6 1/2 years ago we demolished the chimney that used to run through our pantry closet. It was no longer being used, as we had switched to a high efficiency furnace and a tankless water heater, both of which vented out the side of the house. The bricks sat in a pile in the side yard for six months, until we moved them to the back corner, so that we could rototill and lay sod (now deceased) in the yard.
We had grand plans of one day building a pathway, an outdoor oven or some other amazing, artistic creation as soon as we got to the point of having everything else done on the house. Even ignoring the obvious fact that we will never reach the point of having everything else done, we also gradually learned an important lesson about bricks: glazing is important. These bricks were very rough and porous and completely lacking in any kind of weather-resistance. Presumably, this is because most of them were indoors and not exposed to the elements. We started noticing that our bricks were gradually disintegrating out in the yard. They were splitting and cracking after being exposed to water and freeze/thaw cycles. It became apparent to us that the bricks were useless and now just taking up a bunch of space in our yard.
Fast forward to this summer… after our landscape contractors finished up the tough work on our side yard, we were left with a huge pile of crushed rock. I estimated that we had 6 yards remaining (out of a total of 12), so math is clearly not our landscaper’s strong suit. Wanting to take advantage of it while we had it, we decided to go ahead and clear out the weeds and debris from the other side of our house and gravel both sides of the narrow walkway. Our house is only about 5′ from the property line, as is our neighbors’ house, so this area has been long neglected. I ordered a dirt/sod dumpster and spent much of this last weekend loading up our yard cart with dirt, wheeling it to the front of the house, carrying it down the stairs and rolling it up into the dumpster. Fun stuff! One of the cool things about the dirt/sod dumpster, though, is that concrete chunks and bricks are also acceptable materials.
Knowing that we would never want to pay for another dumpster, I made myself go out Monday night after work and spent 3 1/2 hours hauling all 820 or so bricks down to the dumpster. It took 33 trips:
- Load 3 buckets with 8-9 bricks each
- Load buckets into the yard cart
- Push yard cart 90′ around the house to get to the front steps
- Carry buckets down the steps (did we mention that elevated lots make all house projects even worse than they already are?)
- Dump buckets of bricks into dumpster
- Return to back yard and repeat until finished
It sucked, but it’s done. And with the bricks gone and the side strip cleared out, we have for the first time achieved the elusive goal of having no crap or other garbage lying around our house. I found bits and pieces of most of our projects on the side of the house…a bunch of old molding from the family room, a rusted latch from an old door, empty cans of paint, rags and stir sticks from the house painting, remnants of the old galvanized plumbing….all of it is gone. It’s actually a pretty amazing feeling to walk around the house and not see all the clutter!