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the house update du mois
Once again I have failed to do anything with my lj this week. My excuse is that most evenings I have been gardening. For some reason possibly connected to the previous inhabitants being art students (who paid £300 to have a tv aerial installed), nothing has been done to the garden in years. The little patch of land at the front of our house (approx 6 foot x 4 foot) is (deliberately) covered in stones, which would look really nice with a few large pots of flowers to brighten it up. The problem is, it was laid as stones straight on top of earth, so weeds can grow through the stones - which looks absolutely awful. I don't want to use weedkiller, so for the next few months (until I've got rid of all the underground seeds), I'll have to weed the garden every couple of weeks. You remember I gave the size of the plot? Well, weeding it thoroughly takes about 8 hours. Fun, huh? Actually, I don't mind on a nice day if I have my stereo blaring to keep me amused... it's quite rewarding.

We have also been wrecking the decking in the back garden. We started off trying to break it apart carefully so I could just clear out the weeds, rubble and junk underneath it, but it was so badly weatherproofed that all the nails had rusted through and most of the wood is rotten. However, we can't just remove the decking and then lay a lawn (for instance) on the ground underneath - because several parts of the back garden have no ground! Literally - if I removed all the rubble there would just be a several-foot-deep hole. As we can't afford to spend any money on landscaping it properly, it looks like the best thing for us to do is to simply clear the land underneath, salvage as much as is possible, and then remake it, properly weatherproofing it in the process. But that takes large amounts of time and effort (and Richard is hardly ever home before it's dark).

It's quite funny: having budgeted to buy the house, we're having to budget several years into the future to pay for all the improvements. This year's big job was damp proofing the downstairs and painting all the rooms, next year's is removing the horrible lumpy render from all over the back of the house, finding out why our kitchen ceiling is sagging and doing whatever structural stuff needs doing to fix that, & replastering Richard's small room. The year after that we can finally replace the horrible cheap kitchen that is falling apart (although this may need to be moved earlier if it gives up entirely), and the year after that (2007) we can finally landscape the back garden: assuming that no major disasters occur before then, requiring us to rejig our plan. Planning 4 years into the future? That's scary.

I am still amused by the person who should know better who suggested we'd want to move house again "about the time we have children". Richard was distressed by the implication (that one of our friends didn't know us that well), but I pointed out it was literally true as the time we want to have children is never, and the time we want to move house again is... never.

Current Mood: hungry, tired, washing up

6 comments or Leave a comment
From: kightp Date: 16th August 2004 13:34 (UTC) (Link)
Ah, you've discovered the Secret of Home Ownership: It's the start of one eternal do-it-yourself project. Wave farewell to the concept of "disposable income" (well, for those who ever had such a thing).

Oddly, this turns out to be not so bad a thing, because, well, it's yours (for various values of "yours," usually including "you and your lenders").

And yes, I've also found it strange to be budgeting ahead for things like a roof (last year) and exterior repainting (next year). It makes me feel like such a ... grownup. (-;

geminigirl From: geminigirl Date: 16th August 2004 13:37 (UTC) (Link)
But see, that's just it...I always think of you as a grownup. And if you're saying you only feel like one, then what in the world am I doing?

From: kightp Date: 16th August 2004 13:51 (UTC) (Link)
All joking aside, it took me till after I was 50 to decide I could claim "grownup" status without implying that I'd lost the ability to have fun.

The '60s have a lot to answer for. (-:
baratron From: baratron Date: 16th August 2004 14:19 (UTC) (Link)
I have often found it useful to distinguish between "grown-up" and "adult". In my lexicon, an adult is a person legally above the voting age who is able to be responsible for a great number of things, including themselves - but who has no particular need to be conventional and boring except when it is necessary for safety reasons. A "grown-up" is someone who has taken on all those responsibilities, lost their sense of fun, and cares only about what the neighbours think. HTH ;)
From: jinian Date: 16th August 2004 14:15 (UTC) (Link)
It's possible to use vinegar or other household prodcuts to change the pH of soil so that weeds won't grow in it, and it washes away after a while so the soil is usable for other things. There's also the black plastic over everything route. But I rather like weeding too.
From: hatter Date: 17th August 2004 03:31 (UTC) (Link)
The black plastic option would be my choice to make your life easier. Pull up as many weeds as you can be bothered, lay some nice thick liner, and stick the stones back on top. The lack of light for a year or two should stop most plantlife and let the bacteria have a good go at converting any remaining roots and bits to compost.

As for the holes in the back garden, if you're pulling out all the rubble, then you could try getting a bag or two of soil when someone's taking a car near the garden centre, and slowly fill them that way. I'm sure richard could manage to drag the bag to the hole, attack it with a knife, then empty the bag into the hole, even while it's pretty dark. You can get a garden that way for not so much money and in not so much time, before deciding to spend the time and moeny on decking.

the hatter
6 comments or Leave a comment