Alternative title: Adventures in renovation land with a delicious recipe at the end.
We took on a large scale yard project this weekend. Maybe a little too large? But it was something that had to get done.
Imagine a flagstone patio that is 11 feet deep by 30 feet wide (the width of our house). Then imagine that this surface slopes down a couple inches in the direction of your house and slopes up towards the yard. Then imagine a huge rain storm and where that water goes. Are you with me?
It goes through your foundation.
I would love to have a nice little discussion with the previous owners who had this shoddy patio installed. It’s unbelievable how poorly it was done.
So if you can imagine, we had to lower the side that goes into the yard so it slopes down and away from the house. This means we had to dig deep. For some unknown reason we thought it could be done with shovels.
2 hours later we rented a dingo.
12 hours later we had about 12 tons of dirt to deal with. I’m not joking.
Are you having a panic attack yet? I am.
Luckily, we have generous and amazing friends who were there to help. I wasn’t able to help much with the labor because at this point it was a 3-person job. So then my goal became: keep these boys fed, make sure they have beer, make Home Depot runs, and post ads on Craigslist hoping people would come pick up the dirt.
We were able to offload about 1/2 of the dirt. Craigslist is an amazing thing. And now we’re using a service called Bagster to help haul the rest away. Oh, how I wish Bagster was sponsoring this post.Kidding. Maybe.
The boys worked past sunset after I purchased a few flood lights. They finally finished excavating around 10pm on Saturday. Sunday started bright + early filling the patio area with structural backfill [basically broken concrete] and then tamping it down with a gas powered tamper that shook the whole house.
Oh, did I forget to mention when we thought we smashed the clay sewer line?
Panic attack #2.
Luckily, it was just broken pieces of old clay pipe.
And then the sprinkler electrical line was accidentally cut through with a shovel. It had 14 electrical lines running through it. Chris got that fixed and then it was time to start leveling. Even with 2 civil engineers, a landscape architect, and a mathematician it was an undertaking.
By the end of Sunday a few of the flagstone pieces were set into place, but it’s an extremely tedious process. Thankfully, Chris numbered each stone with chalk and took a ton of photos so we could place each one back in the correct spot.
Now, the end of the patio sits a good 6 inches below the top of the ground. And this is where project #2 comes in. The water can’t just pool at the end of the patio below the ground line. We now have to dig out a 30 foot long by 5 feet wide by 8 inch deep area for the water to drain.
Did I mention the [mostly dead] tree that has to be cut down?
I think I’ll stop there. It’s Monday and this just got a little too intense.
But if you live in Denver and know of a good landscaping company, please let me know!
And now, we eat.
Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad
gluten-free, vegan // yields 3-4 large servings, or 6-8 side-dish servings
cauliflower + chickpeas:
- 1 large head cauliflower
- 2 1/2 cups chickpeas, rinsed + drained
- 1 1/2 tablespoons high-heat cooking oil
- 3 tablespoons thinly sliced shallot
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 3/4 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes, not oil packed
- 1/3 cup sliced kalamata olives
- 5oz mixed baby greens
- fresh thyme or oregano
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cashew butter, or almond butter
- 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
- salt + pepper
Preheat your oven to 400° F.
Chop cauliflower into 1-2 bite pieces and place on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast for about 30 minutes, turning once halfway through, until tender and starting to brown.
At the same time, place chickpeas on another large baking sheet and toss with 1/2 teaspoons oil, salt, and pepper. Roast chickpeas for about 20-25 minutes, turning once halfway through. They should be starting to split open and crisp a bit. Turn oven down to 350° F. Add the garlic and shallot and toss together with another drizzle of oil. Roast until the garlic and shallot are just starting to turn golden brown, about 6-8 minutes. Stir a few times and watch closely so it doesn’t burn. Add the olives and sun-dried tomatoes in the last 2-3 minutes to warm.
While roasting, place all dressing ingredients with about 1/4 teaspoon salt + pepper in a jar or sealable container and shake until fully combined. Set aside and shake before pouring. Store excess sealed in the fridge.
Remove both pans from the oven and toss together on one pan. Toss with desired amount of dressing. Taste, and add more salt + pepper if needed. Place mixed greens on a large platter and top with roasted salad. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme. Serve extra dressing on the side.
Thanks for listening to my weekend yard rant. If you like landscaping and live in Denver we have extra shovels.