We’ve lived in our house nearly fifteen years, which is the exact amount of time that I’ve wanted to make our driveway smaller and my garden larger. Previous owners expanded the driveway to make for better basketball, something my sons appreciated when we first arrived. But given that the driveway is in the sunniest portion of our Wisconsin yard, through the years I’ve been slowly encroaching on that space with an expanding array of planters.
But we’ve had this other little problem of standing water. I’ve grown used to it, but in reality the standing water that accumulates on this section of the driveway is both a nuisance and a danger. Water a few inches deep soaks our shoes avoid after a small rainstorm. During one extreme rain event the entire back yard flooded to the point where my sons were able to paddle the canoe! But in late winter when snow thaws during the day and re-freezes at night, this section of the driveway is a true hazard.
As part of some larger landscaping plans, last year we came to a family agreement about concrete removal. The basketball net has been gone for a few years, and we all agreed that more garden is the way to go.
So yesterday morning, on a tip from a friend of mine who removed a much larger area of cement from her Milwaukee home-based business last year, I called Dennis Pinter to see if he could help me out. After describing the project to him, and answering his many questions, I asked “So, when do you think you could come out to do this?”
His answer: “I can be there in about an hour.” What? And if that weren’t good enough, he added “Could you use a load of compost? I have ten yards of compost loaded onto my truck that I could sell you.”
So, I wrapped up the work I was in the middle of, and prepared for his arrival. I’ve seen my share of rain gardens, and even helped install a few, but this was my first experience at concrete removal. As it turned out, Dennis’ fast turn-around wasn’t the only surprise of the day. Here’s a photo recap:
The discovery of a drain pipe adds a new twist to the next steps of our work. I’m curious to talk with our neighbor who has lived here long enough to remember the days before that drain was covered. But more importantly I need to figure out what to do with it! My goal of improving groundwater recharge and reducing stormwater runoff won’t get too far if I have a straight pipe to the sewer system. Yikes!