One thing that came with our house was a really small side yard. A space about 5 feet across that is a “buffer” between our house and our neighbor’s property line. Useless space in most cases. But my wife had a dream…a dream of an Alice garden occupying this space. That’s a garden with an Alice in Wonderland theme. So for her birthday I decided that I’d fulfill her wish.
For this Alice Garden, we needed to start with a base…the base being checker boarded paving stones…alternating white and red. That would fill the main area of the side yard. There was also this smaller little “cubby” part that continued to the end of the wall. For that our plan was to lay gravel…two types. White for the edges, and then a path of river rock, ending in a little door. We measured the space, found that we could do 4 blocks wide and 13 blocks long…and a little line of red stones off to the side. So off to Home Depot we went. After we bought the basics, we drove them home (the car almost a low rider due to the weight) and set to work.
It started out like this…which as you can see, isn’t much. You can see why most would consider this a useless space. Small, over grown….littered with bits of gravel and pieces of junk metal. Like some bad back alley. I had my work cut out for me.
So I donned my work gloves, grabbed our little red wagon, and started by pulling weeds and grabbing the larger pieces of wood and rocks.
I then used a shovel to till the ground and start leveling it out. I unearthed all sorts of crap….chicken wire…chicken wire embedded in cement…old crumbly cement, a few dozen rusty nails….all sorts of broken toys, tin cans, lids, broken light bulbs, batteries, and other random things. I grabbed our wide tooth metal rake to smooth out the dirt, and comb out any more large debris…which there was a lot of. More than a few wagon loads.
This is just a bit of the progress I made. When I dug out the last bit of the “cubby,” I uncovered large chunks of cement, and had to pull out many small trees and shrubs that had deep roots, because they were never removed, just constantly trimmed back.
OK…once I pulled out all of that stuff, I had a pretty nice area to work with.
OK, time to start laying down the blocks:
I had to constantly shift dirt around….push some away, add some in other spots, in order to make the blocks all even.
There…the main blocks are all laid in. Whew…that took a lot of effort and concentration. A lot LONGER and harder than it was for you to look at that last picture, read this, and look at the next one.
Now I was exhausted…I needed to take a rest. So my wife and kids took over. Sam and Justice laid in the longer blocks on the side, and finished up the paved area.
Then came the gravel…all the girls helped with that.
Can’t forget the White Rabbit…
Add a small bistro set…
And violá! The Alice Garden is complete!
In just a couple days, and a lot of work, we converted useless space into a functional, and darn pretty, place to hang out. All for under $200.