by Josh on June 25, 2008 · 0 comments

in Projects,Uncategorized

Here’s another project that got a bit bigger than I was expecting. I have a lovely “Josephine” clematis that I want to plant between the backyard gate and the house as a replacement for grapevine that has been growing there.

This is an unusual spot where a small deck is built over the top of the old back stairs and brick wing walls. Right against the deck and brick walls is a tall section of chain link fence that is now is used only as a trellis for the grapevine. I want to clear out the aggressive grapevine and replace the ugly and obsolete chain link fence with a wooden trellis that better integrates with the deck while concealing the unused old stairs.

Before the clematis can go in, the grapevine must come out, so I pulled out the vines and dug out as much of the roots as I could. This is what the spot looked like with the grapevine removed, and the fence, old steps and deck clearly visible:

Back Steps With Fence

Removing the fence proved surprisingly easy. First I unbolted the hardware holding the chain links to the posts and removed the fencing. With just the posts left, I dug down enough to wiggle loose the posts and their concrete footings. It felt awfully manly to pull those big concrete-coated posts out of the ground, though it was much less manly for me to stagger around like a drunk while struggling to wield the heavy, awkward things.

With the fence out of the way, I had great access to the old stairs and I immediately saw two problems that were going to complicate my plan to plant the clematis: grapevine roots that had penetrated the wing wall and a big gap at the corner that will require tuckpointing.

Wingwall Joint Detail

It looks like a partial repair may have been attempted at the top of the wall using concrete, but otherwise the tuckpointing problem had been well-concealed behind the old fence post. I have never tuckpointed before, so I’m looking forward to this opportunity to practice the skill on a low-risk area like the old back steps. As for the grapevine roots that have gone through the brick to who knows where, I’m going to have to use Roundup on any growth they produce and hope that is enough to finish off the last of the old vines.

When the old grapevine is gone and the mortar is mended, I will be able to build the trellis and (at last) plant the clematis.

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