Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dog Run Part 1: A Post About Posts

It's been crazy here at the new house. Lots of unpacking (sadly yes, we're still partially in boxes), settling and more unpacking. We've been slow to tackle any big projects since we want to live in the house for a few months before deciding what it needs. One thing that HAD to be done, however, and that was a dog run for the pups. We had hoped it would take us 3, maybe 4 weekends max, but the project has stretched out to a grand total of 7 weekends over the course of two months. And we're still not done.

As I mentioned in my house introduction post, our yard is dirt. Just all dirt in all the places. You can imagine the dogs are really into this because every time we let them out into the yard, they end up something like:


You can maybe see how this was not really working for us. So we decided to turn the small patch of yard at the side of the house into a low-maintenance, snazzy-looking, fenced-in dog relief area as our first official HOUSE PROJECT.

Behold, the dog run:

My mom was in town to help us out that first weekend (no, I did not force my mom to do manual labor during her trip, she's just an awesome workhorse like that). We needed to slope the grade away from the house for drainage, which meant we would have to shave off about 3-5 inches of dirt from the whole area. Not only was this pretty backbreaking work, but it created a RIDICULOUS amount of dirt. I mean, seriously...where did all of it come from??

At some point, I made them pretend they weren't achy and sore to pose for a picture. Turns out Boyfriend is a pretty big ham when he's achy and sore.

Digging took the whole day, and it was starting to get dark by the time we were able to lay out some weed fabric. 

Despite the fact that it was getting really cold and we weren't shoveling tons of dirt to keep us warm, we still had more to do. We had ordered a bunch of river rocks, which had been delivered to our driveway, and we wanted to move it all to the back before it got stolen (seriously, I saw people eyeballing it as they passed by)(but maybe that's because it was a huge pile of rocks on a driveway)(but seriously, that stuff is expensive). An hour and several tons of rock later, we had this:

And then we wussed out and retreated inside to nice hot showers. Then we finished the next morning. Sadly, we didn't order enough rock to fill the area, so we'll need to fix that later. Or maybe someone really did steal that much rock. In any case, lesson learned: ALWAYS order more rock than you need, because it's pretty and you'll probably end up using it somewhere else. 

Setting the posts took place over about 3 weekends, mostly because of a lack of planning on our part, but also from a lack of proper tools. For instance, one post needed these anchored brackets, which required us to borrow an impact driver and a masonry bit to drill into the concrete (FYI, impact drivers are really hardcore and really freaky to use). Thanks to a coworker, we were able to get two of these babies in. 

Between these and the liberal amount of Liquid Nails we used, this post is pretty darn sturdy. 

Sticking it firmly to the stucco.

Securing the post to the brackets with some coated-screws.

Making sure everything is level!

Then we had to dig some holes for the other two posts. They make tools for this, which are called...wait for it..."post-hole-diggers". Yes, it is an incredibly specific tool that we will probably never use again, but that was very handy in digging one of our 1'9" holes. The first hole was easy (that's what she said):

The second one however, seemed to be composed mostly of clay/rock/sandstone and we ended up having to use a crowbar and a mallet to chip away at it until we reached the desired depth. We took turns. It was not fun. 

FINALLY we had our holes dug, and we were ready to put some posts in them, so we cut our 4x4 pressure-treated lumber to size, and waterproofed them with some asphalt emulsion, which I read somewhere is great for minimizing rot and decay from having wood constantly in contact with the ground.

Ready for some post-setting right? WRONG. Because we didn't plan ahead, we discovered that the emulsion needed 3-7 DAYS to dry completely. You probably saw that coming, but we didn't. Womp womp :(

Luckily because we're in blogland, we can fast-foward to the next weekend right about now. 

Hey it's post-setting day! We started out by stretching some string from the wall post to the property fence, making sure it was level. You'll see why in a bit. 

Here we've mixed a 60-lb bag of quick-dry concrete. We used this concrete calculator to figure out how much concrete we would need for two posts, and it said 3 bags (or 180 lbs). We only needed 90 lbs so...jury is still out on how useful the calculator was (jk, the verdict = not very).

Finally, posts in holes where they belong! Here you can see how we used the string to make sure all the posts were the same height and centered with each other. 

Don't forget to make sure they are level! Apparently this is also known as "plumbing".

With all the grunt work done, we finally had 3 sturdy posts ready for some fencing. To be continued...


  1. I applaud you for tackling an area for your pups first. Yard work is the very last thing I am planning to do in our humble abode because we're tangling with broken concrete everywhere. Looking forward to seeing part 2. :)

    1. I don't blame you at all. Landscaping is back-breaking work and so expensive! This will probably be all we do to the yard for a while.
      As always, I appreciate you stopping by :)