Monday, October 4, 2010

Knox Hill Project: weekly update

We had planned on painting but it was a little too cool (fall is here) so we elected to tackle a major project that has been 'laying around' from day one. I am referring to one of the stone caps that had been pulled off our wall years ago. Local neighborhood legend has it that 5-6 years ago the local "low life" scrap metal thieves , frustrated that they could not steal the last of the wrought iron fence, took a pick up truck and chain to the remaining section and in the process yanked the top cap of our stone wall off.

This created a erosion problem and there was about two feet of top soil around this cap on the street level flower bed. Our terracing and landscaping had resolved the erosion problem above,  but the problem was how to get this 8 foot, several hundred pound stone cap back into position. It was far too heavy for us to lift, even with help. Options were hire a stone mason and crew to come in ( hundreds of  dollars) or rent a forklift (hundreds of dollars) None of these seemed viable.

The solution? Cut the top cap in half so it would be a  more managable weight and could safely be tipped up on end and raised back into position. I bought a masonry saw blade , (three bucks at lowes), put it on my 7 1/4 inch saw and after taping the surface with tape (to avoid chipping) began cutting. I wasn't sure if would work but I didn't have too many options. Taking my time I started up the saw and the masonry blade cut through the stone surprisingly well. I made sure to cut the sides and top going down as far as I could with the blade. We then turned the stone over with a pitch bar and I scored the other side with a 1 inch deep score. The weight of the stone neatly snapped it perfectly! With help of our neighbor Mark and a friend we were able to get both pieces back in place. I will take stone chisel and carefully "age the fresh edge to look like the old then eventually mortar the joint with a soft lime mortar and tuckpoint the joints.

We then had to dig up the front bed moving all the top soil off and back up the hill which we are terracing. We got that cleared our and leveled.

The next thing was some 'starter plants' Lowes has a 50 percent off sale on already discounted bushes. We added some 2 Barberry and 2 box Yews (85 dollars of plants for 8 Bucks)!  This ground is mostly clay and it took some time to get new holes dug, augment the soil and get them in. We then added some mulch. We will be adding a few hundred bulbs in this area next weekend but cost so far, of the saw blade, plants and mulch was a little over seventeen dollars.  Fall is a great time to get larger bushes and plants and they will be well established in spring. We still have to repair the corners and put in new steps but it looks a world better!

2 comments:

Karen Anne said...

It looks great, but you may regret the barberries. They have wicked thorns. We kids were always getting pronged by ours, and my Dad finally dug it out.

Paul Wilham said...

The barberries are a short term 'loitering deterent" I find they work well to keep people off things like walls. I am trying to train the local kids that our wall is not a hangout.

Eventually we will be adding tinted to match the wall,concrete balusters and a top cap for greater privacy and security. But in the short term its an excellent use!