Thursday, September 28, 2006

Making The Grade

The bushes I removed a week and a half ago were causing more problems than I realized. Admittedly, I have a scorched earth policy when it comes to plants growing right up against the house. It’s just not good for the house or the foundation. Here is the bush, in case you’ve forgotten what it looked like.

What I discovered once I removed it was that it was two bushes and they were both growing from under the house. Now very far under, but far enough that the base of the bush was pushing off the skirting. It looked like someone had already trimmed the bottom few inches of the skirting due to rotting. That only seemed to give the bush more room to grow, and grow it did.

Also I found out the grade had been changed by the bush and the ground that was under the bush now sloped towards the house. Over the years as leaves and flowers dropped they would compost and raise the ground. At least this is my working theory. There was a distinct ridge where the perimeter of the bush used to be that was now higher than any point along the side of the house. Everything on the house side was lower. I needed to change this. Here’s the view just after I removed the bush.

I dug up all the ground in the area and found all sorts of weird shit in the process. There was a plastic dinosaur, 2 sets of car keys, a pager, a rubiks cube, some art supplies, a globe to a patio light, and all sorts of garbage. Oh, and the cats had added their own home-made fertilizer to the mix over the past week. Thanks guys!

I then set about changing the grade so it sloped away from the house. After that I added some grass seed and watered the whole thing. I’m sure the cats will be fertilizing it in no time. Here’s what it looks like right now.

I still can’t figure out how to get those two root balls out without removing the skirting or destroying it in the process. I'm still spraying them with Round Up and the hope is they will decay to the point that I can break them apart. Maybe next year. At this point, I’ll just be happy if they don’t sprout again.

You can also see I’m missing some foundation vents. Below is a picture of the last remaining original one left of the house from 1895. I’ve been searching Ebay and local shops for replacements. This side of the house faces the street so I want to get a matching pair that I can paint a contrasting color to the skirting. So far I haven’t found a set that are the right size. I think I need a minimum of 12 X 9 inches.


Tex MacRae said...

It's not really necessary to get the rootball out, is it? We had a bunch of yews overgrowing the front porch area at our house and we just hacked the stumps down below ground level. Two of them are still in place, but I whacked them down to a fourth their overgrown size and I go out and threaten them with the sawzall now and then to keep them small.

Greg said...

Yea, I guess you're right. That is pretty much what I did with the small tree I took out a few weeks back. I just can't get at these things right now. They are both in direct contact with the beadboard skirting. A few wrong swings with an axe and ....oops!

They are on the back burner for now.

Trissa said...

What an odd collection of stuff to find. Bummer there wasn't something really cool, or worth a lot. I like the foundation vent- keep your eye out & you'll hopefully find some more soon!

Angus said...

I've always wondered with missing metal 'part's whether it's not feasible to reproduce them oneself. Especially with flatish pieces like that vent. Theoretically it'd be possible to even cast them oneself with iron, but even simpler would be with tin or aluminum.

Yeah, it's just one morething to work on, and probably not worth it if you can find existing pieces somewhere, but ... just something I've always considered.
Fine wet sand + a crucible to melt the metal (well Aluminum or tin anyway) + a blow torch.

Though of course there must be places where you can get it done.

Angus said...

Actually (as an ex-art student) a local art school often has equipment to do that, and are often willing to help the occasional person ot, so long as it doesn't become well known.

Greg said...

Someone else emailed me about maybe having reproductions made based on the one I had. It’s funny that I never thought of that. If something is wood, I automatically think to reproduce it myself, or have someone local do it. I don’t think about metal that way. I’ll have to research it a bit.

purejuice said...

round up really makes me nervous. if the stumps really bother you, perhaps a professional tree stump remover could deal with them?

doug K said...

The vent looks like the top of a register (without the movable louvers). You can see the slot(s) in the ends where the louver-moving lever was (were?). Here in Portland, Rejuvenation usually has a lot of different old registers, and this might be one of them. But then, since this seems sort of an ad-hoc solution anyway, I think it would be perfectly in keeping with the spirit of the house to use whatever similar age registers you can find, even if the patterns don't match.

Greg said...

There is no question these were, or rather, could also have been used as heat register vents. I don't think this was so much an ad-hoc solution, though. At least in my area, this is just the way it was done. Using these cast iron register grates for foundation vents was very common place.

Ebay regularly has 2 or 3 pages of these up for auction at any given time. I’ve got my eye on a matching pair right now.