Saturday, September 5, 2009

Never A Day Off!!!

Just a few days ago – Wednesday and Thursday – I had two days off. The high school that I drive bus for was having two days of teacher’s meetings and the like. I thought that I would be spending my time relaxing with a book in our back garden… but that didn’t happen!

I had spent a lot of time this spring, planning the garden expansions that I wanted to create as well as a few other repair jobs. My landlord really enjoys the fact that I am so pro-garden-active and he agreed to let me do some work around the house in exchange for discounts on our rent.

This picture clearly shows how many years of neglect have created a problem with the sides and edges of the asphalt driveway. All the many flower bulbs that were planted in the garden area on the inside of this fence have – slowly through time – broken the edges of the asphalt. Each year the flowers have slowly expanded these frayed edges and now we can see that quite a large area of ‘accidental garden’ has been created.

This is the trunk of the same tree – from the first photo – and you can see how it has grown through the wire fence. I would guess that this tree was about six years old until I chopped it down to save the fence. If it was left unattended for another two or three years we would see that the fence would actually have started lifting out of the ground – creating an even bigger problem, costing more to repair.

After I had cleared away all the vegetation from the edges of the driveway I used a rented concrete saw to cut away the frayed edges, leaving a nice straight edge. I should have taken a picture of me after I had completed this task – LOL! – I was covered in dirt and dust from head to toe!!!

This picture shows how thin the asphalt is – just about two inches thick. No wonder the neighbouring plants found it easy to creep into this area. Since I was going to be repairing this area with about five inches of concrete, I had to remove a lot of this soil.

As I lifted out the broken bits of asphalt I was surprised to see how bad this situation really was. The entire width of the asphalt chunks were covered in Day Lily bulbs – just waiting to create even more damage to the edges of the driveway. I continued to remove about seven inches of this soil. As I dug up each shovel full I separated the root masses from the dirt.

The root masses ended up in my compost heap and the buckets and buckets of dirt ended up being spread throughout the rest of my garden.

It’s always important to me to be as resourceful as possible – when doing anything – and to be as wasteless as possible. By transferring this soil into my existing garden I was able to create no waste during this process.

There! Now my trench was ready to be filled in… almost…

I still had a few piles of broken asphalt to deal with and keeping in mind my ‘wasteless’ attitude I decided…

… to use my sledgehammer to smash the chunks into smaller bits. I filled in the bottom two inches of my trench with these bits.

Since I had made such a mess over the rest of the driveway I decided that all of the dust and dirt would be happy at the bottom of my trench, as well! After a half of an hour with my broom, the trench was now ready to be filled in with concrete.

Ta-da! By the end of the second day, the work was completed. I was really happy with the way this job came together. I had used all the available resources to their maximum efficiency and the only garbage that was created was the plastic bags that the concrete mix came in – which was very little.

It was a lot of hard work, with all the bending, digging, pounding and mixing and I had probably lost a few pounds after hours of sweating in the hot afternoon sun. This was the first time that I had done anything like this and I’m glad that this learning experience gave me a bit more confidence that I’ll be able to use in future projects.

So……this story about my driveway repair may not be the most exciting thing that I’ve ever written about, but I did want to share this experience so that I could empower you – my readers – to realize just how easy it is to walk ‘softly’ on the Earth, by using our imaginations and a bit of considerate thought.


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