Today we set the posts for the pergola in their holes, squared them up, and poured the concrete footings for each one. It was wonderful - we had a lot of volunteer help and it made the whole project a lot easier. Gabe surprised us by coming up from Olympia for the holiday, and he really pitched in. Dave and Anita came out and brought friends, Pete & Nancy from California, who also helped make the day a great sucess. Here's what we did:
Once the post holes were dug, it took 3 people to muscle these giant 14-foot 6x6s upright and into position. (Yes, I realize we are probably ovebuilding this pergola. But its better than worrying about having it collapse under a heavy crop of hardy kiwis!)
Once the level said it was standing up straight, two guys could hold it while another measured off the distance to the other posts. Here, Pete & Dave hold one steady while Gabe uses a lever to get it closer to the correct alignment. It usually took several such adjustments to get it into just the right position before bracing it. On the final check, we were off about 1" between our two diagonal measurments - which we decided was plenty close enough to square for garden architecture.
Once all the posts were braced upright (and a round of beers), the guys got down to mixing & pouring the concrete. Dave had brought over his little electric cement mixer, which worked like a champ. First you dump in a bag or two of ready mix...
...add some water, turn it on...
...stir around with a metal bar to check the consistancy,
and pour! It was amazing how fast all four post-holes were filled. Note the rebar sticking up from the concrete in the hole - it was pounded pretty far down into the clay bottom of the hole for additional reinforcement. (Overbuilding? Us? Not a chance.)
Being able to pour the concrete straight into the holes from the mixer was wonderful, so much more civilized than the wheelbarrow-and-shovel method we've always used in the past. And now for the finishing touch:
We followed up all the work with a nice bbq dinner, sitting outside in a shady spot on the lawn. All in all, pretty much a perfect 4th of July.