Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Where oh where shall my garden go?

After building my garden boxes, it was time to position them. I'd chosen to put my garden along the side of the house as this side gets the most sun, even managing a good morning of sunshine in the darkest winter months, at least until the next door neighbour's trees obscure it. The sun is almost at the point of topping those trees now (beginning of spring) so it should be fine in the summer time. The bottom of the garden is the flattest part, with a slope up to another fairly flat level. For some reason, I decided to place my boxes in a diamond rather than square pattern... not sure why really but it seemed to make sense at the time! I think it makes the garden look interesting anyway, although it is perhaps not an efficient use of space...

I had a bit of help from my flatmate to remove some of the grass from the area I had marked out, although I went around afterwards and straightened it up a bit as his edges weren't that straight.

My lovely cut out square of ground.

I placed weed matting on the ground to stop any weeds from getting into my beds. I don't think that will be too much of a problem, the grass is dying just with me trampling all over it. The box fits over the top and nestles into the cut out square so it won't move too much.

The first two boxes fit snugly in the flattest bit of the garden.

Now came the dilemma of where to put the next box. The further up the garden, the less sunny it is, so I really wanted to keep it close to the first two. Unfortunately there is a bit of a slope in the way.

I decided that the slope wouldn't stop me, I could just dig the bed down into it. Easier said than done, it took me a lot of digging over an afternoon and following morning to get the bed vaguely level. It rained overnight as well, so I was slipping around in the mud a lot, but I think it helped to loosen the heavy clay soil somewhat.

I marked out the area with black tape and then started to dig.

Poppy lends a hand - put your back into it!

Almost finished.

The box goes into place.

This was incredibly hard to do on my own but I got there eventually after quite a bit of heavy work! It is still not quite level but was the best I could get it and I think it will be fine.

The three 4x4ft boxes finally in position.

I've protected them with bird netting, not because of birds but to stop the multitude of cats in my neighbourhood from using them as litter trays. Of course my cat is much better behaved! The grass and soil went behind the fence by the garage to raise that area a bit as I am going to make a pathway around to the side of the garage to make a composting area... don't think the neighbours will mind will they??

All the boxes in place and partially filled with compost. In the back is my 2x4 box which I have placed in an empty space in my old garden bed between two plants I uncovered from the mass of weeds that was originally there. I'll make sure to keep those bushes trimmed and away from my box. It will be planted with raspberry canes - if they fruit higher than the fence I can also go around the fence and pick them.

It was a lot of work to cut into the slope - but I will probably do it again for another 4x4 box at a later date. Either than or cut the whole slope out completely and put in a retaining wall. Tempting, but an awful lot of digging for me...

I also treated the wood with linseed oil to prolong the life of boxes. I will do another coat soon. If only it would stop raining!

Next - filling and planting the boxes!

My Bathroom Renovation, part 1

One of the things I've been itching to get done since I moved into my new house is the bathroom. It was functional (barely) but had a lot of issues, not least the terrible shower water pressure and the fact the shower base was leaking. To get a hot shower you had to turn the shower mixer right around as far as it would go, and then you would get scorching hot water dribbling out. Any less than that and you would just get a cold shower. Not pleasant. I was also fairly convinced the shower had been leaking and rotting the floor away - there was a suspicious sponginess to the floor by the corner of the shower.

It took a long while to find good builders who actually bothered to give me a quote (clearly builders in Dunedin have too much work, as I got a complete lack of response from many of them). The builders I chose were recommended to me on WOMF, which is a useful site for finding recommendations. I'll talk about the builders more when I inspect the finished work!

I chose a new vanity to replace the pedestal sink, and a bath and bath screen with a slide shower to replace the tiny corner shower. I also have a laundry cupboard in the bathroom which accommodates the washing machine. It is actually too big for the purpose, and needed to be made slightly smaller so that the bath could comfortably fit. Even so I do have a slightly shorter than standard bath, but it is still a decent size. The items I chose weren't particularly expensive, but are practical options. The most expensive items were the taps and mixers - I needed good quality tap ware that would function with my unequal low pressure water system. I chose some nice taps from the Methven catalogue, a company well known in NZ for their specialised low pressure tap ware.

On Monday morning the builders and the plumber arrived and started to demolish the existing bathroom. Out came the sink and washing machine, followed by the demolition of the cupboard and shower

When we were able to see the flooring it was obvious that there was extensive water damage and the whole floor would need replacing.

Not only was their water damage from the shower but also from the washing machine. When I first moved in the hot water tap had been leaking, probably for a long time. It was clear the bathroom had been a bit of a DIY job - the floor was just particle board with the vinyl put straight on top, and at one end was a gap where the floor did not even reach the wall! So the floor was removed as well. The builder described it like pulling up weetabix, the damage was that bad. I think the vinyl was the only thing stopping us from falling through!

Luckily the joints underneath the house are in fairly good condition considering the age of the house. We did, however, spend Monday night without a bathroom floor! I'm glad that the toilet is in a separate room! The cat, who likes to explore under the house, was having great fun jumping up onto the joists. Unfortunately she kept disappearing when I tried to take a photo.

I had a slight dilemma about which spout to use on the bathroom vanity as I could not decide from the pictures in the catalogue. The lovely plumber went and got me some spouts to see to help me choose. I posted the photos on Facebook to see what people thought.

I opted for the high-rise spout in the end, it got the most votes! I hadn't been keen on it in the catalogue but seeing it in real life helped a lot.

The building work continues on Tuesday, with the new floor, plumbing and bath being fitted. Excited!