The Traveling Steve's

Spring landscaping at home: First up The Pavers and Shrubbery Removal!

It’s now Tuesday, May 19th, and Steve (DOS) and I are continuing with some major landscaping and other updates done on the house. Now that we are both retired, and (thanks to the coronavirus) we are both home all the time, we are now able to get many home projects done which we couldn’t when we were both working and traveling each week. I’m still in my neck brace for who knows how long, but DOS has been taking great care of me.

We have hired several different contractors, based on referrals from our neighbors, and so far all have been excellent. At first we just wanted the pool pavers resealed, sanded, and leveled in a couple areas. But as we examined our retaining wall behind the pool, we realized we needed that rebuilt as well. As we saw how nice the work was progressing, we added a few more things to the improvement list. One project quickly led to another, which led to another, when led to another, an so on! As I write this, we’ve had 4 different contractors work on our property outside, with another two lined up to re-screen the pool and test the pool for leakage.

Plus indoors we’ve had a plumber install a new garbage disposal and who would have installed our new dishwasher, if it hadn’t been damaged in shipment.

The new dishwasher is now set to arrive on Saturday May 23. Meanwhile the first delivery crew took our existing dishwasher away, but left the new and damaged dishwasher in our garage. So we have a empty four foot hole in our kitchen, and wash dishes the old-fashioned way – by hand!

It’s funny, but our dish rack reminds me of the Sydney Opera House cartoon being shared on Facebook and other social media! LOL!

In short, a project of some sorts is happening every day at home during this Covid-19 crisis – never a dull moment!

We used Klein Pavers for the pool paver sealing, building the retainer wall and adding the paver sidewalk to the driveway from the pool area. Klein also removed the bushes in the area where they installed pavers, and trimmed our tall palm tree by the pool. The pool resealing and retaining wall was the first and a major step of our outdoor remodeling project.

We also used The Best Choice Landscapers to remove the bulk of the shrubs on our property and landscape it for us in its entirety. Here are a couple photos of the house before any shrub work was done; note the huge bushes out front and on the side yard.

So the work begins . . . Chris Klein and his team first moved all of the patio furniture off the pool deck and onto the side lawn. The tall bushes behind DOS will be removed soon, as pictured later in this post.

Unfortunately having the pool sealed spelled the end of our beloved and hand built Tiki Bar! We actually had two, but this was the first one DOS and I built from scratch some 12 years ago, and they had to disassemble it to get it out the pool cage doors so they could clean the deck area.

Likewise the second Tiki Bar, which was already assembled when we bought it, had to be de-assembled, and as it was a bit weathered as well, we placed it out front with the trash.

We also had Christmas lights and greenery adoring the outdoor pool support poles, a Christmas tree, and Christmas Nutcracker, which were all a bit weathered and had to go as well.

RIP to our Tiki Bars, and Christmas tree, lights and Nutcracker! LOL!

The pool resealing was actually done last as the retaining wall and sidewalk pavers needed to be installed first, followed by the shrub and tree work. The large retaining wall was rebuilt and enlarged behind the pool, as the previous one had literally tumbled over time like the fall of Rome! The retaining wall was also extended over to each side of the pool, and a flower garden was added to each side as well.

Chris’s paver team then trimmed this huge palm tree that I had planted 22 years ago when I moved in, not realizing it would grow over 30 feet tall! I wish I had a photo of that young double palm tree when I planted it; it must have been three feet tall back then, as were the rest of the shrubs next to it. Here is a photo of the palm tree before trimming, and the tall bushes next to it which blocked the view from the pool, prior to their removal.

This photo below shows the tree being trimmed via the tall ladder. You can’t tell from the first photo, but it’s actually a double palm tree with two long trunks, which you can see better after it has been trimmed.

When I moved in my house 22 years ago, I had planted several small Viburnum shrubs by the pool, and another row along the property line in (lieu of a fence) for some pool-side privacy. One thing I didn’t realize when I moved to Florida is how fast everything grows! The sunny state of Florida is actually the very rain state of Florida in the summer months, with nearly daily thunderstorms and buckets of rain! Steve (DOS) and I both traveled for years in our jobs, so didn’t notice the day to day, week to week, month to month “Jack and the Beanstalk-like” growth that was happening at the house over time. Nor did we realize the massive cleanup it would take to remove it all!

We were originally just going to ‘patch’ the left-side yard bushes, but we ended up removing (and later replacing) these bushes as well. The bushes had gotten so big and unshapely, with a couple different types of bushes intermixed, that it needed a re-do. Since the bushes align my next door neighbor Harry’s yard (shown below to the left), I asked him if we could remove these shrubs and place them with a more compact and attractive shrub, which he happily agreed too.

And if that wasn’t enough, we also had the shrubs lining the entire front of the house removed as well. While I didn’t plant those, even with the regular pruning, they had grown very wide and ‘leggy; in places, showing their age.

When Chris and team started removing all the shrubs and trimming the trees, the property and house looked like it had been in a hurricane! There was debris everywhere, and it took two trailer loads to remove all of the former shrubbery!

DOS and I were both astonished how quickly the guys cleared and removed the shrubbery, and for the first time in over 20 years, the front and side yards of the house looked ‘naked’!

Removing the bushes actually created another urgent problem/project for us, and that was having the house painted. Before the shrubs were removed it blocked much of the lower dirt spots around the house; now the house was exposed and very dirty! The guys did pressure wash the old dirt spots which helped some, but we both knew we had to have the house repainted as soon as possible. Add a painting project to the list!

After the bushes were removed, we had a paver sidewalk installed from the driveway to the pool area, where the old shrubbery had been. This was not only much more attractive and roomy than where the old bushes were, but quite practical as well.

They also installed pavers in the side yard alcove, which had previously been filled with overgrown plants and a palm tree. When the house was built, the outdoor area was supposed to be a garden area visible (and blocked providing privacy) for the indoor tub area adjacent to this. We are going to now use it for our outdoor excess furniture chairs, table, spare propane tanks etc, although we may put a potted palm in the area . Here is how the area looks now with pavers, while the walls will have to be painted along with the rest of the house.

Chris’s team finally ended the week with our original request – to have the pool pavers resealed. They first pressure washed and cleaned the deck. Later they re-sanded and replaced a couple of the pavers by the pool skimmer and border area that were not level. This was important as the draining had not been working well during heavy rains. And when everything was smooth and clean, the finished the pool area with the final sealant. When the guys were done with the work, the pool area surface looked brand new!

While we had gone way above what we had originally contracted to do with the pool resealing, we were glad that Chris’s company did the many extra services for us as well. The paver and tree/shrub removal work performed by Chris’s team was outstanding quality and now a couple of our neighbors want to use these guys as well. That’s the best kind of advertising for business – word of mouth and neighbor/friend referrals. Thanks Chris Klein Pavers and Team for such a great quality job. Here’s a selfie of DOS and myself, with Chris in the middle.

Next project up – gutter installation and house painting!

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