Sunday, April 25, 2021

Fixing My Garden and Finally Fixing My Wooden Gate

I love working with my hands. I love creating. I love fixing things that aren't working. But sometimes I get very overwhelmed by life and don't manage to do the things that I would love to do, and sometimes things that I should do as well. Because my everyday life is busy, it is hard to find time for the extra stuff.

The other day, though, I was sick of my kitchen cabinet doors needing their hinges fixed (the screws holding the hinges stripped the holes and came out, so I couldn't just screw them back in) and I went to the hardware store to buy larger screws to fix them, and while I was there decided to finally do something about my front gate.

Oh, and the front gate? 

You know the "If you give a mouse a cookie" book? Where one thing leads to another which leads to another which leads to another? That's what happened here.

I bought my kids bikes and I needed to have a place to put them that wasn't in my house. (Sorry kids, I love you, but I still don't want 4 bikes in my living room.) But I also needed to have a way to stop them from being stolen, because unfortunately there have been thefts of bikes in my neighborhood, from people's yards. 

The only place to put the bikes in my yard, though, where they wouldn't be stolen, was chained along my fence. The thing is, though, that that area was blocked by three fruit trees I'd purchased nearly a year ago and never got around to actually planting in the ground. (Because life.)

My Asian pear tree is flowering! The petunias I planted next to it are still recovering from the transplanting. The fuscia seems to be doing well.

So I decided to plant those trees to make room for the bikes. However, the yard was overgrown with weeds (specifically cleavers, which literally was smothering nearly everything else, like my mint and my aloe which I didn't realize I had) and I felt I should pull those up before I planted the trees, so I spent some time pulling those out. I also cut the incredibly overgrown sage and lavender. Then I planted the trees.

My persimmon tree also seems really happy. Not sure what type of flower it is next to it though, but it also seems happy.

My yard was starting to come together, finally, and I was proud of it.

Then my bestie Michelle took me with her to a nursery and I picked out a few beautiful flowers to put in my garden to pretty it up. This is the first time I'm actually planting non edible things, but beauty is also a worthwhile thing to plant. I got perennials so that these will actually last and not be a recurrent expense.

My feijoa doesn't seem too happy, probably because I didn't water it enough. But I'm hoping that now its in the ground with a watering system it will recover. Oh yea, and that is a rug, that I mistakenly put down thinking it'll stop plants from growing. It did but its also decomposing a bit and will be replaced  very soon.

I then cleaned up the trash in my yard that the neighbors' kids tossed into my yard or the wind blew there.
My fruiting loquat tree! I can't wait for the fruit to be ready this summer! Also lots of wild swiss chard, mint, and aloe vera.

My yard was finally starting to come together. Other than one big issue.

The front gate.

About 2 years ago the wooden front gate that my ex built broke. The wood holding it onto the wooden beam attached to the hinges and upright mostly snapped off (but was still somewhat attached), and the gate was lying down in my yard for a while, and then it was leaning up against my fence for the rest of the time.  It was a huge eyesore and I kept telling myself I'll fix it. I knew it probably wouldn't be the biggest deal to fix it, but life got in the way. However, now that I finally fixed up the yard, it was time to fix the gate. So when I anyhow was at the hardware store to buy things to fix my cabinet doors, I bought the necessary equipment to fix the door. Essentially one beam of wood, nails, and screws.

When I was in the hardware store I asked them what was stronger and better to use for building, screws or nails, and I was told nails are better and stronger. And that screws can damage wood and cause it to split more easily than nails do. I have no idea what is actually true, but I decided to use a mix of both for this project.

In the past, I used an oscillating tool to cut wood, but my ex currently has the oscillating tool we had, so I needed to cut the wood with a saw. It was my first time using a saw in a while (and my ex has the better saw, this was a flimsy regular saw, making it harder to use) but it was a fun workout. I measured how long each piece of wood needed to be and cut them to the right length with my son, Lee's help. 

The new wooden brace added. Will be painted with waterproofing stain soon.

Originally my plan was to use the new pieces of wood to replace the broken wood that made my door fall, simply above it on the door. I was going to stand up the door and to it all together, but my son, Lee, recommended that I lay it down flat on the floor to fix it and then attach it. To do that, I first needed to unscrew what was still holding it attached to the hinge. Once I did that, I completely removed the broken piece of wood along the bottom, replaced it with new wood, and added more wood across the bottom and top of both sides of the door to make it sturdy. 

Look how many layers there are, all being held together. Hopefully this will keep it strong.

A negative thing about the previous gate is it wasn't high up enough from the ground, so it ended up dragging along the paving tiles each time it opened and closed. It also wasn't made well enough with enough wood bracing it so it didn't like staying in a rectangle shape but actually became more rhombus shaped. So I tried to make sure that it stayed totally rectangular and off the ground by putting more wood in different directions and when we attached it to the hinges we put a thin piece of wood down underneath it so that it would attach above the ground and would open and close easily.

The bottom brace is extra important to stop it from losing its rectangular shape and starting to drag on the ground.

Lee and I worked as a team beautifully, taking turns screwing and hammering. It was mostly my idea how to do things, but he did give me some pointers, like that it would be easier with it lying on the ground and only at the end attaching it, instead of trying to reattach where it was falling off, and then fixing it. He also pointed out where it would be weakest and in most need of strengthening, and we made sure to put extra screws and nails there to keep it secure.

The inside brace.

It was a wonderful experience building this together with my son. It reminded me of when we built our Ikea kitchen together, some of my fond mother son memories. While Mike and I had quite a tumultuous relationship that needed to end, one of the things I did enjoy most with him was building things together as a team. Now that Lee is 13 and strong and tall and capable, it was so much fun working together, even more so than when I built things with Mike.

With all these braces, no it isn't flush with the other door. But that's ok, now I can lock the gate more easily.

We started this at around 5:30 pm, and by the time we finished it, it was already getting dark, but I didn't want to stop because it was so much fun and I knew if I waited, it might take a long time to actually finish it. I may or may not have hammered my thumb twice at the end, but all is good.

We now have a gorgeous working gate and I felt so kickbutt and powerful building it. The last time I remember feeling this good and accomplished was when I built my bed all by myself. I love the feeling of satisfaction of a job well done, and being able to use what you made all the time. I get such enjoyment just looking at the fence outside my window, and it swings so beautifully and easily and now we can finally close our front gate and stop Snickers from attempting to run away any time the front door opens.

Yes, it took me 2 years to fix this, but better late than never, eh?

Oh, and as for the garden? Two more big things I am doing. Next week I am getting some synthetic grass to put in the middle area between the trees and flowers and edible plants, so we could walk to the hammock more easily and so that area will be free of weeds. And I really, really want an outdoor bench for the garden. But that'll be in a little while.

But the yard definitely makes me happy right now.


  1. Congratulations to you both for a job well done you must be justifiably proud! I am sure having such a job scratched out from your "to do" list will bring joy and practical benefits.

  2. Wow, I'm impressed! Great job!

  3. "clapping" kudos, job well done


Thank you for leaving a comment on your blog. Comments are moderated- please be patient to allow time for them to go through. Opposing opinions are permitted, discussion and disagreements are encouraged, but nasty comments for the sole purpose of being nasty without constructive criticisms will be deleted.
Just a note- I take my privacy seriously, and comments giving away my location or religion are automatically deleted too.