First, I’m truly terrible at taking ‘before’ pictures – so you’ll have to use your imagination a bit. Sorry.
The following projects all competed for the moderate influx of cash that tax return season usually brings:
- rebuilding the chimney from the roofline up
- bringing the well riser up to/above ground level
- replacing/repairing the driveway
Basically, the driveway was grass in the summer and deep mud ruts in the winter and has been annoying me from the start. So come tax return season, it made it onto my short list.
A few rainy days later I decided the driveway won. In addition to getting rid of the mud ruts, I figured with spring and summer coming it would be one less thing to mow.
I couldn’t find a good ‘before’ picture of my driveway, but by early March it looked about like this
I had big dreams of me and the fam digging out the driveway, leveling it off, and then filling it with larger stones on the bottom, a medium stone layer, and small (more rounded) stones on top for optimum drainage and longevity. But honestly, I wasn’t even sure where to start. As a kid my parents always hired a close family friend to fix up the driveway, and I’ve lived in apartments for the past 18 or so years. I had no idea who I could call to find gravel, how much any of it was going to cost, or even that there were so many different types of gravel (or how to choose the right one). As luck would have it (because Wassaic is awesome!) one of our lovely neighbors was able to recommend a good place to start.
Now, I like doing things myself (or making people in my house do them), and since I own shovels and can google, I figured that was the best approach – but the others I’d automatically volunteered to help with the digging convinced me to get an estimate from someone with an excavator. I begrudgingly agreed, and in came Dave.
My neighbor told me Dave Marshall is a ‘good operator’, and that’s no exaggeration. From the first phone call, Dave was a real pleasure to work with. He came by right away to see the driveway and give a quote.
I told him right off the bat that I wanted to do it right: dig it out, lay different layers of stone, etc. He examined the space and proceeded to honest his way out of a bigger payday. He easily could have just said “sure!” and it would have easily been a 4-figure job for him. But after checking out the existing* driveway he found that (much of it) it was actually in pretty good shape — underneath the squishy layer of mud, at least.
He suggested we just scrape off the mud layer (thicker in some areas than others), then bring a load of type 3 gravel.** His quote for this (inclusive of all the excavating) was way less than the way google (and Bob Vila) had told me to do it, and I instantly trusted Dave… so my driveway won the tax return money.
Everyone was happy – Sergiu and Elliot, mostly, because this meant I wasn’t going to try and make us/them dig out the whole thing with our two little garden shovels 🙂
Dave’s timeline serendipitously worked out and he was back with his excavator within the week.*** Aside from going back and forth a few times on exactly where I wanted the borders to be, everything worked out perfectly.****
To prep, Sergiu chopped off some rebellious tree limbs, using mostly just his own Sergiu-made-knives***** (though I suspect a hand saw was also utilized for the >6″ parts) while Elliot and I played tug-of-war with some buried wires we found (hopefully they weren’t/aren’t live… 😉 ).
Dave did the whole thing in less than a day (and all by himself); before it got dark I had a beautiful and functional driveway – no more mud, no more grass, no more WWI-style trenches.
*I use the term loosely; all I could see was a wide strip of mud with some pebbles strewn about to make digging particularly difficult and labor intensive.
**I don’t actually know what this means, except that it has sand/dust in it as well to help secure it in place. Just driving on and off the driveway will pack it down and let it do its job for several years. I’m told.
***Obi was thrilled. I thought he was going to pass out from joy at seeing the excavator parked in the yard.
****Meaning I got my way.
*****Those things are sharp. And I swear, some of them are more like a freaking gladius or coupe-chou.