Our backyard was not going according to plan and all of my original timelines were thrown out the window thanks to delays from our contractor.
We expected the garage to be done first, which meant working our way from the back of the yard towards the house. But that really wasn’t going to happen, so we had to adjust our plans and try to work from the deck back.
Phase 1: North Fence and Gate
Phase 2: Garage
Phase 3: South FencePhase 4: Garage Canopy and Deck
Phase 5: Walkway and Pavers
Phase 6: Floating Deck
At the end of July, in my utter frustration with our contractor, I asked him to remove all the landscaping scope from his job and hired a different company to rebuild the walkway at the side of our house (shared with our neighbour). He agreed, so I contacted a few companies to get quotes for the work. I found a reputable company that was trying to fit in a small job right away, so they offered to come at the end of the week to start. Things were starting to look up.
Everything was in place for our landscaping contractor to start but I still needed to get the pavers from our other contractor. Since he was supposed to do the work, he had convinced me to buy the product through him (supposedly benefiting from his discount) so I then had to coordinate with him to get the pavers on site. He had told me they were waiting at the store, ready to be picked up anytime. Turns out that wasn’t true; he had moved them to a storage unit in Kitchener. And of course, he wasn’t able to get them delivered in time for when I needed them.
I was really defeated at this point. I managed to find a way forward and I was being held up yet again. Eventually he confirmed that there was no way he could get the pavers in time and offered to let me buy them again with the promise of a full refund. I took a chance and ordered another order of pavers and had them scheduled for delivery for the end of the week.
The first focus would be on the concrete walkway. It was in rough shape, so we were looking to replace the existing, cracked concrete, and replace it with new concrete that extended all the way to the sidewalk (and didn’t do that little jog).
José and his team came on a Wednesday to break up the existing concrete and prepare the ground for a new walkway.
By Thursday at lunch, the path was ready to receive gravel and concrete and they poured away!
By Thursday evening, our concrete walkway was done!
On Friday, they moved on to our backyard. They had started a trench on Wednesday (which we helped finish to speed things up) and we laid our conduit for the garage. We even managed to pass our inspection, even though the trench only went halfway to the backyard.
Once the conduit was in, José and friends worked on the rest of the area to prepare it for the pavers, which arrived very early on Friday morning.
By mid-afternoon they informed me that they would be stopping for the day and coming back next week. Since we were leaving for Montreal the next morning, this wasn’t going to work so I strongly encouraged them to stay and finish the job, which they did.
The final step was to put in the polymeric sand.
And of course we didn’t have enough sand to finish the job, so they promised to come back while we were away to finish the rest.
When we got back from Montreal, I called José to come back again to finish the next part of the job: the walkway towards the garage. The only missing piece was the pavers themselves, still with our garage contractor. He promised to have them on site by Wednesday so we could work on the pavers that week. They did not arrive on Wednesday, but José’s crew did and prepared the ground for the pavers and my future deck.
Because the pavers still hadn’t arrived on Thursday (as promised AGAIN), José’s crew came in the afternoon to lay the gravel in hopes that the pavers would show up before they left for the day.
The pavers finally arrived late-afternoon on Thursday, but – not surprisingly – they were the wrong ones. My gut ended up being right. Our contractor, who claimed these pavers were purchased in April and sitting in storage in Kitchener, never actually bought them. And when I asked for them to be delivered because I couldn’t quickly order them (they have a 4-week lead time), he scrambled to find the closest thing he could find and TechnoBloc pavers delivered. My 24×24 pavers were supposed to be Unilock to match the smaller pavers I had installed.
I asked the driver who dropped off the pavers where he picked them up. It wasn’t from a storage locker in Kitchener. It was from Beaver Valley in Vaughan. The nerve on this guy.
I was livid. Like, smoke-coming-out-of-my-ears mad. The audacity of this guy to think he’d trick me in buying pavers as if I wouldn’t notice. And, when I gave him an out, saying that if he hadn’t bought them yet to just let me know and I’d order my own, got all offended and gaslit me.
I ordered my Unilock special order 24×24 pavers that day and José will come back in early September to install them.
I’m still fuming.
Fast forward to the end of September, the pavers were finally in Toronto and I brought José and team came back to finish the walkway. By that time, we had actually made some progress on the garage (we had a concrete pad finally!) so they could install all of the pavers, not just the few feet we originally planned.
After the pavers were installed, I added some polymeric sand and rocks to the side to complete the look.
I also advanced my work on the rest of the landscaping but adding garden beds against the fence and adding a new grass area at the back.
The garden beds were relatively easy to do. The hardest part was adding enough soil to the garden beds and also my neighbour’s yard to get everything to the right height. I also needed several bags of garden soil, which required countless trips to Home Depot to carry it all.
The other side of the walkway was a bit trickier, as it required a new garden bed and compacted ground for new sod.
I spent hours using a hand tamper, trying to pound the ground as much as I could. I also spent a lot of time using a piece of scrap 2×6 to get the ground as level and flat as I could. I’m not sure how many hours I worked on this small area over the course of a couple of weeks, but it was painful. And I had to keep sending Alex back to Home Depot for dirt because I continuously underestimated how much dirt I would need to fill the space.
Once the ground was fairly compacted and I was happy with the levelness and flatness of it, I rented a lawn roller (one of those large barrels you fill with water and roll over the lawn). It worked quite well and it only took me a couple of hours with it to get the ground exactly how I wanted it – often filling in small uneven areas that settled more than others.
With the ground nicely compacted and ready to go, I then bought 8 pieces of sod and put them all in place.
I was worried about the squirrels or racoons pulling up the sod pieces, but even after a week or so, it was mostly untouched. I kept up on watering the lawn so that it had the best chance of taking root before winter came.
I also planted some bulbs, but I’m not sure they’ll be a success. The squirrels kept digging them up and I kept replanting the ones I would see around the garden, but it’s unclear how many are still in the ground. We’ll see next year! As for the other plants, I want to wait until the Spring when I have more options for plants. The garden centres simply don’t have as many options in the Fall.
The final pavers went in when all the garage work was done.
It was so incredible to see everything come together – from my first initial design to the final build!