About 30 years ago, my husband and I, with the help of our then 10-year-old son, built a bunch of brick planters around the house. We did that because we live on top of a ridge line, and there is basically very little ‘soil.’ If you try to dig a hole, you hit rock almost immediately. The only soil we have we had trucked in when we built the house so that we could have a lawn. We ended up with 14 brick planters of many shapes and sizes around the house so that we could have bushes and flowers.
At the end of the winter, all of a sudden the planters on either end of the front of the house collapsed. We’re not sure why. Maybe the mortar we used on those two was bad. Maybe the hydrangea plants’ roots undermined the strength of the bricks. For whatever reason, a whole section of each planter came down.
We spent a lot of time and effort knocking the rest of the bricks down and hauling them behind our well house. We got down to the last round of bricks, but even with a sledge hammer, couldn’t budge them. We cleaned up the area as much as possible, shoveling the potting soil onto a tarp and then wrapping the soil up, hoping to save it.
Either end of the house has looked like the photo above, with the bottom round of bricks on the slab we poured, waiting for the rebuild. We looked and looked for brick layers, but everyone was busy. This is too small a job for most workmen. But we HAD the bricks, we HAD the mortar, and all we needed was someone who knew what they were doing to put in the labor to do the rebuild. After calling and talking to a LOT of people, we finally had one man who would come up and give us an estimate for the two planters. His estimate was $700. We gulped, thanked him for his time, and proceeded to build the planter on the far end of the house ourselves.
We knew we were in over our heads, but we decided that we would mix up ONE bag of mortar and see how many bricks we could lay. It turned out that we could do one round of bricks per bag of mortar. So we used one bag each day, laid the one round of bricks, and cleaned up, doing this for 5 days.
I’m embarrassed to show you the job we did, but it DOES hold the potting soil, which we shoveled back into it from the tarp. We cleaned up the area around the planter as best we could. My husband modified the irrigation system pipe, wiring the ends of it to rebar at opposite ends of the planter.
Happily, I learned of a local brick layer on Facebook recently. It took us a long time to finally get him out here, but he came yesterday and gave us an estimate on rebuilding the second planter for us – one that we could afford – AND he would come today at 8am!
He didn’t actually come until 9:30 this morning. I had all but given up, but then, suddenly, he was coming up the driveway. I made sure he knew where bottles of cold water were, where a handy bathroom was, and got our wheelbarrow and a cement hoe. He started to work immediately. We went to town to get one more bag of mortar so that he could finish the job, and he finished right around 1:30 this afternoon.
As you can tell from this photo my husband took, Jose did a really nice job. He cleaned things up well, too.
His name is Jose Aguirre. His phone number is 479-285-3665. He can do new construction or repair things done with stone or brick. He is a nice, hardworking man who faced his intense dislike of our steep driveway, driving up here TWICE for the job. He really thought his vehicle wouldn’t make it, but it did. He also had trouble going down, skidding on the gravel at the bottom of the driveway. I suggested that he slow way down toward the bottom, EASE onto the brakes. I could tell he was dreading driving back down again after finishing the job, but he handled that, too. :0)
I got a bunch of his business cards. I will distribute them around Greenwood wherever it seems good. I will also write a blurb on the Greenwood AR section of Facebook. He is honest, trustworthy, hard-working, and does a beautiful job. I highly recommend him.
Tomorrow my husband and I will shovel the potting soil into the rebuilt planter and my husband will make a better irrigation pipe for this planter, too. THEN, maybe next week, we can have the fun of seeing what is available at the nursery to plant!