the parking" or "the terrace"--with pavers.

The motivation: conserve water and reduce mowing.

The steps so far:

1. ad on Craigslist: "free sod--you cut, you load, you haul." A young couple answered, did a great job.

However. That sod--50 years old--had grown tall with years of accumulated normal thatch decomposing and, in effect, creating soil. Setting the sodcutter at its greatest depth still left the remaining soil about even with the sidewalk and the curb.

"You've got a lot of dirt there, Lee," was the common comment from Those Who Know.

We enlisted the help of Rex (guitar player and contractor) and his wife Sharon and grandson Chance, and JD, manager of his rentals and owner of a stunning home which he built by himself up in the Ochoco mountains. And among JD's credentials, maybe the topmost: He owns a tractor with a bucket. Add Linda and me, and you've got the crew portrait.

The soil to be removed measured thus: 3 inches (depth of paver) by 588 square feet. If one focuses on the inches, it doesn't look like much. But what you have is 147 cubic feet, which is nearly 5 1/2 cubic yards--a small dump truck full.

It wasn't all tractor--shovels, landscape rakes, buckets of rocks up to large grapefruit size (and two marbles and a few shards of a flowerpot).

Little barbecue in the middle of the day.

JD dumped the surplus soil over the fence in the back yard, raw material for Linda's dreams of berms and plantings.

I can't grasp the work it would have taken to get it there by wheelbarrow.

By 5 o'clock the paver area was raked free of rocks and roots and screeded to depth. Amazing.

Now it gets easier.

Love your friends.

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