Hill Street Views: Adventures in garden landscaping – Part 1
After four long years in the garden, it’s time to finally do something about it.
When we moved into our house in late 2016, my wife and me were delighted to be able to sit back and enjoy our new space without getting stuck in all those horrific murals or kitchen fixtures, or even picking out carpets or hardwood floors ;; It was all done for us – the beauty of really buying a showhouse.
Unfortunately, this brings with it a certain amount of laziness.
Until last Friday there wasn’t a single shelf on the wall or a decent wardrobe in the whole house.
Rather cheap clothes rails adorn most rooms and while they are practical (and cheap, did I mention that?) They are unsightly and, God bless them, overworked at this stage. Unfortunately, we had to send two of them to the recycling center in the past few months – they just weren’t able to endure the undue burden of increasing amounts of clothing – and their backs eventually gave way.
Including one rather awkward moment when I was in the storage room on a Zoom call for work.
In the middle of the call, a sudden sharp crack was followed by the complete collapse of the clothes rail above me.
I was able to free myself of suits, jackets, pants, etc. from the avalanche just in time to see the amazed and bewildered looks on the faces of my colleagues. Oh how we laughed.
But the wardrobes and shelves – unless the weekend of bank holidays brought with it a renewed urgency to fix both – have to wait. Their place on the DIY triage list rose to number two and three, respectively.
At the top of the list is building a terrace and renovating the garden in general as the sunny days have come and the reality of socializing outdoors has become more urgent (Prost Covid).
And to think it only took the minor part of a global pandemic to get my ass off the couch and focus on that particular domestic issue.
Of course, as with any major construction project, a number of people are involved; and with people come opinions, I’ve recognized.
In this case, these ‘people’ are me and my significant other.
As a gardening / home improvement guy, I would have preferred to take the opportunity to call the guys in Kilsaran and get them to throw several mini-mix loads of concrete all over the place – “Bob is your uncle, let’s have a grill to buy!”
As I said, laziness is my default setting in so many aspects of my life.
My wife is the more creative though, and a solid Soviet uniform with gray concrete wasn’t part of her mood board. Fair enough, you say.
With Pinterest, she managed to conjure up what I initially called the “bloody island of love in the suburbs”. For which I was shot a look that made my heart cold and closed my mouth completely.
But as the man of the house (supposedly) it was now my duty to contact potential landscapers and get them to take a look at the garden and the plans we had for the “suburban retreat of our dreams” (my words )).
I felt this was going to be a real test of my manhood; My ability to sound like I know what I’m talking about when it comes to hardcore landscaping and other manly things.
Most of these guys are gnarled veterans with humps on their backs and hands like worn shovels.
On the other hand, I have the paws of a kitten and the torso strength of a newborn.
Even so, this was my moment to show that working as a construction site worker would endure in the glorious summer of 1998, shortly after my Junior Cert (two As, five Bs and we won’t mention Irish or Math) Served well years later.
After contacting the first landscaper, I was asked problem number 1: determining the dimensions of the garden.
This required some kind of measuring device, but unfortunately I just had to have on hand a tape measure for clothes that were woefully meager 3 meters in length.
With my considerable problem-solving ability, I asked my beloved to join me in the garden and act as the holder of the dummy end of the ribbon (I tried a joke about the use of the word “dummy” – it crashed, burned, and then exploded something).
Gradually I managed to measure the length and width of the garden in pieces of 3 meters.
I noted the measurements and forwarded them to the potential landscaper via WhatsApp.
Moments later I received a big yellow thumbs up, followed by a message that he would be over in a few days for an initial consultation and work out an offer.
By the time he arrived in a maroon van that bared the scars of a popular workhorse, I had prepared myself for the slang of the phrase: “planters,” “raised beds,” “sleepers,” “8 by 6” or 6 by 6 for the shed ? ‘- I felt ready.
Christy (not his real name) turned out to be an adorable character who quickly saw through my thinly camouflaged storyline, but was nonetheless kind enough not to blow his nose out laughing.
Fortunately, after we talked about what we wanted and he had gently changed my honestly terrible attempts to describe what we had visualized beforehand, he wisely decided to measure the garden – “just to be sure to be that you know yourself “.
It turned out that I was only half a meter in the width of the garden and a smidge over a meter in length.
We said goodbye, he said he would have an offer for me in a day or two and I thought wearily, “I’ll make sure it is available next time – just to make sure you know yourself”.