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JWK's Garden Destruction

Discussion in 'Garden Projects and DIY' started by JWK, Jul 15, 2008.

  1. JWK

    JWK Gardener

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    Following much demand from everyone on this forum to see pictures (well just one person actually – you know who you are!) I rashly promised to post details of my current building/garden project. It's about half way through now so there is some catching up to do.

    We live on the side of the Hog’s Back, which is the end of the North Downs in Surrey, so the garden is on a slope, with the house at the bottom and vegetable patch/wild garden at the top. It’s relatively high up and on clear days we can see Heathrow, Wembley Arch, and Canary Wharf on the distant horizon. We’ve lived here over 20 years and got the garden into a reasonable state, this is what it looked like about 2 years ago:
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    So we started to dig it up. Why? Because we got permission to extend the house, and the only way to extend is into the slope. Starting in April 2007 I dug out the lower borders – any half decent plants were potted up and saved in my vegetable patch:

    [​IMG]

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    You can see the really poor depth of soil we have, only about 12 inches before we hit chalk:
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    Being very eco minded to avoid ruining more beauty spots with landfill (and not at all because I’m tight fisted and didn’t want to pay for skips) I decided to dump all the excavated chalk & soil further up the garden to create a terrace:
    [​IMG]

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    then built a retaining wall from the demolished stone wall from the bottom of the garden, this was June 2007:
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    Our old conservatory finds a new home in Crawley thanks to ebay:
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    I was going to do as much of the building work myself but old age and incompetence conspired against me. I hired a mini-breaker one weekend to demolish the old stone retaining wall, but my joints suffered and would not stand up to demolishing the concrete patio & paths with a bigger breaker. So we employed ground workers in September. One good thing about chalk is it drains really well, so the moat they created didn’t keep us out the house for too long:
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    Master JWK tries his hand at the lucky dip:
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    We hired a concrete pump as hand barrowing several tonnes of ready mix up-hill was too much like hard work, the foundations needed about 6 cubic yards and the floor slab about the same again (Note Mrs JWK & Miss JWK supervising):
    [​IMG]


    The ground workers finished their bit in October. They ran in new drains, dug a soak-away in the front garden and connected all the new drainage into the sewer main. This is the damp proof course level:
    [​IMG]


    That takes us up to November 2007 - more coming in the next post....
     
    • Like Like x 3
    • Ivory

      Ivory Apprentice Gardener

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      Wow, this is very interesting keep them coming... I know WHO pestered you for pics in the first place but now there will be two of us. ;)
       
    • AndyK

      AndyK Apprentice Gardener

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      post more!! Must.... see... results!
       
    • Kristen

      Kristen Under gardener

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      Make that three!

      Blimey John! You could have done with my big yellow wheel barrow! I expect you were fitter after barrowing that lot up hill.

      And sorry to hear your incontinence prevented you building your extension :D
       
    • JWK

      JWK Gardener

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      You got me with that one, had to scroll up and double check i'd spelled it right :)
       
    • JWK

      JWK Gardener

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      I got a ride-on mower with a tow hitch and little trailer off ebay, but it doesn't get a grip in wet conditions and takes even longer to load and unload becuase it doesn't tip. Its back on ebay just as soon as the scaffolding comes down (It doesn't fit round the side right now - another mistake)

      I would not have tried saving all the chalk except that I miscalculated the number of wheelbarrow loads, I'd estimated 35 cubic yards of chalk would come out the ground, and worked that out to be 150 barrow loads. It came out nearer 1,500 loads in the end, I must have dropped a nought - ah well I lost about 20lbs in weight which was a good thing.
       
    • Kristen

      Kristen Under gardener

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      " It came out nearer 1,500 loads in the end"

      :eek:

      You should have recorded time-lapse from a web-cam and put the theme tune from Benny Hill as a backing track!
       
    • JWK

      JWK Gardener

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      Hee Hee - it took me about 3 months, evenings & weekends, but I could only manage about 10 barrows or so in each session - then needed a 1/2 hour rest and a cuppa. I would not attempt it again.
       
    • Little Miss Road Rage

      Little Miss Road Rage Apprentice Gardener

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      Looking good but need the next episode cause I is impatient (typical woman lol)
       
    • The Nut

      The Nut Gardener

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      Wow..Gosh... Blimey.... What a project. Well worth the long long long long wait John. Its HUGE :eek: Its looking excellent already. I must join the list of peeps who will be pestering you for more pics :D
      One small question if I may be so bold. Why are you extending an already mahoosive house? Come on fess up John its for little old me innit :) don be bashful tell aunty Nut .
      Oh and if you want me to get who ever has been tormenting you for pics just let me know ok?
      Totally fantasic job. your back must be knackered. Have your arms got any longer?
       
    • JWK

      JWK Gardener

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      Thanks for the comments all.

      Its not such a massive house already its 4 beds, so when the eldest kids come back to stay we are full. The plans are something we always wanted to do, it would have made more sense to have done it when the kids were young, but we couldn't have afforded it then (we can't afford it now either, which is why its mostly DIY). Unfortunately we are not adding any more bedrooms so Nut's kind offer to come and stay just isn't possible.

      Don't worry about my tormentor, I have put a contract out :D

      As for getting longer arms they still don't reach then ends of my pockets according to Mrs
      JWK :rolleyes:

      More pics coming soon :)
       
    • The Nut

      The Nut Gardener

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      bother i thort I had free lodgings for life then...re kids I have some advice when next they leave CHANGE THE BLUMMIN LOCKS !!!!!
       
    • Tropical_Gaz

      Tropical_Gaz Gardener

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      Looking forward to the next installment!!
       
    • JWK

      JWK Gardener

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      Thanks for all your nice feedback so far. Hereâ??s the next instalment, remember itâ??s October 2007.

      The old vegetable patch was a bit messy; being on various slopes and poor soil depth, now was a good time to improve it. This was how it used to look:
      [​IMG]

      I took the glass out of the greenhouses and moved them somewhere safe before the next step.

      Foolishly the ground workers left the keys for their mini digger one weekend and, after a hair-raising trip up the hill, I used it to add more soil to the vegetable patch from the extension excavations and dig foundations for retaining walls. The hill does not look very steep on these photos but when youâ??re on a digger and keep forgetting which lever does what it is very scary:
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      Master JWK demonstrates the traditional Guildford clod hopper dance:
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      I didn't have the bottle to drive the digger back down the last bit:
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      The new vegetable patch retaining wall needs to hold back soil up to 5 ft high so it must be substantial. I took delivery of 140 hollow dense blocks (aka breeze blocks) and four tons of sand and cement (Nov 2007):
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      Hereâ??s the ramp made from scaffold boards to barrow all the materials up the garden, the slopes make this tricky work and on freezing or wet days it was just too slippery:
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      The walls started to go up in early December:
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      I use a pick axe to break up the chalk but there are layers of flints which either shatter or make the pick axe bounce. The flint shards are razor sharp so safety glasses are essential. I practised â??knappingâ?? the flints with the idea of making decorative panels in the walling:
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      I thought using flint would save me some money. Actually I saved about £10 in fewer concrete blocks, but it took me about 40 hours to knap, reinforce, build and point the two panels, therefore my hourly rate is 25p. Years ago as a student I remember getting 2s 6d an hour over the summer holidays â?? I am very happy to have doubled that. I finished the structural part of the walls by February (I intend to render the concrete blocks at some point purely for cosmetic reasons):
      [​IMG]


      So by late April to early May I get the vegetable patch levelled, move the greenhouses into new positions and started to plant. For a â??treatâ?? I bought 30 bags of â??Organicâ?? compost to improve the soil all over the new vegetable raised beds â?? big mistake! In June I discovered the compost was contaminated with weedkiller, but thatâ??s another story :(
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      By July some plants recover from the dodgy compost â?? or it might be the additional soil depth, the marrows are making an escape bid:
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      Next installment coming soon ....
       
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      • Kristen

        Kristen Under gardener

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        " I didn't have the bottle to drive the digger back down the last bit:"

        Getting in, and out, of my pond was similarly hair raising. I put the front bucket in and lifted it about a foot, and then edged forward - so that the front bucket took the impact as the digger lurched over the edge, but limited how far I could "fall". The last bit, with the digger at about 50 degrees, I suppose, showed me how low, actually, its centre of gravity was.

        I then realised that the bucket could be used to make a more gentle ramp to use instead. Not nearly so much fun though!

        Anyway, you'll need to remember that when you dig all the herbicide-infected soil out and barrow it down the hill - I reckon your veg patch is much bigger than the bank you removed for the extension, don't forget to multiple your number-of-barrows estimate by 10 this time :rolleyes:

        "therefore my hourly rate is 25p"

        You'll be inundated with job offers!

        Fabby looking retaining wall; the flints is a much better idea than just a flat wall.

        Looks like a huge amount of work to me (EVEN to me!). Well done!
         

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