If you've ever looked at photos of an A&W Burger Family, a Muffler Man, or a Bob's Big Boy and thought - "Wow, that would look great in my yard", we'd like to share some tips on how to achieve this lunacy.
First, unless you have a yard the size of the lawn at the White House some sacrifices will need to be made. We've always enjoyed our back yard and even though the planting beds have done well, the grass has always looked like the "before" photo on a box of lawn fertilizer. For us, it seemed completely reasonable to spend an entire Sunday removing every bit of grass in our backyard. Below is a photo of the sod partially removed.
After removing the sod you will end up with a pile ranging in size anywhere between a VW Bug (tiny yard) up to a small apartment complex (normal size yard). This pile will be extremely heavy and will take years to finally compost or dispose of. Plan a discreet place for this new addition to the family before digging.
While your yard is bare soil you will be entertained by the sheer number of robins who arrive daily to enjoy a bumper crop of worms. We usually had around a dozen all day, every day, until we placed the landscape fabric.
After placing the bender board around the yard and putting down landscape fabric we were ready for the gravel. We chose a small, round gravel composed of lightly colored river rock. The round rock won't get stuck in your shoes - a bonus if you have wood floors. We have a fairly small back yard but still needed 4 yards of gravel. Never missing an opportunity to make things interesting we had to wheelbarrow each load from the front of the house, around the far side and into the backyard. The reason for this - our Papa Burger statue that's been with us all along blocks the driveway preventing a short, straight path. We were also treated to a typical Oregon afternoon which included sunshine, torrential rain, hail, and just a bit of thunder. Being veterans of many a day spent outside gardening we knew that by simply having the gravel delivered we had ensured this very type of weather.
One of the hardest parts will be locating the newest member(s) of your family. We were lucky enough to find a recently restored set in Northern California. This set was found sitting in a field in South Dakota about 12 years ago and brought to California. The photo below shows them as they were when we picked them up last week. The second photo shows Baby Burger waiting to be loaded into the truck.
One thing to consider is just how big these guys are. In addition to size, they are also somewhat awkward to move without the help of several people. Since there were just two of us, loading Mama, Teen, and Baby took us around three hours with some tricky maneuvers and lots of luck. For reference Papa Burger is around 8' 6" tall and almost as wide, Teen Burger is just over 7' tall, Mama Burger is right about 7' tall and Baby Burger is almost 4' tall. They require a fairly large truck for transporting them - we used a 14' Uhaul with 7' clearance inside. As you can see Mama Burger fit standing up but Teen Burger was too tall and had to come home laying down. We placed plenty of padding underneath to ensure he wouldn't be damaged. Another thing to consider is that most of these fiberglass statues are now 40 years old and have become somewhat fragile. If you have one shipped by a freight company it would be worth the extra expense to have it properly crated.
We were also doing a show this weekend in Sacramento and had arranged to combine the event with the picking up of the family. Baby Burger was the star attraction of our booth all weekend. The kids loved her and several had their picture taken with her. It's great to see how these statues still make people smile 40 years later.
Here they are waiting to be unloaded. Happily they all made the trip safe and sound...of course there may be some drivers out there wondering who the crazy people were driving 50 mph up the freeway. Unfortunately the one casualty was our neighbor's gutter, which took a hit when we tried to fit the 11' tall truck between our houses. Ironic that we made the 1340 mile trip without a scratch and then crunched the gutter! We'd like to say "thanks" to our neighbor for being understanding and also a fan of the Burger Family:-)
We'll post photos of them placed in the yard in the next few days. We also will be retrieving Papa Burger sometime in the next few weeks. We're looking forward to having the whole family back together again.
We hope you enjoyed the process. If you're considering adding one of these roadside icons to your yard and need affirmation please contact us and we'll help you rationalize the decision.