This blessing, however, presents a problem. My driveway is only 20 feet wide and 78 feet long. Crammed end to end, I could fit about 6 cars in it. Our garage (crammed with other stuff) is attached and faces the street, so while urban neighborhoods often have a detached garage in the back and a back yard to stuff an extra vehicle into, our driveway, so far, has been the only parking available for us. This has made shuffling the vehicles a bit awkward at times. The solution dawned on me last fall - I need (just like a couple of my neighbors have) an extra parking spot. Thus began a seemingly simple project: kill the grass, spread some gravel around, call it good. Alas, "simple" quickly led to "expensive" as my over-developed sense of perfection took over.
Here's the final bill of materials. The initial grading was "free" since I already own the 1973/4 International Harvester 284 which I used to scrape the area bare.
|Fuel for Tractor and Hauling|
|Pressure Treated Landscaping Ties|
|12 Tons of 305 unscreened gravel, delivered|
|Bobcat S150 Rental, w/ Trailer|
The lumber yard got me for $36 each on the 6, 6" x 6" x 12 ft landscaping ties. Once upon a time you could get them a lot cheaper. My dad and I built a lot of stairs and retaining walls when I was a kid and I remember they were closer to $8 a piece back then. But, they make in my case what is essentially a weed barrier and retaining "wall", albeit only about 2" tall. I buried them 4" in the ground to keep them from sliding out of place, and to keep grass rhizomes from creeping under them.
Why 12 tons of gravel? Because I wanted the gravel bed to be deep enough that my vans wont sink into the wet clay beneath after a heavy rain. And I needed some extra gravel for an upcoming project.
The Dr's visit was for a hernia. Yes - long heavy beams should not be lifted up by one person. Turned out to be minor enough that with care it went away, for the most part, in a few months time. It did slow me down quite a bit last fall, however, when I began this project.
While the project started with grading the grass off last fall, followed by digging long square trenches by hand with a spade, the gravel was dropped in the street last night and I had it scraped up, spread around and packed down with the Bobcat by this afternoon. The results are probably not all that impressive, but the suddenly open driveway feels spacious.
|Bus Parking Only|
A somewhat separate project was the disposal of the dirt that I scraped up to make a level spot in the yard to begin the project. I had thought about using it to level a part of the hill in the back yard, but there wasn't enough to make much of a difference. Instead, I decided to cover it with a truck bed load of mulch ($40) and plop a Sand Cherry tree in it ($37). The rock border was a happy find that I discovered on my property when I was trying to dig a flat spot into a hill to park a future gazebo. In my way was a vein of sand stone. It yielded up several stones of varying sizes and makes an attractive border for my dirt pile.
|Dirt pile? What dirt pile?|
So, if you're considering this project for your parking needs, you can save yourself some money by doing some things yourself. While the Bobcat rental and gravel was expensive, having a parking spot made for me could have run into the low thousands depending on the contractor you have chosen.
Having a truck to tow the Bobcat on its trailer 10 miles too and from the rental place saved me $115 on delivery. But it also ate up a lot of gas in the F250's V10, did a number on my brake pads (I could smell them on the way back into town) and gave me a chiropractic exam as the combined mass of the trailer and Bobcat S150 fought with the truck all the way to and from the store. That was probably the most unnerving part of the whole experience. Driving the Bobcat was a piece of cake and saved me a lot of time and effort. If you have a big job to do, make it smaller by renting or borrowing some big tools. :-)