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3 Men & An Excavator

Recently we began an exciting new project here on the Saanich Peninsula.  Having worked with these clients previously on another property, we were all quite eager to begin another project together. 

Back yard before work begins.

Back yard before work begins.

They had lived in the house for a few years but had never felt at home in their backyard. From the back door you had to go up four steps to a little patio awkwardly positioned right in front of the concrete steps, so basically you had a view of your back door from the bistro table. It wasn’t exactly inspiring. The ground was level, there were an assortment of plants, some overgrown trees and just a general sense of blandness, and our clients wanted more.


Over dinner, we dreamed about what could be.  


We talked about outdoor kitchens and water features, a fire pit and hot tub, a retaining wall and patio, new plantings, old plantings and everything in between.We listened to them talk about spending time together outside, connecting as a couple and as a  family. We heard their desire to show hospitality and to have a space that could be really enjoyed and well used.


We talked about how much work excavating the entire back yard would be, but how awesome that would make it!


We brainstormed around the problem of access - basically there was none!  We calculated that we had to remove 150 yards of material in order to lower the grade.  There was no way we could get a truck into the back yard or even next door, so everything had to be carted out in a mechanical wheel barrow! Good Times!!

Computerized Concept Plan 

Computerized Concept Plan 

The next step was the design phase. We talked and sketched, because for us, creativity and the physical act of drawing are inseparable. There is an inherent ease and fluidity that come from pencil and paper that doesn't exist when designing from scratch on computer.  Merle then translates the sketches from paper into our design program and the design came to life.


Then the digging began. For those of you that don’t instantly know what 180 cubic yards of dirt and clay means, let me break it down for you.  


9 days

3 men

1 mini excavator

1 walk behind bobcat (her name is Baby and nobody puts her in a corner*)

1 horrendously named mechanical wheelbarrow/ buggy thing

12 30 feet long bins that arrived empty, got filled, removed and replaced with a new one.


The digging begins.

The digging begins.

Motorized wheel buggy holds .7 yards per load.

Motorized wheel buggy holds .7 yards per load.

Making good progress.

Making good progress.

One of the 250 plus trips to the bin on the driveway.

One of the 250 plus trips to the bin on the driveway.

By coincidence and incredible convenience, our client’s next door neighbour just so happened to be the happy owner of a mini excavator as well as bare land across the road where we can store our supplies.  Through his help and generosity we have been able to make it all happen!  

Demo Done ... now it's time to start the build.

Demo Done ... now it's time to start the build.