Sunday, May 31, 2009

I don't know what they're smoking at Environment Canada, but at least I got my garden time today after all. Recording results in pictures for future comparison.

The patio, pathways, and beginning of (creeping) thyme:

The newly dignified west bed, with ferns - magnolia in a bucket is waiting for Corey to help me plant it, since I don't feel like screwing up my back any further than I already have:

The beginnings of the sunny bed, with cleome, cosmos, and very small pampas grass, shasta daisy, and mimulus seedlings:

The east bed, somewhat less junglelike - indeed, rather bare - with some of the ferns moved elsewhere. Canterbury bells and hardy geraniums are a start on repopulating it, at least:

Ferns replacing some of the bigger revenant hydrangeas, which got dug up and foisted on a neighbour:

Lilac in bloom! Wish I'd gotten a picture of the neighbour's apple trees in bloom, too - they droop floriferous branches over the east fence; so gorgeous!

It's totally a spirea, and it's starting to bloom too:

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I found some cleome at Canadian Tire!! An annual, alas, but so gorgeous!

They also had my creeping thyme. Only in biggish pots, alas, but the internets tell me I can chop these larger plants up into smaller pieces and they will be undaunted. Hopefully tomorrow's promised miserable weather will yield an hour somewhere between showers for me to mess with them.

Is it completely weird for me to want a statue of St. Francis of Assisi in my garden? I have only the very remotest and embattled connection to catholicism. Once upon a time I was baptized because it was important to my father's parents, but when my sister's turn came, an idiot priest angered my dad into digging in his heels and walking away from it. Once upon a time my mother's parents got so much flak for their catholic/protestant "interfaith" marriage that it drove them almost completely away from either church - my impression is that although they continued to attend a protestant church of some kind (in that time and place, socially you had no choice but to go to church) the suspicion and cynicism generated by that experience has basically formed the family stance on organized religion ever since, even unto my generation.

Still, I find those garden statues of him more evocative of peace and harmony than the currently trendy buddha-heads. Some nice things I read about him on an online catholic encyclopedia:

There was about Francis, moreover, a chivalry and a poetry which gave to his other-worldliness a quite romantic charm and beauty. Other saints have seemed entirely dead to the world around them, but Francis was ever thoroughly in touch with the spirit of the age. He delighted in the songs of Provence, rejoiced in the new-born freedom of his native city, and cherished what Dante calls the pleasant sound of his dear land. And this exquisite human element in Francis's character was the key to that far-reaching, all-embracing sympathy, which may be almost called his characteristic gift. In his heart, as an old chronicler puts it, the whole world found refuge, the poor, the sick and the fallen being the objects of his solicitude in a more special manner...

The very animals found in Francis a tender friend and protector; thus we find him pleading with the people of Gubbio to feed the fierce wolf that had ravished their flocks, because through hunger "Brother Wolf" had done this wrong. And the early legends have left us many an idyllic picture of how beasts and birds alike susceptible to the charm of Francis's gentle ways, entered into loving companionship with him; how the hunted leveret sought to attract his notice; how the half-frozen bees crawled towards him in the winter to be fed; how the wild falcon fluttered around him; how the nightingale sang with him in sweetest content in the ilex grove at the Carceri, and how his "little brethren the birds" listened so devoutly to his sermon by the roadside near Bevagna that Francis chided himself for not having thought of preaching to them before. Francis's love of nature also stands out in bold relief in the world he moved in. He delighted to commune with the wild flowers, the crystal spring, and the friendly fire, and to greet the sun as it rose upon the fair Umbrian vale. In this respect, indeed, St. Francis's "gift of sympathy" seems to have been wider even than St. Paul's, for we find no evidence in the great Apostle of a love for nature or for animals.

I'm trying to remember what novel it was that (very engagingly) described Francis' preaching to the birds as an ironic, political act. Does anyone else remember this?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Plant spoils du jour: a Leonard Messel magnolia and a Bourbon clematis. They were out of creeping thyme, so I will have to go on a mission to another garden centre or two.

They did, however, have these stunningly beautiful weeping japanese maple trees. AUGH. Loblaws, why must you tempt me with gorgeous trees I have no space for! They're quite short, actually; if it weren't for the fact that they get to be horizontally massive, one of these would be perfect for the back of the sunny bed, with the nice height and the stunning foliage and the unusual colour. Although my google search tells me they're slow growers...augh. AUGH.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Was very productive today. Dug up the rest of the stoopid pavers - hurting my back in the process, I think; stoopid goddamn pavers - and got rid of all the saplings and celandine in the west bed, although I left most of the daylilies alone. Also dug celandine out of the east bed, thereby discovering that the liatris I planted there are coming up after all, albeit a little anemically due to lack of sun. Dug up several ferns and moved them around the yard; they are very stylish in the west bed, I must say, and add some nice height to the shady back corner. We'll see how well they take the transplanting, but my theory is that with all the rain they won't even so much as wilt. There's still quite the mob of them to dig up, and even then I'll be leaving a whole chunk of the east bed chock-full of them. (Anybody want some gigantor ferns?? I got plenty!) I figure the rest of the ones that are currently in the way can go in front of the spirea and hydrangeas, where they'll make a nice transition between the gigantor shrubby stuff and shorter perennials. Although that will make for quite a chilly green palette in that bed; I'll have to come up with something tall and colourful to put in there to break things up a bit. Astilbe maybe? I have to get rid of all the freaking lily of the valley first, in any case.

I also chopped down most of the rhubarb, which was creating a lot of shade with its massive leaves, so now I am making rhubarb crisp. Mmmmmmm, rhubarb crisp. It's been years since I've had this. I ♥ my garden.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I got the stones laid for all the pathways, except for the one on the east side of the yard that I will have to carve out once I've redistributed the giant pile of dirt that's in the way. I wish I could have planted the creeping thyme today, since it's going to rain for the rest of the week and it would have gotten a nice watering in, but I couldn't find it at Loblaws and I wouldn't have had time anyway, so alas. The outlines of the stones are rather smudgy at the moment because of the topsoil I swept over everything to get it in between the cracks; I am looking forward to seeing it after the rain, which should wash things clean and settle the contours a bit.

Overall, I am very pleased with the outcome of this project so far. Some of the stones are still not perfectly settled, but that will come with time/rain/ground cover, I think, and after all there's a limit to the perfection one can expect from dry-laid fieldstones (vs, say, perfectly flat flagstones laid in mortar). I have a good deal of rock left over, which I figure I will put down in the garden beds as needed for access purposes, and - more problematically - also a good deal of sand and topsoil. The topsoil I can use, but I'm at a bit of a loss for what to do with the sand...I'd make a sandbox for Rose, since God knows my sisters and I enjoyed the sandbox we had in Calgary, but she'd be too little for it until next year, and since it's building sand I don't know if it would be any good for that purpose anyway. I guess I'll throw an ad on craigslist/usedottawa and see if anyone wants free sand to schlep away.

So with THAT craziness mostly out of the way, I need to turn my attention back to the plants. I have seedlings that need to get in the ground and also seeds that need planting...damn, should have done that today, too. Well, if the rain lets up one of these evenings I will scoot out for project time; the ground will be wet, after all. Shasta daisies and pampas grass can go in the brand new sunny bed - pampas grass at the back, since if it survives it will make some nice height back there. Seedwise I have some little poppies that will be nice in the front, along with some wildflowers (scarlet flax, purple coneflowers). I have some annual seeds I may try, too; temporary solutions are better than nothing. And I may move some things (rose, peony) that are getting too much shade where they are...although maybe that should wait until the fall. We'll see how hacking out ferns and rhubarb stalks improves the light conditions. Meanwhile canterbury bells can go in the new part-shade bed, along with the lovely fuschia hardy geraniums that I haven't gotten around to planting, and some forget-me-nots.

I REALLY need to move some of those damn ferns; they are waist-high and thus would be good for height in the shade next to the west fence. Also I need to finish digging up the back of the west bed. I think I will buy one of the magnolia shrubs Loblaws is selling for $60 and put that in the sun bed, and then I need to find that flowering tree I've been speculating about for the back corner. I believe I will make a mid or late June nursery field trip.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Excavation complete:

Starting to lay stones over rock and sand (wish I'd gotten a picture of Corey steering the plate tamper, but alas):

Aaaaaaand nearly done! Just need to get more dirt into the cracks, settle a couple stones a bit more firmly, and plant ground cover - then I start on the pathways:

More views:


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Landscaping weekend of doom complete! Crushed rock got compacted, pathways got at least roughly dug out (stoopid tree roots :P), turf, paper and topsoil got distributed over most of two garden beds, and sand got almost all filled in and leveled - I have the last little crescent to fill in by myself tomorrow, and then I will start hauling rocks. I was going to get Corey to help me place the heaviest ones tonight, but those are going right in the middle, and in order to get to the middle at the moment one would have to stomp through all our soft, squishy, beautifully leveled sand. So I'll start at the edge and work my way across. We spread a tarp over it for the night to prevent neighbourhood cats from using it as a luxury-sized litterbox; hopefully they (and any other suburban critters) will be disinclined to walk on that.

All this accomplishment is thanks to the yeoman service of my darling husband, who has been a baby-minding, sand-schlepping, rock-compacting SUPERSTAR for the last couple days. It's also thanks to my mom, who took over the baby-minding for the later half of today, and who used her mad productivity mojo to ALSO get groceries, make dinner, and clean the fridge (!!!) I think I may sneak out to her house during the day and leave her some flowers or something.

Looking back over previous pictures of the yard, I have to say that I am THRILLED TO PIECES with the effect of all this renovation, which you can totally see taking shape at this point. The whole yard will have so much more...more...I don't even quite know how to put it. Structure? Definition? Pizzazz? This setup actually puts all the space in the yard to work in a dynamic way, whereas before the space was just sitting there empty and useless (except for attempting to grow straggly lawn). Tomorrow I will take some progress pictures.

The remaining problem, of course, is filling the gardening spaces, because they're HUGE. Even doing one per year is going to be a significant challenge. As I said to Corey this afternoon while throwing turf and topsoil around, "holy CRAP, this is going to be a big fucking garden bed. What have I gotten myself into?" His response: "oh, you know, the usual." Heh. Touche.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hear me roar:


Today while Rose noodled along with Corey I schlepped 1.5 tons of crushed rock from the front of the driveway to the backyard. It is now spread out in the patio circle and more or less leveled.


* mow the lawn, water the garden
* dig out pathways (OMG...more digging...nooooooes) which will involve redistributing that big pile of sort-of-turf and topsoil
* once mom arrives to watch the baby, to do with Corey: re-rent the plate tamper (long, stupid story there) and compact crushed rock, lay 3" of sand over the whole thing, and start putting down the Montague rocks
* get groceries for dinner of boeuf bourguignon (yummay) and some creeping thyme while I'm at Loblaws

I suspect I will be hacking at the pathways and putting down rocks during the week, too, but the bulk of the work - and certainly everything I need a second pair of hands for - should be done by the end of tomorrow.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

2/3 of the patio dug out and more or less level, and the rest will be at least de-turfed by the end of the day. Oof. Overambition, thy name is Ami. At least I'm getting my exercise. We don't need no steenkin gym!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I managed to dig up somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of the patio circle yesterday. I am impatiently waiting for the rain to go away so I can tackle it again (for as long as Rose is willing to noodle along with me, anyway). My evil and possibly over-ambitious plan is to have everything dug out so we can lay the foundation on Sunday. To this end, I also need to call the aggregates place sometime in the next day or two to order crushed stone and sand.

I've realized that I probably don't need to order topsoil, seeing as how I'm digging 8" down for about 300 square feet. That should give me enough to fill cracks between stones, mix with sand for the pathway foundations, and start at least one garden bed besides. Not sure what to do with the turf, though, such as it is - at first I thought I'd just chuck it at the bottom of the new garden bed and let it compost in, but it seems unwise to do that when the turf in question is riddled with creeping charlie and dandelions. The last things I want popping up in a freshly laid garden bed are infamously persistent weeds. Same problem arises with composting the turf, but it's too heavy to put out for yard waste collection. Hmmmm.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tomorrow, I suspect I will be hobbling around the house like a 90-year-old. BUT with the aid of a UHaul and a wheelbarrow and by wearing through the fingers of two pairs of cheapass garden gloves, we got our approximate ton of rock, ranging from little rocks


to medium rocks


to really friggin big rocks.


I'm glad we did this today, because I wouldn't have wanted to do it in weather any warmer (not to mention any buggier). Also I have renewed respect - awe is more the word - for the people who first attempted to farm in this part of the country, because we could have toiled away at pulling that wall apart for days and barely made a dent in it. The fact that somebody dug all that rock out of land they were attempting to cultivate kind of blows my mind. Especially given the vegetation, e.g. poison ivy and prickly elm (prickly being a serious understatement - like very tall, very thickety, very vigorous rose-bushes).

Friday, May 15, 2009

One last note before I go to bed: I badly want a creation by this lady, whose work I first saw at Art in the Park. Something to sit nestled in the middle back, maybe, in front of the maybe-a-spirea and hydrangeas, with other stuff growing up around it. I don't know if I should invest in such a thing at this point, though, or if I should wait until the garden halfway looks worthy of it. She's supposed to be at Art in the Park again this year, so maybe I'll track down her tent and ask some questions.
Also, patio layout!

Faint but visible:

Better view of the lines marking pathways:
It's been a while since I last posted pictures, so:


Aside from the scraggly lawn, this is not too bad, actually. Lots of nice variation in foliage, and things will only improve as various plants start blooming.

Speaking of which, here's the purpleleaf sandcherry in bloom. It smells delicious, which was a nice surprise.

Also in bloom is the creeping phlox, which is recovering from transplant yet but should be out in force next year.

Sempervivens from the plant sale.

The other little alpine doodads from the plant sale, which will get planted out front hopefully tomorrow morning before it starts to rain.

Geraniums to hopefully provide all-season colour to spruce things up while the other stuff musters up blooms. Need to get these in the ground too.


Looking somewhat greener back there, no? Also less hydrangea-ful. Need something with some height in the back right corner there; hopefully the climbing rose will provide that in the other corner. Notice that the junglelike tangle of green in the middle back no longer extends all the way to the right. TAKE THAT, lily of the valley.

View of the west side of the yard, including shady bed half-full of daylilies yet.

East side of the yard being taken over by ferns. I am going to have to revise some of my initial plantings in this bed; I had not expected the ferns or the rhubarb to be so gigantic.

Bleah. Depressing. Well, it's a project on a scale of years, not months. And there IS progress, it's just not on a full-yard scale yet. For example...

The honeysuckle looks happy, and should achieve the goal of height on the east side fairly quickly.

Monster alliums sending up buds, so far undaunted by the monster rhubarb.

Candytuft in bloom, despite being almost totally shaded by rhubarb leaves.

Bleeding heart, far from being harmed by the move, is almost as big as the rhododendron.

Periwinkle in bloom.

Brunnera - more plant sale spoils.

Random dogwood around the pine.

The lily patch. Note the lack of beetle damage. Neem oil FTW!!

Blaze rose. Climb, my pretty, climb, climb!

In news of the randomly awesome, there's a robin's nest right outside Rose's window:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Patio timetable! Hopefully, anyway...

Today or tomorrow Call aggregates place to order crushed rock, sand, topsoil, and possibly mulch while I'm at it; get marking paint, mason's line, line level, and stakes from Home Despot
May 18 Go get rocks with help of UHaul van and brute squad
Sometime next week Mark outlines of patio and paths; possibly start digging, depending on weather
May 22 Have aggregate stuff delivered
May 23 Dig out, fill, and compact foundation; install heavier rocks
May 24 Install rest of rocks, fill cracks with topsoil, and plant creeping thyme/moss

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I took off this evening to Montague to check out the prospective source of patio stones. I think it will work beautifully - the stones are a little uneven, being natural unfinished rock, but not in a way that would be unpleasant on the feet. As an added bonus, I was charmed to discover that the stones are coming from the tumbling-down wreck of a 200-year-old dry-laid stone wall and from cairns piled up in the fields around the same period. HOW COOL. In addition to being easy on the feet, my rocks will have character!

Of COURSE this weekend it will be pouring rain, but next weekend I will muster the brute squad and some babysitting and go get a truckload.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Today I weeded ferociously for a good 3h and got out of it about 3 square feet of bare dirt. And that no doubt is temporary, since I know I didn't get all the roots out. Man, lily of the valley is a lot more pernicious than it looks.

I have, randomly, a red-osier dogwood growing right next to the pine. I was happy to see this, since I have no objection at all to bird-feeding berries and nice red twigs for the winter. Strange place to plant it, though. Apparently low-lying branches will root themselves; I pulled up one branch that was attempting this feat and redirected it so it goes around the pine instead of into the spot I want for the lilies. Google, however, tells me that dogwood thickets can get pretty massive, and now I'm not sure what to do with it; I don't think it has enough room where it is, unless I send it in the other direction to do battle with the hydrangeas, and I'm afraid it would be the loser in that fight (considering that it was totally invisible until I chopped the hydrangeas down). Maybe I could try digging it up and moving it over to the west bed, since I've been wondering what to put over there for some height at the back? Easier said than done, I suspect...well, whatever I dug up would no doubt grow happily in the west bed, but I bet any root pieces left behind under the tree would ALSO grow happily.

Planted the anonymous bigass thing next to the maybe-a-spirea; planted the solomon's seal in the west bed, next to the fence where there's near-total shade; planted the filipendula between dogwood and lilies, since it's supposed to reach about 3.5' tall; planted the red sempervivens in the front yard where they will hopefully spread and fill up an empty spot under the yew. Still hemming and hawing about where best to put the others. The little alpine doodads will probably go in the front yard too, since it's drier there and there are better-defined places for tiny border plants. This is sort of my problem with the remaining shady stuff, since most of it keeps a pretty low profile but it's all interesting-looking enough that I want to be able to see it. I suppose I could just throw them all into the west bed for now and move them around or divide them once I start to get things more straightened out...not like that's going to happen very quickly, after all, and I may as well give them the chance to multiply a bit.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

It was really cold and windy out, and my poorly-engineered wagon was shedding bolts all over hell's half acre, BUT: the Experimental Farm's plant sale was awesome and satisfying in a way I usually associate with eating an entire box of chocolate chip cookies.

The spoils (illustrations courtesy of Google image search):

* a big pot of wild ginger - nice shady ground cover

* a big pot of new england asters - apparently attractive to butterflies

* a brunnera langtrees, pretty and shady

* a bigass thing whose name I can't remember, which puts out baby's-breath-like flowers above a rhubarb-type cluster of leaves

* variegated deadnettle, more shady ground cover

* nice dark red sempervivens (aka hens and chicks

* Solomon's Seal, also for shade

* a very pretty variety of primrose

* a couple of very pretty, teeny-tiny alpine/rock-garden plants whose names I don't know

* dark red geraniums

* Filipendula, which looks kind of like astilbe, only it goes in the sun instead of the shade

* a pot of bloodwort and sweet woodruff

Soooooooooooooooo I am definitely digging out most of the lilies of the valley to make myself some room for additional, more interesting forms of shady ground cover - this decision simplifies my life because I will no longer have to weed around them. I am also tempted to order an extra serving of dirt from the aggregates place and get going on a sunny bed right away (a part-sun bed will be easy; since there's not much grass there anyway I can probably just turn the soil and call it ready to plant)...y'know, I think that is what I will do, it's hard to plan for the existing beds without knowing what I'm going to be putting in front of them eventually.

Other stuff I need to do:
* dig up persistent hydrangea sprouts, possibly moving some elsewhere, since I may have cut the ones next to the maybe-a-spirea back a bit too hard
* finish weeding/digging around the maybe-a-spirea and mulch around the base where I won't be planting anything (using the bag of bark chips the previous owners helpfully left in the middle of one bed)
* dig up/move some of the damn ferns, they are too tall and generating too much shade where they are
* plant some morning glories to climb the birdbath hook
* possibly move the prairie joy rose, since it's not as sunny as I thought where I planted it
* dig the rest of the daylilies (well, OK, maybe just most of the daylilies) and tree suckers out of the west bed
* cut the flowers off the rhubarb...and also eat some of the rhubarb, that thing is getting monstrous and it's not even halfway through May yet
* de-dandelion the lawn - the lawn may be a lost cause, but that doesn't mean I want to fill it full of weeds
* put up the trellis behind the climbing rose
* prune the David Austin rose
* buy a small crowbar and get rid of the stupid pavers

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Recent discoveries, notes, observations:
* The things I thought were geraniums, with the bright orange blood? They're not geraniums. I have no idea wtf they are; 99% sure they're a weed, though. Celandine, maybe? Anyway, they are EVERYWHERE, but not for long.
* Mowing the front lawn this morning, I found patches of what I think are daisies and yarrow growing in the middle of it. I am going to mow around them and see what they turn into.
* As sad and scraggly as said lawn is, it does look better for having been mowed. The backyard lawn, meanwhile, is so weed-ridden and generally lame that I can't find the motivation to bother.
* I posted before about the lovely purpleleaf sandcherry, which we wants, precioussss. As it turns out, it looks like we already have one in front of the front steps. Awesome! Pictures to come when it blooms.
* The front yard in general is actually looking not-half-bad at the moment. The hanging baskets full of mini-petunias I hung by the door certainly don't hurt, either.
* The probably-a-spirea looks a hundred times better with the dead wood mostly chopped out. As a bonus, this freed up a nice chunk of sunny dirt to weed and plant stuff in. After the thing blooms I will take out the remaining low-hanging branches, thus freeing up more dirt, and call it pruned for this year. Also, I ♥ my new bigass Lee Valley ratcheting pruners.
* Blaze climbing rose is already twice the height it was when I planted it. Eeeeexcellent.
* Something is eating the flower buds off my rhododendron...close inspection suggests insects. Grrrrrr. Dammit, City of Ottawa, I want my rotenone powder back! Well, at least the leaf spikes seem to be undamaged.

Patio Progress:
So the UsedOttawa vendor with the rocks is a private individual with, well, a lot of rocks on their land. I am going to go visit them on Tuesday, hopefully, to check that said rocks will be barefoot-friendly enough to use for my purposes. If they are, this will be an unbelievably kickass bargain, to the tune of saving me $2.50 per square foot, aka about $1000 when taxes and pickup vs. delivery are figured in. So needless to say I really hope this works out. The stones will not be as schmancy as the $3/sqft limestone variety, but I'm going for a rustic look anyway, so whatevah.

Brought my seedlings home from mom's place. Mixed results - no pinks, marigolds, jacob's ladder or astilbe. One single solitary delphinium. And one of the cats has just chowed down on the pampas grass, and then to add insult to injury, threw it up all over the floor. Siiiigh. Well, we'll see if they recover, it's not as if the stuff was likely to bloom the first year anyway.

The annual seedlings are doing well, though. Cosmos, asters, bachelor's buttons, and zinnias are all looking good. Need to assess what annuals to buy...after tomorrow's plant sale, I guess, so I know what space I have. Lots of begonias and double impatiens to fill the shady west bed, anyway. I would really like to track down some cleome, too, but have never yet seen it for sale. In any case, the prospect of being able to mess around with all the sunny annuals has me drooling. Although it would be very easy to spend a lot of money this way, so I will endeavour to use annuals only as punctuation and container plants.

Anyway, need to make dumplings, so my garden fantasies will have to wait. Till TOMORROW. Ahahahahahahaa!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Hmm, good job I waited to go get groceries, suddenly it is pouring out. Hopefully this will not be an all-afternoon state of affairs, I wanted to go wield my new bigass pruning choppers at the anonymous shrub. I'm pretty sure said shrub is a spirea, so I shouldn't hack at it until after it's bloomed, but the dead wood all around the bottom can come off, anyway. I tried applying my normal pruning shears to this task and they just weren't up to it. Once it stops raining I will also have to go out and wield Neem oil at the lilies. My usual weapon of choice has apparently fallen under the pesticide ban...which, for the record, I totally support, but dammit, rotenone was the only thing that actually worked on the beetles. Well, I hear good things about the Neem, you just have to reapply it constantly (e.g. after it rains, after watering, every couple days otherwise). Hopefully it will be effective.

Found a place via selling calcified sandstone of all shapes and sizes for $100 a ton. Since a ton is estimated to cover 200 sq ft in 3" rock, and I need 325 sq ft, I could probably get all my patio stones (since they only need to be about 1.5" thick for my purposes) for about $100, which is eeeeeeeeexcellent. The trick of course is that you have to pick it up yourself. Well, UHaul's website tells me that their cargo van carries a max load of about 3700 lbs, and a ton (assuming it's a metric ton) is about 2200 lbs. Then I'd just need to find a good source for crushed rock, sand, and topsoil. Greely Sand & Gravel is the first Google stop for such things...hmm, not sure how metric tons and cubic yards match up, guess I'll have to ask about that to get price confirmation, but I *think* I might be able to achieve this patio within a budget of $500...yep, confirmed. Sah-weeeeeet.