Ever see those neat landscaping lights that light up your tree at night but stay hidden in the day acting like rocks? Ever notice how the store bought ones look fake? Plastic rocks are hard to make look like real rocks, and even if you find one that looks like a real rock, does it look like the other rocks in your garden? Probably not, and you just paid $20 to $50 to have a plastic rock in your garden. We can do far better for far cheaper.
Through a friend of a friend I came upon the blessing of some free stone. It seems Tom had just completed work on his beautiful home and had quite a bit of scrap stone left. Most of the stone was small and irregular, but it was also free. I collected as much as possible in the time I had available but what to do with it? I love stone, it is attractive, incredibly low maintenance and wherever you put it in the garden you never have to weed again...but I can't just pile a bunch of stone in my garden....or can I? After unloading and staring at the stone for some time I came up with the concept; let's build some nice bottomless planters for the garden. Lots of visual impact, lots of stone and it will make some decent dents in the places I need to weed in the future. If you don't have a friend of a friend who just built a house look towards friends in the construction trades. Frequently when houses are built scrap stone is simply discarded often buried at the build site itself. Being friendly to crews when they are finishing up may just score the scrap stone you need to make this project.
OK, so long project short; I demolished a sidewalk and lowered the area it was in by about a foot and a half or so. Now I need a way to get into the side garage door. A set of stairs was the only choice but what kind? I could make wooden stairs easily, but would be remaking them years later or possibly have the issue of someone getting hurt when they finally gave way, also I didn't want any little critters living under the stairs as we live close to the great outdoors and critters abound. I could do stacked stone, that was pretty permanent but very costly. Concrete it is.
After some truly back breaking work demolishing a sidewalk, lowering the ground level and adding a few concrete replacements (small set of stairs, retaining wall, etc) I found that mixing concrete the traditional way, with a hoe and trough, to be a good way to finance my chiropractor's new pool. After designing a set of stairs that would be necessary to enter the side door of my house and calculating the 2000 lbs of concrete it would take to make them, I decided it would be best to eliminate/automate as much of the work as possible. Solution: cement mixer.