The Dreamer Load

Any idea what weighs 45 tons?  Hmm… let’s ask Google that question…

this GE switcher/4-axle diesel locomotive...

this whale, who had an unfortunate run-in with a cargo ship...

the crane that took out this house (yikes!)...

and (of course) the world's largest time capsule...

So, perhaps that puts into perspective the “Dreamer Load” dumped on our yard…

these two piles represent about half of our load

That, my friends, would be 45 tons of landscaping rocks.  So, why would we subject ourselves to this rock invasion?  Well, we have a few good reasons:

1) We live in the desert – so grass is not only difficult to keep alive, it requires a lot of water – which is a precious resource in these parts

2) The city we live in offers a rebate if we convert our grass into “desert-scape” that requires less water

3) Desert-scape landscaping is easier to maintain

4) We think the rocks – with some soon-to-be-added desert plants – add to the southwest charm of our Dream

So, with that decision made, we headed out on a field trip – to rock quarries – to check out the rock options.  What we found was a dizzying array of choices.  First, we had to pick a color:

(work with us here... we have yet to invest in photo shop)

Then, we had to pick a size…

size matters

We both agreed on the size, 1/2 inch screened.  Too much bigger looks chunky.  Too much smaller looks dirty/sandy.  However, we did disagree on the color.  Mr. Dreamer preferred a red tone, while Mrs. Dreamer leaned towards brown.  In the end, Mrs. Dreamer proved most persuasive and we went with Apache Brown.  It’s not the cheapest rock available – but we decided that this was a job we only want to do once and we might as well spend a bit more cash on a color we really like – instead of the cheapest one.  It ended up looking very nice and we’re quite pleased with the choice.

With that decision made, now we needed to know how much rock it would take to cover our yard.  From the professional estimates we got, we knew that 1 ton of 1/2″ rock covers 120 square feet with a two-inch depth.  But how much square footage are we working with???  To find out, we used a super-cool website,, for free! (One “pro” offered to do the exact same thing for us for $250.)  We just walked around the perimeter with measuring tape, sketched out what we planned to do, plugged in those numbers and voila! Here’s what it looks like:

our lot is 1/5 of an acre

The brown areas are where we planned to put the rock.  This program allowed us to calculate the square footage of just that area.  Turned out to be 5,400 square feet – plug that into the earlier equation and it turned out we needed 45 tons!

So, now we knew the color, size and amount of rock needed – we just needed to pull the trigger and make the purchase.  We thought that by skipping the fancy landscaping show rooms and heading straight to the quarries, we could cut down on the cost.  We were wrong!  The average cost for the Apache Brown rock we wanted at those places was $45/ton.  So, Mr. Dreamer took to one of our favorite websites, Craig’s List, to hunt down a better deal – and we got one!  For just $33/ton – we were able to buy the exact rock we needed through an independent trucker.

we highly recommend Justin at Phoenix Materials, Inc!

Our order took two double-dump truck trips… and the delivery drew our neighbors out into the street to check it out… who doesn’t love watching big machinery at work?

Check out video of the action here.

In his wake, Justin left behind four HUGE piles for us to work with…

the tough part is about to begin

The rocker-pro’s who so willingly offered us free estimates on our dreamscaping… were going to charge us $25/ton to spread the rock.  With 45 tons, that’s $1,125!  (Yes, that’s in addition to the cost of the rock itself.)  That was a bit steep for us…  So, we managed to convince some (totally awesome) friends and family to come over and help us.  With our eight-member crew, we were able to spread most of the rock in one Saturday – and all we had to pay for was breakfast and lunch… SCORE!

But before we could spread the rock… we had to demo the yard…

bobcat vs. random brick fence eyesore

clearly, the bobcat is the winner here

the bobcat also scraped away the struggling lawn

the sections the bobcat couldn't get to had to be hacked away by hand

Once those areas were clear, the back-breaking job of shoveling and raking all 45 tons of rock into place began…

mr dreamer shows us how it's done

Not too many pictures of this phase, since all 8 sets of hands were working hard.  We were all quite impressed with what we were able to accomplish in one day!  Keep in mind that this is still in the “during” phase of our dreamscaping process… but here are some after shots of the great rock dump…

Look pretty blah?  Actually, that was our goal during this phase.  We needed to get our long-neglected foreclosed-upon yard back to a blank slate so we could start from scratch.  Next up:

the plants we selected to dress up our rocks

But first, I fear some rambunctious bulldogs may take over the blog to tell their side of the story…

huh? did someone say bulldogs?

*Rail car photo found here, Whale photo found here, Crane vs. House photo found here, Time Capsule photo found here.

About Michelle Fortin

Michelle Fortin is a follower of Jesus, a wife and a mom. She's also an award winning broadcast journalist and public relations professional. Michelle spent nearly a decade working in television newsrooms across the country, both behind and in front of the camera. Training future broadcast journalists in her faculty associate roles at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University and at Arizona Christian University was a cherished focus of her post-TV career. Today, she maintains a roster of public relations clients focused on empowering fellow “momprenuers.” She also serves as a speaker for various women's and mom's events. Michelle received her bachelor’s degree from Biola University and Master of Mass Communication (MMC) from Arizona State University. She and her husband, two young kids and English bulldog call Scottsdale, Arizona, home.

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