You know that expression “The cobbler’s children have no shoes”? Right. That’s my house for the most part, because I’m renovating other people’s homes and don’t take the time to work on my own.
This spring Heather and I decided to tackle the backyard in a big way—adding an in-ground pool, pool house, paths and 700 sq feet of garden.
It’s not just anybody driving a backhoe who can dig a pool hole. Pool excavators are specialists. After interviewing several, we hired Harvey Harper of Harper Enterprises. He and his team were excellent. Precise to the inch and a pleasure to deal with. I can’t recommend them enough.
We ordered the pool parts from Mermaid Pools and I’m installing the pool myself—bringing in specialists as needed: for the dig, grouting (concrete base), installing the liner and the electrical. I have zero ambition to start installing pools, but doing it myself at my own house was a considerable cost saving.
The pool house has walls on two sides (where there are neighbours) and is open to the pool and yard on the other two sides. It will have electrical outlets plus lights, a fridge and a fan. We’ve also ordered composite wood cabinets that are rated for Canadian garage use.
Yoda, our 12-year-old rescue dog, had a tough time with the early (and loud) stages of this project. She was seized from an abusive situation when she was 10 and we adopted her a few months later. She tends to be anxious to begin with. Big machines digging and making deliveries, changes to her space (it is her bathroom after all), and strangers coming to the house were all hard on her. We finally had a quiet day in the backyard, which seemed to help her adjust. Nothing like a good nap to make things right again.
See that garden below in the background? That’s the temporary bed. Heather moved two yards of fresh soil and all of the backyard plants in the early spring to protect them during the renovation. This was the only spot that would not be trampled by machines and wheelbarrows.
Our recently retired stone mason neighbour is winning an international award for his work on the new Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health. We are beyond grateful that he so generously helped with the final tricky cuts around the pool.
The awesome neighbours are just one of the many reasons we plan to live here forever (pool and big garden are no-nos for house resale). The neighbours are friendly and kind people.
The stone is Blu 45 from Techo-Bloc. We ordered the stone through Central Precast, which was endlessly frustrating—from Central Precast losing our order, to finding our order, to sending the wrong order, and more. Enough about that.
We put in 700 square feet of new garden beds and wanted year-round interest, so chose several evergreen trees and shrubs. The staff at the Green Thumb Garden Centre at 17 Tristan Crt (near Hunt Club and Merivale) are fantastic. Mary, the owner, and some of her staff are Master Gardeners (yes, that’s a thing) and are extremely knowledgeable.
The cedars along the properly line were badly overgrown after years of neglect by previous home owners. The cedars were six feet deep from the trunk, so they got a serious haircut. We understand that the cedars will never grow back on our side, but it was well worth it to reclaim six feet of yard for the garden.
Thanks to a mature maple overhead, this garden next to the pool house gets morning sun at the front and full sun at the back. The maple also provides ample shade to the pool.
That was my progress in 2015. In 2016 the work started anew with the plans including a shed, deck railing, and painting and staining everything.