Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I Been Workin' on the Sidewalk

So, chronologically I'm a bit out of order but I really wanted to include this post for my own posterity's sake and since we're mostly just waiting for grass to grow right now any update about our yard project would be rather underwhelming.

Have you ever watched grass grow? I have.  ...or at least I hope I'm watching it grow.

As we already explained in this post we decided to excavate our slate walk. There were lots of non-pictorially documented reasons why. There was the fact that we wanted to raise the level of the yard, the fact that tree roots had caused elements of the walk to not be level, the fact that it was pointed toward the driveway we don't use, the general sloppiness and lack of skill it was originally installed with, and the crumbling edges, loose slate, and general disrepair of its current state. Strike that, EX-current state.

To start off, this project was made easier by the state of our walk. Existing cracks made it come apart easier and loose slate gave me plenty of space to pick-axe the concrete without damaging the slate itself. I started by pulling up all the loose slate. Then working my way from the end of the walk toward the house I just started picking away at it, mostly with the pick side of the pick-axe. This worked pretty well for the end because it was in pretty bad shape and didn't need much strategy. Some of it broke off in huge chunks and, rather than continuing to break it up with the pick I would just prop it up and then tip it over onto other pieces of concrete. Usually the force of the fall and the hardness of the other pieces was enough to break it into smaller pieces. When the slate pieces were lodged in really well I would pick the sides until it crumbled away and then apply leverage under the walk which usually caused the concrete to crack away from the slate. If that didn't work I just had to pick all the way around the slate until I could pop it free. I also used the leverage under the sidewalk to break it up after I had removed the slate as well.

The sidewalk was actually a large L shape and unfortunately the side part that extended toward the old driveway was in much better shape than the main part. I used the same techniques to remove as much slate as I could but it was much harder and I had to fight a lot more to get them out intact. After I had removed a sufficiently large enough section of slate I would take the pick-axe and start picking in a line across the sidewalk. Then I would go back over the line until I had kind of a dotted line across it. Then I would jam the axe (or technically maddox) side under the sidewalk under the line I had done and leverage it until it cracked along where I had picked. If it didn't crack I would pick at the line more until it worked. I had to do this in 1'-2' sections because anything more than that I couldn't move very well. If the section ended up a little big I would use the same method of propping it up and letting it fall over on another piece.

I basically just kept at it until I had demo'ed the whole thing that way. Sometimes I would work at it for a while and get a lot done. Other times I would take out a couple feet when I got home from work. The main length of sidewalk was 32' long with another 15' on the side portion. In total it ended up being a whopping 158 square feet of sidewalk.

After I was done I was left with quite a lot of slate and concrete rubble. I've spent a fair amount of time on Craigslist and I've always laughed at the listings that appear to be people attempting to get others to haul their junk away for them, but Meredith was reading in This Old House and they recommended using concrete rubble as filler for the bottoms of raised garden beds. So, we figured, heck, what's to lose. I posted it on craigslist and within the first day we had three people asking about it. Half of it was gone that night and the other half the next evening.

Note: Concrete rubble not shown.

The slate was a different story. On a weekend visit to The Great Big Greenhouse I saw pallets of slate about the same size as what we had going for around $300 so there was no way I wasn't going to make some money off that stuff. We listed it on Craigslist and sure enough we got some bites on that one as well. Several of them fell through before we actually caught one but finally someone showed up and I helped them load it into their truck.

While we were loading it up they asked about the cobblestones we had, which had previously been around the mulch beds around our trees, and I made them a deal on those as well. We had already talked about wanting to find a different solution for those so I was happy to not have to list those separately, or lug them around anymore.

So that's the story of how we got rid of our cracking, crumbling, pointing in the wrong direction sidewalk, AND made a pretty penny doing it! Anyone else have any fun Craigslist stories? Or advice on what to do while waiting for grass to grow? Seriously, we're just twiddling our thumbs here.

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