My task was discussed over breakfast, to transform a patch of gravel outside the back door into a more useful outdoor dining area, some paving and a low wall to hold back the grass, I listened and then asked loads of questions, just as I would have done with a garden design client. How was it going to fit into the plan for the rest of the garden? What else was wanted in this area? Had any consideration been given to shielding the huge barn next door from view? Ideas bounced back and forth and after a while I got the gist of what was required and took myself off with a pad and pencil.
Things happened fast, my idea was embraced even though it was a much larger project than the original suggestion, it encompassed the whole of the side of the house, raised planting borders, a more level lawn for easy mowing and the screening of the barns, although this was to be left for a future project. The removal of an unsightly tree and temporary wooden planter. By mid morning a mini digger had been hired and by early afternoon Ben was busy clearing the ground and digging foundations. The few plants there were lifted and potted temporarily as the ground was cleared in preparation for some fairly major earthworks. I knew the theory of what needed doing from garden design, but had never had the opportunity to attempt most of them in practice. It was going to be a steep and very interesting learning curve.
My rough sketches were modified and amended to incorporate more thoughts and ideas as the digger rolled and the white chalk lines became foundation trenches.
Calculations for volumes of foundations, lengths of walls, blockwork and mortaring were done and the corresponding materials ordered.
Three days into the project, the first cement was mixed in the brand new mixer and poured, as foundations, into part of the 41 metres of trenching that had been prepared.
Ten days later and the walls are all but built and experiments are taking place for the finish of the terrace area. It is a new process for me, meter square areas of concrete are going to be laid in a form with a divided top, each section can then be finished with a different style, giving the appearance of a paved area without having to lay numerous stones. There are pros and cons as with any method and it is fun experimenting with the different options.