As summer fades away and fall starts stripping the aspen leaves, I have a tendency to push aside any thoughts of cleaning and press firmly on the panic button for all the last little things to do outside before it starts staying cold all day. Surprisingly this fall, most of the things left to do actually involve cleaning, or at least some attempt to tidy up the projects that hubby and I have gotten mostly completed.
For example, cleaning up that big pile of dirt by filling back in the holes over the septic tank lids.... and maybe make them look a little nicer in the process. When digging them up, I found out that the cat-litter buckets I put into one side last time turned out to be a great idea and made digging the almost 3ft by 2ft deep holes about half the work. I also realized that if I have to dig the lids out by myself, the white planter barrel is too darned heavy to move around without some creative physics experimentation, two shovels, and a smooth board.
So this time, when filling them back in, I put four cat litter buckets (right side up so that the flanges would not keep them stuck into the ground) in each hole. Then I filled around and on top of them. So that I would not have so much irritation mowing around the planters, I topped each hole off with some patio bricks. Now I can mow right across the top, but still not worry about locating the lids and tearing up grass every few years.
It was surprising how much more "decorative" the bricks looked with a narrow offset brick on each side. And possibly more surprising is the dramatic difference some piled up native rocks makes the grill paddy look from the "privacy wall" side... and a little fill-in dirt along the walkway.
And I have some great advice for how to get those rocks to stay put... keep stacking them up over and over until they don't fall down anymore. Okay... so maybe not the MOST helpful advice, but it was the thing that worked. I will probably need to keep finding larger rocks to add on to the pile for a while, but in the meantime, it looks better than it did.
Speaking of better than it did, I also filled in the gaps that were left after laying the chisel-cut bricks next to the doorway cement and the walkway. I put some thin-set mixed with red and a little brown cement dye into a ziplock bag, cut the corner, and piped it into the gaps like icing a cake. It worked much better than I hoped, and it took very little sanding afterwards to get it ready to be sealed with the same waterproofing spray that I used on the grill wall.
Of course, I did do some house work. I swept and I mopped the house. Yea, okay... don't fall over from shock. It wasn't inside the house.
I mopped as much as I could reach of the front of the house hoping that the clean would help blend the new paint around the doors and the old paint on the siding. It didn't help much.
What did help (at least my feelings), was a good sweep-up around my porch swing where a lot of the paint we scraped off the facia-trim near the roof had piled up with old weeds and debris from many projects over the summer.
So, of the about 50ft of patio that looked like it was hit by a pissed-off tornado, there is now about 10ft next to the grill that looks nice with newly re-laid bricks, and about 10ft around my swing that is at least semi-tidy. And that is probably where I stop for the year, because the area between the two just isn't worth fixing right now.
... and of course, eventually I do have to at least pretend to do some housework inside the house.