Monday, September 3, 2012

Project: Backyard Beautification, Part 2

Whoa - I wrote most of this right after I finished Part 1, but other things got in the way (such as wedding and an unplanned trip to Canada and stuff...) so I'm just getting around to posting this! Pardon the tardiness - is it too soon to start blaming stuff on my husband?  :)


As soon as our new fence was finished, we stepped back to look at the completed product... and became newly aware of how awful the concrete thing in the backyard was. I call it a 'thing' because we actually don't know what it is... though we're pretty sure it's a war memorial. We were told that the previous owner (the one who loved paneling and hanging swords on fences) was a WWII vet - so we're guessing he built this structure as a memorial to all of his fallen comrades, which is honorable and awesome. And we appreciate the sacrifice of his fallen comrades as well as his service. BUT - we really didn't want a war memorial taking up a good chunk of our already pretty small backyard. Not only was it a space hog, but it was also just really OLD looking. The top of it was painted white at some point, but that was all chipping away and the brick mortar was starting to fall apart... so against the new fence, it really just looked awful.

Before. Already well on our way to an improved back yard with the new fence!
We've had plans to remove it since the initial walk-through with the real estate agent - but we've been putting it off because it is so massive.  We weren't sure how deep the concrete base was and we weren't sure if it went all the way across, or just ran the edges to create a base for the bricks.  AND we were a little paranoid that something was buried in it. No - seriously! When we initially did the walk through with the real estate agent, our first thought was that it was a pet graveyard... because technically those are probably more common backyard occurrences than a war memorial, right?!

Anyway - the fence was finished on Tuesday, and while I was sitting at my desk at work on Thursday, I received the following text from J: "There is something buried in the memorial."

Um. Not exactly the best text to receive. Immediately my stomach jumped into my throat and I felt a minor panic attack starting, until I started to giggle uncontrollably. I think it was panic giggling. I don't know - but it was probably totally inappropriate.

Turns out he dug up a blue Rubbermaid container that was sealed along the top with tape and had fake roses resting on top.  When I asked what it was he replied, "It looks cat-sized. Maybe it's Fluffy." Which of course sent me into another round of inappropriate giggles - because, seriously, if someone down the line were to dig up my old family pets I would be horrified, not giggling like a school girl. Then again, I would be smart enough not to bury them in a sealed plastic container - because where do you think decay goes, people?

This is getting too morbid. Let's just go back to the removing the memorial, because I don't want to admit what we ended up doing with the cat/small dog/pet rabbit/large bird/other similarly-sized organism.

Brick removal = use of brute force = perfect job for J

After the plastic container was removed, J took a sledgehammer to the remaining portion of the concrete and brick. Thankfully the concrete was only about a foot wide and five inches deep - but it was hollow in the middle (which it had to be in order to bury this container deep enough).

Then he dumped the soil that he had initially dug up in the hole that he had created and then planted grass seed. This all happened while I was at work. I just walked up to the house and he was sitting back there in an Adirondack chair admiring his work.  I'm telling you - this guy has demolition down. Detail work? Not so much - but he can tear stuff down/apart/into pieces with the best of them.

So goodbye war memorial. Hello new grass and more space!

AFTER - whoot! Look at all that new open space and green grass!
(Those benches are slated for demolition in the future.)
And yes, for those of you who were worried - we kept Ted Knight.

Rock on Ted. Rock on.


  1. It's nice to know that we aren't the only ones with weird concrete stuff in our back yard(s). In two different houses we (meaning my strong, handsome husband) have removed the following:

    (1) a foot-deep concrete fishpond edged in stones which was built ON TOP of a 9' deep open septic tank lined with stones. Man, what a job that was!!! But we got some great stones out of it for making retaining walls here and there. And since the septic tank was about 100 years old, it was blessedly empty.

    (2) a 6' wide concrete fishpond that had been built beside a willow tree way back when the willow tree was planted (by a previous owner, needless to say). When we had that gigantic and diseased willow tree removed decades later, we discovered the buried fish pond with enormous willow roots all entangled in it. Another horrendous removal job netting us some good rocks -- but an awful lot of busted-up concrete as well. You can read about it here on my husband's blog:

    (3) In another part of the same yard, a much smaller pond-ish thing that was probably intended to be an in-ground birdbath. That one was a piece of cake to remove, but it still counts.

    1. Oh WOW! It's nice to hear from someone else with that sort of strangeness! A fish pond built on TOP of an OPEN septic tank! Egads!

  2. Hi Aunt!
    I miss you so much and can't wait for you to come over for Christmas! I also can't wait to see you're house. It looks great in pictures and I can't wait to see it in person.