August 17, 2009

Price Gouging. Or, Why Parents Are Suckers

I am sometimes very naive. Latest example...

So, we got the playset - you remember playset, right? It was moderately expensive and the fee for having three men dick us around for a month then finally cobbling it together was nominal, though certainly more than I'd care to part with on any regular basis. Like a fool, I naively dusted off my hands and thought we're done. But no.

See, to make these things safe, you have to load a ton of mulch around them, six feet in either direction and to keep said mulch in place, from blowing all over your yard or smothering small woodland creatures, you have to have a nice, tall border. For some strange reason, I didn't not envision this as an opportunity for someone to make more money off of me. Silly.

Did you know that rubber mulch - it's cool, it comes in colors, and is made from recycled tires so that your kids bounce after a fall - costs about a trillion dollars per cubic yard? And I don't know quite how many cubic yards we'd need because I'm not good at math but I'm guessing somewhere between 1 and 1.5 metric dickloads. And the border? Turns out, depending on what kind you want, that's about a hundred bucks per millimeter. And ours would measure somewhere around 140 feet.

I decided, therefore, to do everything myself. This weekend, I made not one but two trips to Home Despot (that was an intentional spelling error, FYI) and packed the car with more lumber than I thought it could carry. $300 later, I secured myself an eight-hour yard gig. I am tired, burned, and incredibly sore but we now have 140 feet of 10 inch high border, a mostly dug-up yard inside the perimeter, and sheets of weed-preventing fabric covering the ground. All awaiting mulch. Not the dead-tire kind. The dead-tree kind. The dead trees are much cheaper. It turns out I'm something of a fair-weather environmentalist.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to hobble to the kitchen to get some more coffee and maybe some Advil. I am, apparently, cheap and old.

And how are you this Monday morning? What did you do with your weekend?

Posted by Chris at August 17, 2009 6:33 AM
Comments

Could we have a photo? I'm not good at math either and I'm having trouble picturing 1.5 metric dickloads.

Posted by: Marshall at August 17, 2009 7:10 AM

Good morning, Chris!

I did some gardening and played with my camera this weekend. My allergies are winning our on going battle.

Posted by: MariaV at August 17, 2009 7:15 AM

You haiku? I think I totally gave the wrong url. Now that clarifies the morning substitution.

We are a DIY family - siding, windows, kitchen, bathroom, treehouse, deck, etc. It's damn hard work! I can empathize, but kuddos to you! As for the cute rubber mulch, be glad you went with dead tree. Not only is the rubber outrageous in cost, but when you don't need the mulch or the playset because your kids are older, would you have a use for blue (example) mulch in your flower beds? Around here, you can't recycle the rubber mulch.

Posted by: Theresa at August 17, 2009 7:21 AM

I'm wirh you on fair weather environmentalism.

We went to Mammoth Caves in Kentucky - beautiful, but I'm sore! Over 1000 stairs in two tours.

Posted by: Michele at August 17, 2009 7:27 AM

Awesome. Now maybe you can invite others over so we don't have to do the same thing in our backyards. You could charge admission.

Posted by: NG at August 17, 2009 7:31 AM

I've never really understood the whole concept of mulch under a swing set. It seems much more comfortable to fall off onto some nice soft grass than a pile of wood chips that poke you and stick to your knees. Although the rubber stuff sounds kind of cool.

Posted by: Traci at August 17, 2009 7:59 AM

So, good choice going with the old school mulch. A lot of people have used the old tire kind, and don't like it, as it stains kids clothing. Also, there are studies that are saying the fumes from the old tires are not good for kiddos as well. Now, I don't know if that last part is true, but my mother-in-law says it, and so it MUST be true. Of course, she also believes that our cat will suck the life out of the baby if we let him into the baby's room, so....you decide.

Happy Monday to you!

Posted by: Wendy at August 17, 2009 8:01 AM

So, good choice going with the old school mulch. A lot of people have used the old tire kind, and don't like it, as it stains kids clothing. Also, there are studies that are saying the fumes from the old tires are not good for kiddos as well. Now, I don't know if that last part is true, but my mother-in-law says it, and so it MUST be true. Of course, she also believes that our cat will suck the life out of the baby if we let him into the baby's room, so....you decide.

Happy Monday to you!

Posted by: Wendy at August 17, 2009 8:02 AM

I giggled at "Home Despot" as I've been calling them that for years. Out loud, so I get people looking at me like I've lost my shit. But I get that a lot anyway.

Using tree-mulch causes new trees to be planted & grown and farmed. It's when they're new and growing rapidly that they're the most active at oxygen production, so we're cool.

Posted by: harmzie at August 17, 2009 8:18 AM

I'm a bit of a fair-weather environmentalist too, but I try to not let people know about it.

My husband and I spent the weekend with colds...and we leave for vacation on Thursday! It wasn't all that pleasant of a weekend...better living thru pharmaceuticals!

Posted by: daisy at August 17, 2009 8:34 AM

Why not sand? Isn't that what was at our schoolgrounds when we were kids. We use the rubber mulch around the house foundation as no bugs (termites) go after it. But yeah it's pretty expensive.

Posted by: Dee at August 17, 2009 8:57 AM

I worked on a constrictingly tight budget for flipping a house, and (consequently) discovered that craigslist is my best friend.

Posted by: Amy at August 17, 2009 9:47 AM

Is a dickload more or less than a bushel? Or is it more like liquid measurement?

Posted by: Knot at August 17, 2009 10:08 AM

Dude you are the Mulch King!

My weekend was more fun than yours, which apparently wasn't hard to do.

We went to the Central Park Zoo, played in the playgrounds, got a magic wand balloon, went to the Met to see the medieval drawing exhibit (the child was supposed to be asleep by then but she wasn't) then the next day we went to the beach. Then did laundry.

I'm still tired. And I also got sunburned.

Posted by: jessica at August 17, 2009 10:18 AM

I high-tailed it to my dad's in Manasquan NJ (my old childhood stomping grounds :-) to get the heidi-ho out of here before I lost my cookies!
Mental health weekend!
Our wedding is 12 days away (which is definitely exciting but holy hyenas am I wired!) and my oldest and super dear to me kitty died suddenly and yet not (she was sick and took a rapid turn) but died right in my arms on Thursday. She and I had a super close bond and she was one of those rare pets that seems more human than animal.
I spent the weekend spending time with my dad, working on the seating chart, studying up for a new job, biking, and walking on the beach :-)

It sounds like you had a very industrious, creative, laborious, and productive weekend! Looking forward to seeing the pics of your mulch pit job!! The kids are going to have the times of their lives out there on that playset :-) Awesome idea Chris and Beth!!

Posted by: Karen at August 17, 2009 10:50 AM

Stick with measuring with imperial dickloads... the numbers seem smaller that way...

Posted by: cyniclite at August 17, 2009 11:15 AM

Good gracious, that's a lot of work! Dislike!

Posted by: Zandria at August 17, 2009 11:21 AM

We bought a second home several years ago. A very cool 1920's house on 3/4 of an acre. It had not been loved for some time, so major renovations were in order. We quickly came to call it "The Money Pit" Having a teen, I can also assert that children are major money pits , as are dogs, lol!
My advice for anyone just finishing school - do not move out of your parent's home. Squat in their basement and do not have children or pets! Just kidding - well, sort of!

Posted by: LaineyDid at August 17, 2009 11:24 AM

I decided to wash the dogs and slipped in the tub and fell. Yeah, I am either getting old or the damn dogs planned this revenge. Not sure which.
There are parts of my body that are so bruised and sore.
But the stupid dogs are clean!
(Not that they really need the bath, I'm just a glutton for punishment like that!)

Posted by: Maribeth at August 17, 2009 11:42 AM

Ouch! Well, just think of the money you saved. :)

I happened to snag myself a gig working Sundays at a cool independently owned toy store. Of course it was nothing like what you did, but after being on my feet all day with a 19 year old counterpart, I felt the same way. Tired and old.

Posted by: Scattered Mom at August 17, 2009 12:00 PM

I too am burned and tired. In my case, it's because I spent the weekend at VA Beach with 4 friends from high school, three of which I had not seen (other than on Facebook) since 1985. The good news is that I apparently can still start drinking at noon, not quitting until the wee hours of the next calendar day, and still be up by 8 AM feeling pretty damn good. The bad news is....hell, with a day like that there is no bad news.

The bad news for you is that the dead tree mulch will mysteriously disappear and you'll need to dump another metric crap load of it next year.

FWIW, when we lived in Leesburg on a tiny 1/10 acre lot, the playset took up 70% of the back yard. I was unwilling to wood chip the entire yard, so I left it as lawn grass under the playset. Both kids survived.

Posted by: COD at August 17, 2009 12:44 PM

I never understood why falling on bits of splintery wood is better than falling on the ground...

Posted by: caleal at August 17, 2009 2:13 PM

Does this mean that your services are for rent? We went redneck in the front yard and pulled out the inflatable pool and a few beers.

Posted by: DCUrbanDad at August 17, 2009 2:59 PM

When I worked at a daycare, we had to have regular mulch deliveries. And that was one of the things the state inspector actually checked on, she'd pull out the ruler and measure that we had the proper amount of mulch. It was def an expense.

Posted by: patricia at August 17, 2009 5:59 PM

I don't get mulch either -- I had a swing set in my yard that was much smaller than your playset (and only one storey!), and we never had mulch. Then again, I did get my fingernail crushed in the teeter totter (it grew back).

Are you *sure* this isn't a conspiracy on the part of mulch companies?

Posted by: Kat at August 17, 2009 10:18 PM

Who's gonna know if you don't do it?

Posted by: Surfer Jay at August 17, 2009 11:01 PM

Who's gonna know if you don't do it?

Posted by: Surfer Jay at August 17, 2009 11:01 PM

Who's gonna know if you don't do it?

Posted by: Surfer Jay at August 17, 2009 11:01 PM

is it bad that i can't even remember my weekend? like a dumbass, i've taken on watching a 10 month old on top of already keeping my own two kids alive (a 7 month old and 2 year old. so weekends? what's a weekend? OH YES, it's the time where i lay on the floor and let my own kids do whatever they want because mommy can't move more than 2 inches without wanting to diiiiie.

Posted by: SUPAHMAMA! at August 18, 2009 1:17 AM

Also a fair weather environmentalist here. To think that my negligent parents had me playing on the LAWN of all places as a kid! The HORROR!!!

Srsly though, that rubber mulch sounds cool. Apparently they are putting a rubber floor in new playgrounds around here lately. I'm seen partial ones but then they cover them up with rocks anyways. Now they're just doing the rubber floor thing. No border needed, kids bounce and I can take my wheelchair bound monkey running around under the structures without breaking my back. It's probably also about a trillion dollars though.

Posted by: Miss Fae at August 20, 2009 1:37 PM

I'm with Marshall. Where is Beth and the camera when we need her most?

Posted by: Mr Lady at August 23, 2009 12:25 PM


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