Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Front Yard part eleven

Sometimes I wonder if this project will ever be finished! As I mentioned in part nine, we have a steep drop adjacent to the house which we have need to deal with. There were timber stairs in this area at one time, but we demolished those way back. We ended up making the slope into several tiers thanks to repurposing some irregular paving slabs and moss rock from the unfinished part of our front yard.

We built a level area at the top of the slope from which we can access the irrigation boxes and the newly-painted gas meter, if we need to.

Below that we built a retaining wall from moss rock and another walkway which leads to the hose shutoff valve. The gaps were filled with ye olde topsoil. 

The slope below this was gentle enough that the new topsoil can be retained with just one row of moss rocks:

With this all buttoned up, we turned out attention to the waste land in front of the lower retaining wall and between the fence and the raised beds:

We gave all the long grasses and whatnot 30 seconds to leave, and those that didn't do one were treated to the fine twine in Amy Sheep's brand new weed whacker.

This is the after the weeds had been whacked and we'd made a pitstop for landscaping fabric, tent pegs and some mulch:

We laid the fabric all the way along the fence and past the gate:

This is later on, after several inches of mulch were spread on top of the fabric. We will be planting in these areas in the Spring, but for now we are hoping this effort will keep everything looking tidy.

We'll be planting ground cover in the area that we didn't mulch in the next few weeks.

Fast-forward to the Friday before Labor Day, and we had a couple of yards of Decomposed Granite (DG) delivered for the walkways and steps - these areas have been a work-in-progress for many months.

The next couple of hours and the first bit of Saturday morning were spent spreading the new DG on the walkways and steps - some of these areas were part-filled some time ago. This process consists of dumping piles from the wheelbarrow and spreading it out with a mixture of the rake and one's plates of meat. 

We did some screeding until the DG was about 80% of how we wanted it. 

By now the pile was looking considerably smaller....

Time for a cold diet coke and 15 minutes sitting on my arris.

While I was enjoying the above noted rest period, I had Amy Sheep run a plate compactor over the walkways - the compactor was too big for her to use on the stairs unfortunately.... I had Amy compact those in the more traditional way:

After all that, it was time for hosing down the DG and re-screeding to get the level perfect - we had to add small amounts of DG to the low spots, remove if from the high spots, and rinse and repeat. This is the result after many sun-drenched hours of intense hard labor. 

The next day Amy Sheep planted ground cover between the paving slabs and at the lower slope.

This is later on. The patch of bare earth in the upper right of the next photo will be covered with topsoil and planted in the Spring. We already have an irrigation line to this area (white pipe at right).

Delilah cam out to help me pack up.

I explained to her that we will be getting rid of the rest of the brick pad in front of the house eventually and extending the DG walkway beyond the gate. The black trash bags you can see in the background are filled with the DG we has left over.

To be continued.....

Monday, September 6, 2021

Basement Expansion Part 8

The basement expansion project has been plodding along at a similar rate to the fil kind-a-slowly. Still, after hunting around behind the metaphorical couch, I managed to come up with enough uninterrupted minutes to cobble together what from now on will be known as episode eight!

Previous installments may be avoided by getting out into the non-cyber world and not clicking on any of the following links:

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Front Yard part ten

We've been pushing to complete the "building" phase of the front yard before we leave for vacation. Hopefully that explains the flurry of blog posts. This particular episode kicks off with installing the last bit of substructure for the steps - in other words the last section of concrete-encased timber. 

By this point I had managed to acquired enough 2" x 6" redwood to convert this:

To this:

We need to get some more river rock to go around the irrigation boxes and cover the unsightly concrete that is still visible in this photo:

Time to connect the two (2) new irrigation valves to the controller. I also took the opportunity to connect the controller directly to the power supply at the back of the exterior outlet instead of just plugging it in. The conduit looks better than a loose cable and should be more tolerant of inclement weather....if we ever get any! There were a number of extraneous holes in the stucco after this operation was complete, which were filled with mortar and left to cure for a week.

The following weekend, after a suitable breakfast of fresh salmon, Russian caviar and quails eggs, Any Sheep was on site and armed with a can of primer and a blunt pair 'ot sithers.

All 'ot primer applied. Time fort put t'ettle on. 

This is later after the first coat of house-color paint was applied over the primer:

Yes, we even painted the gas meter too....

While the paint was drying we moved on to repairing the damage we caused to the weed cloth when we dug our irrigation trench. 

We need to get hold of some more decomposed granite for this area and for the new steps.

The weed cloth extends to the other side of the gate. One of the next things to go will be the rest of the brick patio in front of the entrance.

This is later after the second coat of paint and after the masking has been removed.

By now our raised beds are going nuts: 

The corn is already more than eight (8) feet high:

We also have our first bell pepper:

Carrots and potatoes coming along nicely:

We'll be bringing in topsoil and planting pumpkins in this area in the next few weeks:

We still had a bit of time left on Sunday afternoon so we started clearing weeds, a (mostly) rotten tree stump and other detritus from the area in front of the house. If you look closely in the next photo you can see Delilah checking out our progress.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Basement Expansion Part 7

It might seem like little more than a week since Episode six was aired, but our editor has been exceptionally productive lately and has already churned out what is best described as episode seven!

Previous installments may be avoided by pointing your browser into outer space and not following any of these links:

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Front Yard part nine

As you may have noticed, if you read this blog even on the most occasional basis, we've got two projects going on at the moment. I don't know quite how it happened (or maybe I do and I'm just pretending..?), but this scenario is not exactly ideal. Three or four would be much more like it! 

So...the last time around the perimeter fence had just been completed (not by us!) and we had just finished planting in the two upper beds. Since then, we have finished the lower bed and planted in that too - mainly flowers if you're interested. 

The last thing to figure out is the transition between the gate and the stairs there is a steep drop in the gradient in this area which we never really addressed. Our solution is to extend the steps across the gradient and reposition the boxes which house the irrigation valves. We also wanted to add two (2) more irrigation lines to serve the lower part of the yard and the upper section where we plan to grow pumpkins next year. It was a drag to dig up the valve boxes for the third or fourth time, but this time is definitely the last. For now.

The photo below is after the largest step was installed - it is fastened to the existing steps at the right side and to the supporting structure at the fence at the left. Both ends of the step sit on concrete pads which were not fully cured at the time this picture was taken.

This is the view from the other side. The concrete is contained with a mixture of scrap lumber and expandable foam. It would have been very difficult to install this step with rebar and get it level and at the correct angle. The disadvantage of concrete is that it's messy and takes overnight to properly cure.

I made a platform for the valve boxes to stand on from a mixture of scrap PT and redwood that was left over from the fence - it looks a bit like a digital "8." The platform was a lot stronger and heavier than it looks and was levelled on a bed of road base/base rock.

This is later after we installed the new irrigation valves. 

One of them will go in front of the lower bed and serve the area next to the fence and further down the hill. The other line will go below the steps and beyond the gate.

This is quite a bit later in the project after both lower steps have been constructed and attached to the platform.

The ends of both lower steps and some of the supporting structure was also set in concrete. The sections where the steps meet the platform were strong enough without concrete.

Packing up time: the concrete still needs to cure at this point.

I took the forms off the following day:

This is a couple of weeks later after the irrigation line to what will be the pumpkin patch has been installed below the steps:

I also installed another barrier at what will be the upper side of the central walkway - this one was also installed on top of concrete pads.  

Once the PVC pipe has been installed, we must wait twenty-four (24) hours for the pipe cement to completely cure. After that we tested both new irrigation lines for leaks. Since none were found, we went ahead with backfilling the trenches and the stairs.

After a break to watch the Euro 2021 final (sob...!) the temperature had cooled quite a bit, so I went back outside and installed landscaping fabric over the steps and the walkway and started re-installing the redwood caps. I need to get some more redwood lumber before the steps can be completed.

Next time around I will be doing the wiring for the two (2) new irrigations lines and (hopefully), finishing up the redwood caps. By now all three beds are looking very green:

This is a close-up of the corn and potatoes in the middle bed. So far, our fence has keep the predators at bay!