Backyard Reno Problem #7

Most of the plants that were in our backyard had to be removed (most upsetting was Kings Park Special, my gorgeous Callistemon and my lovely Swan River Pea) or relocated (unsuccessfully like Molly, my most favourite Grevillea). But a few plants could stay. These plants have been through a lot. Maggie the Magnolia has had a particularly rough time, being quite big and right in the path of demolition. She had quite a significant branch snapped off during the shed demolition. I watched it happen in horror!


Maggie was always a bit lopsided because she was up against the shed, but losing this branch made her even more lopsided. I’m hoping she fills out a bit more before the wedding.


She’s also been through several rounds of excavation. Adam made a barricade for her to protect her from the patio excavation, which worked well. Although the landscaping company who did this excavation were very rough. The knocked over the pile of bricks you can see on the right of the photo below, which damaged my Captain Cook Callistemon a little. It could have been a lot worse though!


They also thought a good place to rest the heavy block which holds up the temporary fence was on top of a pot plant, damaging the pot and the plant. Unbelievable!


Thankfully they chose a plant that’s hardy as all hell and it’s totally fine. The pot looks crap now but the plant will grow big enough to cover the damaged pot in no time! I think it’s a Jade plant or something? It’s some kind of succulent. My neighbours gave me a small pot that they’d grown from a cutting. A small branch of that cutting was knocked one day and Dad shoved it in this pot. Tough stuff!


Back to Maggie. She’s since been through plenty of knocks as Dad and I built the weatherboard wall behind her. We found her quite annoying! And Adam and friends no doubt gave her a few knocks while painting the weatherboard wall. She’s got little cuts and bruises here and there.


The final knock (and hopefully the last now!) was the final soil excavation where she got heaps of her roots exposed. I’ve since covered most of them up with extra dirt, but you can see a few big ones poking through. I think this has knocked her around a bit. She’s been looking a little sick since this. Some of her new growth has died and her leaves are a little yellow. I’ve been giving her extra love and food and water over the past couple of weeks since the root incident and I’m sure she’ll be fine (the second picture in this post was taken today so she looks pretty good still).


She’s had a tough life, Maggie. She used to live at my brother’s place. He rescued her and put her in a pot before he demolished his house to rebuild. She stayed in that pot for ages, waiting to be planted again. One day, Tom offered her to me. Since we were starting our garden from scratch, an offer of an established plant was very exciting! This is what she looked like when we got her:




She’s a tough cookie!

Backyard Reno Problem #6

Jenny dug a hole.

Well, attempted to and failed miserably! If only I were more like Dale. (Sorry international blog readers, inside Aussie joke).

The problem is that Adam and his muscles and hole digging skills went on a work trip all this week. The backyard reno timeline for this week went as follows:

Dig 4m long, 600mm deep trench
Electrician comes to lay electrical cables and install lights and power points in our enormous shed
Concreters pour in-fill concrete slab in shed

Please note that this timeline didn’t magically fall into place. It involved the concreter (who is also the excavator) being a total utter inflexible, arrogant arsehole to me first, and the electrician being a lovely, lovely, flexible, “no worries, I’ll move all my clients and bend over backwards cos I’m nice” kind of person. Such a contrast! But the arrogant arsehole being the person that he is meant the trench digging window was quite small. Thankfully, being the arrogant arsehole that he is, he knocked off work ridiculously early, after finishing only half the excavation (which doesn’t matter cos the half that he did is all that was needed for the trench digging and concrete pouring). So I got to start digging my trench at 2.30pm. Plenty of time, right!?

Oh my god I’m so bad at digging trenches! After half an hour I was dripping with sweat and had barely scratched the surface.

Progress after half an hour

Dad said he would come and rescue me after work (THANK GOD!) but I thought I’d inform the Facebook community of my troubles too. This was probably mostly to give me an excuse to have a break every 10 minutes to see how many likes I had. I put a call out to everyone on Facebook to come over with their shovels and crowbars and help! I got a few friendly rejections and distant advice/sympathy, but best of all, I got another rescuer! My cousin/neighbour (that’s right, I live next door to my cousin – it’s so cool!) came over in his work clothes (as in old clothes, not a suit) bearing a shovel and a smile (which went away soon after the digging started). Dad and Scott got a good rhythm going and were smashing this trench! I kept trying to get involved but kept getting kicked out of the hole. It would take me an hour to do what they would do in a single shovel load!

My Rescuers

All this so the electrician could plonk his cables in.


Thanks so much Dad and Scott! I would never have finished that trench on my own! Think I’ll leave the job of filling it back in to Adam!

Backyard Reno Problem #5

I fell in a hole.

It was hilarious.

No one saw it. Such a waste!


I’d just come back from my run and decided to water the lemon tree. There are numerous holes to navigate around and over to get to the hose. (They will eventually be filled with concrete to support our bluestone paving in the most elaborate concrete slab design you have ever seen!). I casually stepped over the hole you see below. I stepped onto some loose dirt and vaguely attempted to correct myself, before accepting my demise and allowing myself to fall into the one metre deep, 600mm wide hole. I’m pretty sure I started laughing on the way down. Such a waste that no one saw it! Got an annoying, ugly scab on my knee just in time for summer, but at least I also got a funny story out of it!


Backyard Reno Problem #4

I’m always sick! It’s been 6 and a half weeks since I’ve been 100%. I don’t know what kind of holiday my immune system thinks it’s on but I want it back!

Dad was going through a very slow restructuring process at work that meant for the first time ever he wasn’t busy. Dad likes being busy! He’s the kinda of person who can’t sit still. So Mum very cleverly suggested that he take some annual leave (crazy thought given that Dad has about 100 years of annual leave, long service leave and sick leave!). So he gave me a call to see if there were any jobs to do. (Cos he couldn’t possibly spend his annual leave relaxing!).

I’m picking on him, but I can’t really talk since at the time I had 400 hours of annual leave and I’ve only worked at this hospital for 3 years. Management were threatening to pay some of it out so I’d applied for a random week of leave in October and Dad coincided his leave with mine. We decided to replace the lovely, green corrugated iron on my neighbours shed wall with weatherboards. I went to two different Bunnings Warehouses to ask for advice and had two awful experiences, leading to my first ever swearing rant on Facebook which all my friends found particularly funny! I hate Bunnings so much but it’s so damn convenient! My uncle Gaz came over to show Dad and I what to do and I eventually sourced some weatherboards from De Mar Hardware, who were actually helpful.

Back to the topic: I woke up sick the day before my annual leave started. I went to work because it was too late to call in sick. Was given the most awful patient on the ward, along with 4 other patients (where previously they would only give whoever had this particular patient 2 other patients because he’s so much work). In my sensitive state I bent over backwards to try to please his every need to try to protect myself, where usually I’d lay down some ground rules about how I expected to be treated with a patient like that – I find they tend to respond well to that and respect you more. This bending over backwards technique meant I was constantly apologising to my 4 other patients and wishing I had more time for them. Eventually, my difficult patient did the inevitable and made me cry. It was pretty horrible actually. He wet his bed on purpose (he’s continent and had a bottle right next to him) and told me it was my fault for not being there all the time. I tried to have a civil conversation with him about it but he just said he didn’t care and it was my fault. It’s important to note that he wasn’t confused, and he wasn’t acutely ill. He’d been in hospital for over a month and was just a horrible person who got a kick out of watching nurses cry. It’s also important to note that management had just put a memo out about him that his family had been complaining about the nursing staff and that we had to “do better”. (Thanks management for yet again assuming that we’re lazy and shit rather than actually finding out what’s going on). Had I been feeling well I probably would have survived the 12 hours shift without crying. Thankfully, that morning, I arranged to do a short shift on account of my cold, so I only had another 4 hours with him after that. Then annual leave!

Goodness, so much for getting back on topic! Long story short, I got sick just before annual leave (ironic!). The mornings of weatherboarding were pretty tough but once I pushed through I felt heaps better. On the first morning I actually had to leave for a bit to have a quick vomit. I always vomit when I’ve got a bad cold. It’s weird! But we put on music, talked to the plumber who was digging our trench to bypass the sewer pipe, talked to each other. It actually made annual leave with a cold feel ok cos it took my mind off feeling sick.

The next week I got worse. It was at the point where I’d spend half the night standing over the bathroom sink because I was coughing up so much crap. My annual leave was over and it was time to go back to work so I went to the doctor. She gave me antibiotics and pulmicort which made me feel better straight away. Two weekends later, I still had my cough but I didn’t feel sick anymore. So I went camping/hiking. We went to Cape Otway National Park and set up camp and went for day walks on the Saturday and Sunday. It was really good. I’d never really done the camping/hiking system. It’s nice to come back from a long walk (we did 18km on Sat and 15km on Sun which, with only a day pack on, is a walk in the park!) and have a nice cold beer and a seat and all the luxuries of camping. Came home on Sunday night and, you guessed it, got sick again. I started getting better a week and a half later, but still had the scratchy throat and an occasional cough. But I felt pretty fine. Then, on Monday night (two nights ago) I got sick again! Unbelievable! Now I’m back to the whole coughing up green stuff, sore throat, headache, blocked ears.. So over it! What is wrong with my immune system?? I’ve even been popping the zinc and vitamin c tablets! And I’d just started running again and now this is going to set me back. I’m meant to be working night shift tonight but I’ve called in sick. Come on body, harden up!

So, while I’ve called this Backyard Reno Problem #4, I pushed through and the weatherboards are done so it’s really backyard reno inconvenience. Now to wait for the ridiculously unreliable landscapers to pour the slab for the blue stone paving so we can paint the weatherboards! At the moment there are holes everywhere in our backyard which will make any work with ladders rather challenging. Because they’re so unreliable, it’s actually been over 6 weeks now since we put up the weatherboards and they’re meant to be painted within 6 weeks. The excavation for the slab should’ve taken a few days, not 6 weeks! Can you guess what the topic of Shed Problem #5 will be??

Anyway, here’s a before and after of our amazing weatherboard wall. I’ll give it a proper wrap once I’ve painted it.

Before: a lovely mix of rusty green corrugated iron and rotten dirty white weatherboards.


After (once again I lost all my good weatherboard photos but I know Dad took some that I can pinch)


Backyard Reno Problem #3

Now for a big problem. This problem cost us almost $3K. We failed the building inspection. The concrete circle you see in the photo below is a one metre deep pier for which our garage will sit on. Directly below this pier is our sewer pipe! How this happened I still don’t know. Adam contacted City West Water and also dial before you dig before the pier was poured. But it happened, so we excepted it and dealt with it.


My uncle is a builder and had put my Dad onto an awesome plumber years ago. It’s nice having tradies you trust! So we gave Barry (BAZZA!) from Wizard Plumbing a call and he solved all our problems. Well, all of problem 2 and 3! He came over within a few days of our phone call with fellow wizard plumber, Adin, and diverted our sewer pipe. Sounds easy? Not so much when you’ve gotta dig a metre deep through solid clay by hand! Adin finished this and the new sewer inspection pipe and vent in two days. He worked bloody hard too. He absolutely powered through that clay. Dad and I were weatherboarding the wall of the shed next door so we all kept each other company. Except Dad and I were in the shade doing comparatively fun work, while Adin was dripping away with his crow bar and his shovel in the full sun on 30 degree days.


Just as he was about to finish, Adin got a call from Barry saying that City West Water may want to test the pipe if they do their inspection. The system is that a half hour window is set where the plumber has to be on site and City West Water have a one in 10 chance of turning up to do the inspection. So everything has to be perfect in case they do turn up, because if it’s not perfect and they turn up they’ll give you a black mark and make your life difficult. At this point, Adin had just laid the pipe and loosely covered it with crushed rock. He then had to cut the pipe to add inspection points JUST IN CASE City West Water wanted to turn up and test it. Which is ridiculous because it’s a brand new PVC pipe! If there was going to be a leak anywhere, it would be in the 130 year old clay pipe that we’d just joined our brand new pipe to! But rules and rules so it had to be done. And of course, they didn’t show for the inspection.

I had heaps more photos of this on my phone, including one of me standing in the trench so you could really see how deep it was but my phone had a problem and needed a factory reset and despite backing everything up I somehow lost my photos. Shattering! 😦 Luckily, Adam had a few snaps too.

Backyard Reno Problem #1

Several problems have cropped up during the planning and building of this shed. Some are the boring council-being-very-unhelpful-and-making-you-get-SIX(yes, six)-separate-permits-to-build-a-smaller-garage-than-what-was-originally-there-and-despite-every-other-house-in-the-laneway-having-a-double-garage-or-bigger kind of problems, which I won’t bother talking about. I will mention some of the more interesting problems over a series of posts though. So, get ready for some frustration!

I mentioned in a previous post entitled Moving Vegetable Boxes about how we gained a little extra space with our new fence and wall so Adam moved the vegetable boxed back to optimise that space. And he made them PERFECT. Cut to Shed Problem #1: The excavator bumped the front box right off line.

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Not Perfect

Ahh, so annoying! Adam debated whether he could jack it up to fix it, but it needed to be tilted and turned and we didn’t want to risk breaking it. So the best way to fix it was to empty it and realign it again. So, that would mean each box has been emptied and realigned twice in the last month or so! (The first reason for this is explained in the previous vegie box moving post).


Adam’s determined face.

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Better add in an action shot. Sorry that he took his top off. A hot, sweaty, dirty, shirtless Adam is not heaps blog appropriate. That’s why I only put in two photos. And made them big ;).

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Look what sprouted up the other day: A tomato seedling! It survived the soil being shoveled in and out of this box twice and managed to self sow itself right on the very edge of the box! Good work little guy!