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The Sandlot Saga

06.03.11 By //

My Monster Mash loves to play outside, and loves to dig in the sand. He actually loves to dig in the dirt, but the sand will do for him when he gets tired of splinters and bugs or when I put my foot down and insist that my vegetable garden is not his dirt garden and the digging and drowning of my plants needs to stop! But we have the tiniest yard on the planet (true story) and his sandbox is a rather large variety with an attached table bench combo and coordinating umbrella and stand. This is fabulous for him and not so fabulous for me or the remaining space left in the yard. I will say that having multiple functions combined in one is convenient and it does help with shade since in addition to have the tiniest yard on the planet we also seem to have the hottest yard on the planet with temps in my region reaching near 110 in the summer and a south facing yard with little to no trees. It’s a recipe for sun damaged skin and playtime disaster! So I have decided that I’m ok with having a little yard as long as I can satisfy all of my needs in the tiny space and in this particular instance that means finding a place for my boy’s sandbox to live, that doesn’t take up precious outdoor living space or interfere with my gardening needs. And so, a portion of the grass landing strip must go… A dedication will be made and a home for the sandbox will be created! Which is actually kind of nice since it reduces mowing, watering, and part of the lawn drainage issue this particular yard seems to have! See everyone’s happy…

We dragged the sandbox onto the portion of grass that would be dedicated to it, a while back to “try it out” and see how it would work. It worked beautifully except the grass that wasn’t suffocated by it, got a little out of hand and you can’t exactly weed whack around and under the table portion without moving the sandbox… This was a problem, have you ever tried to move a ginormous sandbox? Not so easy… Besides doing it on a regular basis was not going to be a very viable long term solution so we decided to find something that would solve the problem more permanently without incurring a crazy expense or doing something permanent to a yard that isn’t actually ours.

Our options might have been to raise the grass (dig it out), pavers, mulch or bark, gravel, none of which seemed like they were solutions that worked for our budget, level of dedication we cared to contribute or for a toddler to play easily in and around. Gravel and bark may have kept the grass and weeds at bay, but those are double edged swords with scraped knees and bug problems that tend to arise where bark and gravel are concerned…not to mention a much more expensive solution than we were hoping for.

We emptied out the sandbox by shoveling the sand and the bazillion million toys that were mixed in with it, into some large empty pots I had on hand. I also recovered several measuring spoons and kitchen utensils that I had been wondering about… now I will know where to look next time they go missing!

You can see how out of hand the surrounding grass became and how well the sandbox did away with the grass underneath. Mr. TDC got to work with the weed whacker… One battery charge later we had taken the grass down to a short layer.

Monster Mash can’t pass up an opportunity to get in on the projecting action… like mommy like son! Mr. TDC could quite frankly live a very happy life without any projecting at all, but not us…MM and I, we need a few projects in the works at all times… And boy oh boy does he love to get some use out of his “measure”! He’s just so good at it too, and always lets me know that the item weighs 60 pounds according to his measure.

Off to the store we went to figure out how to finish this project without spending any money. Of course the answer to that is always no… and so we opted for the least expensive route instead. The edging shown in the image below blended best with the existing edging in the yard and came with all of the stakes required and the shortest amount of the edging that was purchasable, since we only needed 8’ of it. I used my Miter Saw to cut it in half down to the 8’ I needed which leaves me 8’ left over for another project in the future!

The directions suggest unrolling and flattening it out. As you can see MM found another use for it in the process since flattening this stuff out was not really going to happen, at least not that I could tell. The perfect racetrack for his racing cars!

Using your shovel you need to make a V shaped small trench. In my yard the soil/clay is usually moist so digging isn’t tough, but there is a high frequency of rock to be found so occasionally you hit a rough patch, literally. This adventure was no exception, every 2 feet a rock would throw a wrench in the plans, but all told this portion took maybe 20 minutes, not bad at all. Like I said, this stuff had no desire to do what it was told, regardless of how much flattening was attempted!

Using the stakes included, you simply pin down the edging and hammer down into place. With the circular nature of this stuff it became easier to force it into a relatively straight line if we staggered the pins back and forth, placing every other pin in the opposite direction… one on the right, one on the left, one on the right, one on the left, you get the picture. This helped keep it from bowing in an arc like it secretly wanted to do. Filling the dirt mud in on either side of the edging is ultimately what kept it straight and upright. All that weight transference and counter pressure stuff, you know!

After pricing out materials to cover this area with, we concluded that since most of the sand in the sandbox ends up outside the box anyhow, that perhaps when you can’t beat em’ you should join em’ and so sand around the box was the best solution for us. This was also hands down the least expensive solution and one that wouldn’t cause a problem with scraped knees or bug infestations like bark has a tendency to do in these parts with our friend the ant. For the sandbox itself, we use Play Sand which is cleaned and carefully packaged to provide a safe and clean sand castle building environment for the kiddos, but for the surrounding area this would begin to add up in cost since a bag of play sand is a bit over $4 per bag. The All Purpose sand however is under $3 per bag and has a more coarse consistency which would help it stay put and was perfect for our needs!

5 bags later we were back in business and while we knew it would settle a ton after the first rain it lives through, and that we would likely need to replenish it then, we were finished for the most part, with this simple little fix! We just poured the bags in a willy nilly kind of pattern and raked it into place. We really needed another bag or 2 to fill in a few areas that were a bit lower to allow for draining in it’s former life as part of our lawn, but since rain was on the horizon for the next day, we figured it could wait and we would save ourselves some time by filling in once we knew how much it would settle and how many total bags we would need! The image below is an update on the sand after the first rain, you can see that the edges nearest the patio settled quite a bit and we will need to fill in there now, but overall this has actually made a huge impact on the yard and how ‘put together’ it seems now. Strange…I didn’t expect that result but there you have it! The total cost of this quick little project was around $25 and with 2 more bags of sand needed to fill in a bit, that puts our grand total at under $30 for this transformation. I have to say the beachy feel it’s given the yard is rather exciting and I can’t wait to show you pictures of how this fits into my plans for the yard as a whole! I have many more projects on my outdoor to do list, and I will share my progress with you along the way. One small step a time and my house will become a home!

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