Since Backyard Carnival in late July I haven’t had any big projects on the go in the backyard. Instead I’ve been focusing on putting some small finishes to other projects and having a good old tidy up.
The Shed In August I finally got around to tidying the shed! If you saw this old pic-post you’ll know the shed was in a very bad state. Over a couple of days I emptied and reorganised, even Blue Petering some empty bottles into tool storage. I have to say this was one of the most cathartic jobs I’d done in a while – and one I’d been putting off for almost a year! Going in the shed is now much more enjoyable and has a sense of satisfaction. I wonder if I can keep it tidy this time…
In late Autust I gave the fence panels a makeover with some Ronseal fence treatment. Then in early September I painted Wood Store #2 (gallery), then the bike shed (gallery) and Wood Store #1 (gallery).
Like tidying the shed these minor jobs brought big aesthetic changes and breathed some much needed fresh air into the garden.
After procrastinating for quite some time on the subject of the duck coop surround I eventually opted to lay some decorative bark. I had initially wanted to pave around the coop but this would have been more costly and time consuming than I could manage, so I bought the bark and the results were surprisingly pleasing. I’m not sure paving would have looked half as nice now the bark is down!
I also finished painting the duck house and coop (a job I started months ago!) and again the results are both pleasing and satisfying. (Gallery)
One of my main reasons for trying to tie up these loose ends and make the garden that bit more respectable is Bonfire Night (Guy Fawkes Night). Here we host a big party for Bonfire Night (or Bommy Neet as we say in this part of the world) and each year as summer begins to wane my focus shifts on hosting this party.
With that in mind I finally installed some better garden lighting. I replaced my single, harsh floodlight with several soft bulkheads that make for a much nicer ambience. The picture here is of the garden entrance where previously visitors would have been dazzled with a 500w floodlight pointing directly at them!
The sun came out today, nicely coinciding with the first day of my week off work, so I’ve been out and chopped the last pieces of scrap wood and had a bit of a tidy up.
It’s so refreshing to have all that open space back! Navigating this area had become so difficult; at it’s worst there was just a narrow path meandering through pallet mountains! With all this space I can once again work comfortably – and safely!
I still have a wheelbarrow and dumpy bag (each full of builder’s sand) in this area but there’s not a lot I can do about that until the time comes to use it (which would require a project to use it on).
As a bonus I also had time to give the lawn its first haircut of the year. Happy days! 🙂
I still haven’t got any ear defenders which means no power sawing for now. As a result, Stage 1 of reclaiming the backyard is incomplete, but, that said, it is very near completion and looks so much better than it did a week or so ago.
As you can see, most of the pallets and pieces of scrap wood have disappeared whilst my wood store has filled, but not all the wood has been chopped for the wood store. On my last delivery of wood late last year there was so much that I had to store some at the top of the garden and this became a sort of “good wood” repository (at least that’s what I told myself, though on inspection the goodness of some of the wood can be called into question) and it’s been added to ever since. Very quickly this area became a disaster zone!
The task at hand now is to properly organise this mess, including de-nailing all the loose pieces of wood (of which there are many) so that I can recycle it all into something useful, like that dog pen my neighbour asked me to make so long ago! The pallets here are in very good condition and will be the backbone to many structures I have planned, like a coal bunker, a tool shed, and stalls for the Backyard Carnival, as well as some vertical herb gardens I’d like to make.
The loose pieces will first contribute to my neighbour’s dog pen before being used in the other projects I have planned, like small box planters and carnival games. It’s a mammoth task, maybe even bigger than stage 1, and I’m not looking forward to it one bit, but the light at the end of the tunnel is that at some point I will have a tidy and organised backyard, and, more importantly, I’ll have lots of organised wood to make things!
It would be nice if that was a metaphorical reference to how the pile of wood and pallets has disappeared at the hands of my new mitre saw and how this part of the backyard has been restored to picturesque serenity; unfortunately it’s a literal reference to said mitre saw and how it met it’s untimely end.
I’ve been using the saw for an hour or so each day, making short work of the pallet pile (or mountain, as it seemed to be at its worst) until late yesterday afternoon when, eight days after I purchased it, it emitted a shower of sparks from the engine and died. Noooooooooo!!
Dad to the rescue
I returned it to Lidl (feel free to question my judgment in buying power tools from a discount supermarket – I certainly have) and took my money elsewhere. Unfortunately every similarly priced saw in Wigan was out of stock at reputable DIY stores so the reclamation slowed until my dad brought me one from B&Q in Bolton today on his weekly visit.
Hopefully this one will last a bit longer! It does feel like a better build quality than the original so fingers crossed. Unfortunately though I’ve not hit my target of reclaiming the backyard within the week so I’ll have to keep going at it. With any luck I will be done very soon because I’m eager to get on with other projects. I’m conscious of the fact that a few weeks have gone by since I promised my neighbour a pallet fence. She will think I’ve forgotten about her! 😀
Filling the wood store
As you can see, in the last couple of days I’ve made some modifications to the pallet wood store, namely fixing some slats to the fascia of bays 1 and 2 (kindling and small scrap respectively) to keep the scrap wood I’ve been chopping during the reclamation from falling out. With this done the intention was to get the remainder of the wood cut or sorted for use, but I only got about an hour’s use out of the ill-fated saw before it went kaput. I’ve almost filled bay 2 though, and the kindling bay is looking healthy but there’s still a bit more to do. I’ll need to make a similar modification to bay 3 (medium to large scrap) before I can fill that, which I’m hoping will be very soon indeed!
In the beginning my Backyard DIY projects were completed on the back of fortuitous encounters with roadside pallets or a generous resident of an industrial estate, but over time I was able to acquire more pallets than I knew what to with, as well as developing a keen eye for other roadside goodies.
By the time I decided to start a blog I had already completed a handful of projects and had been slowly transforming our outside space, little at a time. With that in mind I thought it might be useful for me to take stock here, to look back at beginnings and see how I got to be the owner of a yardful of pallets.
A new fence
It’s an interesting plot of land, this. An ‘L’ shape but a great size, it could be the perfect family garden, with space for the kids to run about and for the adults to burn food on a BBQ watching them play. Could be.
Around every corner lurks a problem though. For a couple of years I’d resolve the problems of one corner by transporting them, piece of rubble by piece of rubble, to another corner. It’s ok, it’s behind the shed, out of sight out of mind. And look, we have a newly transformed corner (until the next round of musical chairs – and by chairs I mean rubble).
More in store
Then, around a year ago, I built (and I use the term loosely) a wood store mostly from pallets. That was it, I’d got the bug. Not only did it look pretty good – not great but ok for a first attempt – but it was functional too. I loaded it with logs and scrap wood and stood there in the rain watching my wood not get wet. Amazing!
The cycle continues
Shortly after, a bike shed made an appearance at the end of the wood store. I’d been traveling to an appointment at work and had spotted a small bed frame at the side of the road. I jumped out of my car and threw it in the boot, then later when I got home I threw up a bed frame bike shed.
Again, it might not be worthy of much praise but it was an improvement on the wood store. I was muddling along, learning, and things weren’t falling down. I considered that an achievement. And once again, I’d created something functional. I didn’t spend quite as long standing in the rain watching things not getting wet, but I knew it was happening.
In the meantime I worked on shaping the lawn ready for some shrubs and decorative trees (lots of digging, grr!), transforming the play area into ‘The Park’ (I have big plans for this thanks to Pinterest) and introducing some hanging baskets because they’re just so pretty!
The Pallets Are Coming
Late last year after happening upon a source of pallets that didn’t just provide me with a handful of them every now and then but with a truck load (delivered, to boot) I could finally start letting my imagination (by which I mean Pinterest) run wild.
The trouble was, I was getting too many pallets! Or rather, it was winter and my motivation could be tracked along with the mercury. They arrived, and they piled up. One day when I found myself unable to safely access the garden I started an impromptu clear up. This involved moving pallets from one side of the backyard to the other (I’m good at that sort of thing), and at some point in the process I decided to build another wood store. I’d be killing two birds with one stone: I’d use up some pallets building the wood store and could chop the rest up and place them in the wood store. Pallet overload solved. Probably.
I’ll not lie, I’m proud of this wood store. Three bays for kindling, scrap and logs; solid as a rock. It could almost be store bought. Ok, maybe not, but the process of muddling and learning really is starting to take effect and I’ve finally built something that looked very much like I envisioned it. Without delay it was time to move on to projects new.
For my next project I wanted to replace my woven compost bags with a tumbler. I’d seen a few ideas on the web and thought I could fashion one out of an industrial cable reel or two. So, one Saturday morning I drove to an industrial estate and within a few minutes I’d found two discarded cable reels. Within a few hours I’d modified them into one compost tumbler.
And that’s where we are. Actually tumbling the compost tumbler has had me scratching my head somewhat over the last few weeks, and I’ve gone through a couple of design drafts with more than a little frustration. Originally I had planned to mount it on a scaffold pole and spin it like a big, organic tombola. Then I planned to mount it on rollerblade wheel “feet”. Both ideas have their issues. (I realise that by it’s very nature such a tumbler could be wheeled about but that isn’t really practical). As it stands I’m sticking with the rollerblade method and we’ll just have to wait and see. Maybe my next blog post will be my completed tumbler with ingenious rollerblade feet that work like a charm. Maybe not. Muddling, you see.
After a couple of years pottering around out back, knocking up the odd wood store, bike shed and box planter out of anything I could get my hands on, I thought it was about time to start tracking my progress and sharing my projects with a blog. So here we go!
As you can see I have access to a lot of pallets so a lot of my DIY is pallet-oriented, but I’ve come to appreciate that just about anything can be recycled into something useful, from milk bottles to beds, from used tyres to discarded plumbing.
My DIY projects are motivated by my needs as a gardener, homeowner, husband and father. The wood store you can see above is my second one to date and will be home to scrap wood and logs that will see us through cold winters and save us a few pennies in the process. Other projects have included a bike shed for the kids, box planters for my container allotment and a compost tumbler (coming soon!).
In the future I hope to make some cool additions to the kids’ play area, get my shed and tools organised (finally) with some nifty storage plans, and build my wife the summer house she’s always wanted (well I can dream!).