Perhaps not everyone is as fond of their neighbors as we are of ours, but building bridges, even metaphorically speaking, is a good thing.
Building a bridge across the little stream that separates our neighbor’s and our yard is something we have talked about for years.
Without the bridge we would walk down our driveways and out into the road to get to each other’s houses. We had to leave our dog Daisy behind, because she is strictly forbidden from going near the road.
Earlier this summer our neighbor Susan declared this would be the summer that the bridge would be built. We all agreed to make it happen.
I was working on a landscape design project across town and it involved removing some spruce trees, so I asked the tree guys to save 3 straight trunks of about 15’ in length for me. They not only saved them but they delivered them to our door, along with about 6 other shorter pieces.
They suggested we strip the bark off the trunks to make the wood last longer. It turned out that stripping the bark off is not a difficult project. Cut a line down the trunk with a knife, then push a putty knife or flattened stick under the bark and keep pushing it off.
You can pull long strips with your hands. One 15’ trunk took about half an hour to strip. If the trunks had been sitting longer (6 months or more) it would have been more difficult to remove the bark, I am told.
A Helping Hand
With the help of a young man who works with me in our garden, Eddy, we constructed the bridge in one day. First, we (translate: Eddy) carried the three logs down to the stream and dropped them in place next to each other.
Then we dug up the soil around each end and shoveled some gravel in to help us level the 3 logs. If I hadn’t had a pile of gravel lying around we might have skipped that step, but we felt that a bed of gravel might also help with drainage and postpone rotting of the logs since they’re not sitting directly on the earth.
We considered putting in piers at each corner, and decided against it. Since our bridge is not a bridge of necessity, and it is not going to have very much traffic on it, we opted for the simpler solution. If we were to build a more permanent structure we would apply for a building permit.
Chris went to buy 2X6” boards and sawed them down to size with his circular saw. We decided that they should be 39” wide to achieve the right proportions. The bridge is 15’ long.
After using a level to make sure the 3 logs were lined up evenly, we started to lay down the boards across the logs about ½” apart. We wanted space between the boards to accommodate swelling that will occur, and also so we see the stream underneath as we walk over the bridge.
Chris suggested we nail a temporary board along one side of the boards to keep the line straight and avoid letting it ‘wander’ off course as we progressed. We later took the board off.
“The Friendship Bridge”
While the nails were being hammered on the logs I started landscaping the path down to the bridge from our yard.
On the edge of our yard is a very old red oak tree with wild flowers growing at its base. Next to it is a stand of forsythia bushes. I created an opening between them and cleared a path that wanders down to the stream (about 30’).
We raked along that path and then laid down wood chips. I then lined the path with the extra logs we had from my client’s tree removal project. I’d like to build a natural seat on our side that looks down on the bridge and our neighbor’s yard.
When the job was completed, our neighbors laid out a table and chairs in their yard with a bottle of wine and we toasted our “Friendship Bridge.” Daisy was allowed to join us and we had a lovely time.
- License: Image author owned
- License: Image author owned
Melissa is a content contributor for Womanswork. Melissa enjoys writing about fun activities to do with family and friends, gardening and much more. She tells everyone to check this site out for the best gardening gloves for women.