Monday, September 12, 2005

Landscaping Costs

We decided to build a swing set for Ellie this summer. We did a bit of research and decided on a cool kit from Lowe's. Paul is excited to buy the lumber and build the thing himself. It comes with a cool toddler "rock" wall - perfect for learning stair climbing - and other features that can easily be updated to bigger and better attractions as Ellie outgrows them.

We bought the kit and brought it home. Ellie understood immediately and was so excited. She kept asking us to open the box for her:

We have a half acre lot; plenty of room for a swing set, right? Even a big wooden one? Well . . . it turns out that our backyard slopes downward. It's not enough to wreck your croquet game (the weeds do a good enough job of that) but it's not up to my standards of safety either.

And the old, wooden retaining walls back there are full of carpenter ants and yellow jackets. They've got to go.

So we had a few landscapers out to give us some bids. The first guy was perfect: a small, locally owned business, very friendly, and had some great ideas for how to replace the retaining walls and add a safe playpit for the swingset. For $15,000. We called the company that just does cheapo retaining walls, no landscaping, no playpits: $12,000. The third and fourth places never called us back. We're waiting on two more estimates, but I'm not optimistic. Retaining walls seem to be hugely expensive and a largely fixed price (the "stone" costs so much per square foot, wholesale). And we can really only (only!) afford about $10,000 right now. And by afford, I mean that we don't want to go any further into dept than that. Blast.

I really wanted to have the backyard fixed up: build a nice play area for Ellie, get rid of the rotting railroad ties, remove the overgrown landscaping, maybe even fence the yard in. But it seems that I'm either going to have to get a lot handier (and energetic!) or a lot richer.


ccw said...

Oh my! I had no idea it could cost so much. We were fortunate to find a kit that was being discontinued, so our kit was only $19, plus the cost of wood and two weekends of work.

I hope you all find a more economical solution so that Ellie can have her play set.

moxiemomma said...

hi, i followed a link from another blog over here. i haven't read anything else on your blog yet, but i do know a thing or two about putting in a swingset/play area for a kid :)

we used a plan from it was really hard work to dig the pit and get the area ready, but my dad and i dug the pit in two days and then my husband, my dad, and i built the swingset. it turned out great!

i feel for you on the landscapers--we just had our front yard weeded (because we haven't had time to do it ourselves) and it cost nearly $1000! i think i'm in the wrong profession!

Jessica said...

Hey, Sarahlynn - I know we discussed this topic at brunch on Sunday so I just wanted to say "Happy Birthday!"

PPB said...

Ooh! it's your birthday!!!
I'm sorry about the backyard. Yikes!

trisha said...

I am too jealous that you can afford to be $10,000 in debt to comment further.

trisha said...

Oh, um, except:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!! Yay! Yay, You!

How old are you now? What didja get? Didja have fun?

trisha said...

D'oh. 31.

Tara Marie said...

Happy Birthday!!!!

Yikes about the cost of the project.

I hope a more affordable alternative presents itself.

Want to hear a really cool thing? We got our [amazing and way out of our price range] wooden swingset for Emma Sage at a garage sale. I saw a sign that said [ask about swingset in back] peeked around back and thought [now way could I even afford this set used, it was over $5000 new] but decided to ask the owner that moment of me asking him, my oldest daughter walks over with Emma Sage in her arms and the owner takes a look at Emma Sage,,,,gets a big smile on his face and says "Is it for this little one?" I say "Yes" we weren't going to buy a new set but figured that she would get many, many more years out of it. He asks me how much was I thinking about spending [and I told him I couldn't spend more than $500] and he says 'I'll sell it to you for $300'.....and then goes on to tell me that he has a son with Down syndrome too!!!!!

Anyway,,,,,,here are magical Birthday wishes for the landscaping fairy to visit your house and a new play area for little Miss will be in your backyard before you know it.

Buy the way, I saw the kit you got at Lowes and thought the rock climbing wall was so neat!

Peace, Tara Marie

Sarahlynn said...

Thanks, Jessica, PPB, Trisha, and Tara Marie!

Trisha, I use the word "afford" very loosely here. We are in waaay too much debt. Fortunately, we are irresponsible.

Tara Marie, that is a great story. Thank you for sharing it.

Sarahlynn said...

I am still depressed about this. I wish someone would just hand me a bucket of big money.

But then I feel guilty because of course there are so very, very many people who need money very, very much more than I do.