The work begins . . . this evening the youngest son and I will begin digging up lawn in the backyard to create an "evening recreational area" for the family and guests. The north end of our backyard has primarily been a haphazard garden of sorts--the first year it was a vegetable garden, then last year a wild flower garden. What it really was was a cultivation area for exotic weeds, and probably several noxious weeds that are illegal in the state of Montana. After visiting a church member's house and having a nice evening around their newly installed fire pit (a tractor tire rim buried in the ground) I was inspired to convert the north forty into a "evening recreational area" complete with a fire pit. The work begins this evening.
My original idea was to keep it simple. I was going to dig a hole in the yard, drop a tractor tire rim in the whole, and call it done. When I explained my plan to the wife I got one of those looks that let me know that this was not acceptable and would never make Martha Stewart happy. Well, after nearly thirty years of marriage I have learned one thing and that is: If Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy! So, to keep the wife and Martha Stewart happy that plan was scuttled for a more elaborate and detailed plan.
This evening we begin with the removal of unnecessary lawn. To broaden the garden area to make it an "evening recreational area" we are going to have to remove a four foot by twenty foot patch of grass and redistribute throughout the rest of the backyard. Ideally a bulldozer would be the best tool for the job, but having no funding to rent the monster tool I will be relying upon the skills of the youngest son and myself using shovels. Having never done this before I am sure that it will work like clockwork--NOT! Anything and everything that could go wrong will probably go wrong--it is the Keener Way!
After enlarging the garden area the next step will be in "weeding" the ground. One thing that I will state about Montana is that it has some of the toughest weeds in the world. I have sprayed, pulled, chopped, and cussed out weeds in that garden plot for the past two summers and the weeds always win. The goal is to sterilize the ground this time around with Preen. According to Preen's propaganda using their product will keep weeds and wayward grass from consuming whole areas of dirt. My experience with any of these products is that they actually are like fertilizer and makes things grow even faster. I am holding them to their "money back" promise, but to take them up on their challenge I am going to till the ground after applying the stuff . . . then I am going to apply it again. It will probably kill all the unwanted plants while at the same time making "evening recreation area" uninhabitable without face masks!
Next will be the black canvas garden tarp. This will be spread across all the exposed, weeded ground. This should be an adventure! Even though the rock/gravel will probably hold it down, I imagine that I will have to buy some stakes or pins to secure it to the ground. I have no faith that the rocks will hold it down effectively, or that one of the dogs might find it an attractive pull toy. If I had my way I would just throw the rock/gravel right onto the ground. It would probably work except that I would end up adding rock/gravel to the area each year as we pound it into the ground. In a couple of years I would have several tons of rocks/gravel, plus they would be all over the yard. Rocks do not work well with lawn mowers!
The rock/gravel--I prefer river rock--will be added once the garden tarp is secure. Rock/gravel is cheap in Montana as it a plentiful resource here. There is rock and gravel every where in Montana--just go hiking in the mountains and you will understand what I am saying. This will be quite a task as there is no way to get the gravel into the back yard without tearing down fences. So the rock/gravel will be placed at the end of the driveway and we have to haul it back in a wheel barrel or in buckets. My body groans at the thought of it all, but it is the finishing touch to the actual "evening recreation area". I don't understand why there is no such thing as "plastic rock/gravel"--I guess when you are surrounded by the stuff who needs the artificial stuff?
Also to be assembled will be the log furniture that the wife purchased for the "evening recreational area". I think she purchased a two-seater with a table between the seats and two chairs. My original intention was lawn chairs or maybe an abandoned couch--but, again, the wife gave me one of those looks and a long pause. So . . . I will be lamenting and assembling furniture for hours on end, but the wife will be happy. She will remind me, "Oh, but wait until you see it--it will be wonderful!"
I imagine that it will be beautiful . . . and, if it is not no body better say differently if they want to live when the "evening recreation area" is completed. Thus it is that I have begun the work on the "evening recreation area" that originally was just going to be a fire ring in the backyard. Shortly the work will be done--for better or worse--and the family and friends will start gathering for some fun under the stars. I'm looking forward to that day when I can sit back in the glow of the fire, enjoy the atmosphere, and have myself nice cold beer while swatting the mosquitoes and other insects of the night. Nothing beats an evening around the ol' campfire--even if it has been relegated to being an "evening recreation area"!