The driveway is officially finished. When Matt asked whether it had turned out the way we anticipated, both Mark and I told him it was so much more dramatic and beautiful than we had imagined. Here are some photos from the last bits of construction. I'm planning one last post to show some of the details because the way the pavers and boulders all fit together to create a seamless whole is striking.
You can see that there is just the last bit of driveway to be compacted and fitted with pavers. But they ran out of bricks, so Matt picked up another palette in his truck. That meant that they had to figure out a way to get them out of the truck and at the spot they needed them. So the guys came up with this "slide" process.
Down to the last row of pavers which all need to be cut and fitted at the curb.
Mark sets the last full size paver in the driveway at 12:48 p.m. on Wednesday, July 30.
Next the long sides of the driveway were finished. Here Matt is cutting a long curve with the diamond saw.
Leftover brick bits from all the cuts that Matt made fitting bricks up to rocks and along the edges of both sides.
This side has a straight edge except where it curves toward the street. You can see the edging put in along the side with big spikes to keep everything in place.
Among the last tasks was setting two stones in the quirky space next to the big rock adjacent to the house.
It involved more cutting and fitting than Matt had hoped.
These photos make it look like he could just push it in place with one hand but this was a very heavy stone and took a lot of effort to move.
Getting it perfectly positioned.
The last step was to brush sand into the spaces between the pavers and then compact it. This took an entire day.
I helped with this just enough to know that it was more tiring and difficult than it looks.
We had a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the official end of the project at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4th.
Matt and Mark survey their work. If you look at the pavers you can just see that the very last step in this project was to hose down the driveway to make sure the water ran downhill properly and also to be sure that the sand was correctly compacted and did not wash out. It passed both tests with no problems.
One last post to come: The Details.
If you want to see this how this complex driveway project unfolded from start to finish CLICK HERE. Remember that the most recent post is always at the top. If you want to start from the beginning and follow along in the correct chronological order, you must scroll down to the "last" post in this entire group — which is actually the first segment I put on line. It is well worth looking at these pictures so you understand the stages of a job like this and also see the care with which Matt Wieneke does his work.
When we initially talked with Matt Wieneke about the driveway project, including the rock wall and steps, he suggested we use a large stone at the front door. It would be set at the same level as the driveway pavers and would nicely set off the entrance. We thought it was a great idea and the stone got placed last week when Matt had his friends helping him with our project.
I suggested we trim the stone into a rectangle since it was going into a corner and would have plenty of asymmetrical rock work near it. I didn't want too much happening visually in the space by the door that would detract from the dramatic rock wall. So Matt trimmed the edges!
The gravel was compacted and leveled in preparation for the stone.
The the stone was strapped up and lifted by the heavy equipment with two people on the ground as it were, maneuvering it into place.
The stone resting in its new home.
In the almost 20 years we've been working on our garden, Mark has designed and built fences and gates, a stucco tea house, set dozens of stepping stones and built assorted rock walls. As a result, I know how much time is spent measuring, measuring gain, getting things level and at the proper depth. Even setting one stone like this is a complicated and time consuming job.
This is a not only a spectacular piece of Wisconsin geology but it's also a piece of our history. In Wisconsin, we can point to the spot the glacier bypassed, known as the Driftless Area. We can also point to where the glacier stopped. Before it did, it scrapped across the landscape and smoothed out the surface of this stone which came from a quarry near West Bend. Even though it's muddy in the photo, you can see the glacial scrape marks on it!
If you look at the height of this glacial stone you can tell how much gravel and sand still need to be put down and compacted before the pavers can be laid. But they've been delivered so we are approaching that stage of the project.
To see all the stages of this big project, click on Driveway Project in the categories list.
This week began with more rain: the fourth wet Monday in a row. Last Monday, July 6, the rain turned the driveway into the mucky mess seen below. Mark and Matt gave up in disgust.
The next day, however, Matt brought in a couple of landscaper friends and the three of them, along with Mark, made great progress — despite the wet conditions.
First Matt put tubing from one side of the driveway to the other so if we ever want to add outdoor lighting, there is a way to get the wires to the other side without having to remove the pavers.
While he worked on that project, the guys pulled out and took away all of the remaining driveway concrete. Then they started to dig out the mud and bring in gravel. Three loads of clay soil went out and three loads of gravel came in. The gravel was spread out by hand, using little blue "Guido" and with large equipment. Check it out!
By the end of the week the driveway had gone from this . . .
to this! Suddenly it's all coming together. (You wet down the gravel before compacting each successive layer.)
To follow all the stages of this project, click on Driveway Project in the categories list.
It's warm, humid, windy and getting darker by the minute. Rain is clearly on the way. The gardener in me is happy at the prospect of rain. We have a tour of our garden scheduled for late August and some July rain would be a big help in keeping things looking good. I already have a pair of hoses hooked together to reach all the plants that are in the holding beds. Plus a peony, eight big Hostas and a clump of Eupatorium 'Chocolate' that got dug up when Matt was setting boulders last week. That's about as much watering as I want to do.
To be honest, however, I must admit that the homeowner in me does not want rain as Matt and Mark are out in the driveway digging down — excavating by hand — as they start to remove more soil in preparation for laying the gravel base for the pavers.
Matt's four-wheel drive, articulated front end loader is Italian and referred to as "Guido."
This is what Matt was using this morning to move the dirt he and Mark were digging out.
It took the better part of a week for the muck to dry out after last Monday's rain. So part of me really did not want more rain to slow down the project. But the sky kept getting darker as they worked. (My Traffic Island garden glows in this low light).
Weather Bug tells the story.
As soon as the rain began to fall the guys realized it was going to pour off the roof into the trench they'd just dug as Mark had removed the gutters to make it easier to work.
So they quickly put together a "Rube Goldberg" contraption to funnel the water away from the house. Back to a mucky driveway and work temporarily put on hold.
We began our driveway rock garden project on Friday, June 19th with the arrival of the giant Caterpillar earth (and rock) mover. That was followed by the first load of boulders. Work officially began on Monday with no break last weekend. Over the eight days our builder Matt, and my husband Mark, have been working we've had rain on five days — almost two inches total. Here's what's happened since I last posted.
DAY 4 (Thurs. June 25): View from the garage, loading excavated concrete and soil
Matt compacting soil for the first step leading up into the front garden
Placing the second step
DAY 5 (Fri. June 26): Setting boulders alongside the steps
Team work (Matt on the left and Mark on the right)
More step material
Measuring for a cut
So far, so good
A little off the sides
DAY 6 (Sat. June 27): Moving the Big Boy who weighed around 9 tons (8.16466266 metric tonnes)
DAY 7 (Sun. June 28):Nearing the summit
DAY 8 (Mon. June 29): Squaring it up (this stone will sit at ground level at our front door)
The summer we put in our pond was very, very rainy. It felt like we were dealing with a sink hole that kept filling up with water. Thus I was able to take it more in stride when it started raining Monday morning during our first day of construction on our driveway project.
But before it began to rain Matt first moved the boulders out of the way so he could maneuver the CAT. Then he began to break up the section of the driveway closest to the house.
He piled some of the boulders up on the bank.
He pulled out the remains of our Doublefile Viburnum that we planted in 1998. It took a hit in the bad winter of 2013/14 and never recovered. Then he started scooping out some of the dirt where the first big boulders will go.
Debris was carted away by a local dump truck company. Amazing enough that turned out to be Ken Haugen who dug our pond back in 1997. Ken is a consummately skilled craftsman and watching him operate the track hoe on that job was an education.
Then it rained.
It was a morning that required a lot of patience and concentration.
Though we created a unified design for our entire garden before any actual work began, we constructed it from the back lot line out to the front. Now we're about to begin the last major construction project — one that Mark can't do on his own with a little help from me.
We're having an informal rock wall built into the sloping side of the driveway with stone steps leading up into the main front garden. This images shows the front end of the slope out toward the street.
This image shows the higher end of the slope which is closest to the house. (This view with the pile of stones is from our path project in 2009.)
Once the wall is finished it will be followed by the construction of a new driveway made of paving bricks.
But before construction could begin we needed to dig out any plants that I wanted to save from the long border on the opposite side of the driveway.
Landscaper Matt Wieneke, who's doing the work for us, suggested it would be safest to remove the first two feet of plants the entire length of the driveway which is easily 60 feet long (18.288 meters).
Mark put up a string line so I could clearly see what had to go. I dug out quite a few plants but he helped me with the big swath of Epimedium rubrum which was a solid block of roots.
The next step was to put all these plants into temporary holding beds — not something most of us gardeners tend to have. Luckily we had already made the decision to redo the moss bed under the apple trees this summer so it seemed like the perfect spot to create holding beds.
Mark had already taken down the dying apple tree. Now he put down rows of newspapers held in place with bricks. Then he piled on commercial topsoil. We began with two planting rows.
Many of the plants, like Allium senescent 'Glauccum', tended to break into lots of pieces when I dug them out. Thus it didn't take long to see that we had enough plants to fill twice that space. So Mark created two more planting rows and I started putting the transplants closer together.
The beds have Alliums, Epimediums, Hostas, Carex, Heucheras and more. I topped them off with a bag of Locust leaves I raked up last fall. I figured the slightest rain would wash the dirt away otherwise.
We ended up with five rows of plants. We dug out the last few things just before the big equipment got delivered last Friday morning. The first delivery of boulders arrived on the weekend. Can't wait for the work to begin!
Our garden has a pair of full size Macintosh apple trees that were planted when our house was built in 1954. Unfortunately they were never pruned in the early days to control their shape. So they've grown splayed open with the crotch of the trees collecting water and weakening them. The photo below is from 2010.
The tree in the foreground in the picture above was down to its last limb when we finally cut it down this week. The picture below shows the stump more or less even with the ground and the last chunk of the trunk. The dark spots are rotted sections with openings of various sizes.
The apple trees presided over my original moss garden. When we were initially creating the garden I could not do any planting for the first few years as we created the hardscaping and paths. So I pulled out the grass under these trees exposing the moss growing there. It was a relaxing project and for a long time I enjoyed weeding this area. But now there are too many other chores and this has become a labor intensive area with not enough visual reward for the energy required to maintain it.
After taking down the one apple tree Mark pruned the other to take some weight off the limbs and allow more light through. This area is about to become a temporary holding bed while we do our last big front garden project: replacing the driveway and turning the slope up to the garden into an informal rock garden complete with stone steps. Before the work begins mid-month, I need to remove two feet of plants the length of the driveway border. Thus this area under the apple tree will handle those plants until the project is finished and they can return home.
Then we will redesign the apple tree garden. No clear plan at the moment — other than incorporating the 15 solid green Hakonechloa plants I bought a few weeks ago. They are currently living in pots on the deck.