Sunday, February 21, 2021

Front Yard part seven

Well hello, hello! If you're hoping for an update on the basement excavation project....well all I can tell you is that we're in negotiations with a Top film editor, and, should those negotiations prove successful, then...well, who knows what could happen?

Much more importantly, we have a deadline of ASAP for the completion of our front yard project. We want to do some planting this Spring, for Cliff's sake. Well, let's just clarify that. We don't really have Spring where we live; there's Summer, which starts when the clocks go forward, and we have the other season from late December through to about last week when out first few daffodils popped up. What I'm trying to say, in a somewhat rambling fashion, is that we would very much like to be done with the front yard somewhat pronto, in order that subsequent efforts may be directed toward the basement project. Or something like that.

So, on with the show. Last time around we built a retaining wall and buried the bulk of the PVC pipe that will serve the irrigation system. This time we began by installing the same redwood cap that we used elsewhere at the retaining wall.

Backfilled with a mixture of dirt and rock that came from the basement excavation project. We haven't been able to repurpose as much basement dirt as I was hoping to because it turned out to be essentially rock.

Came out nice:

Time to mark out the location for the fence. You can't really see in this photo, but the green blob in the middle is my laser level. (Incidentally, I happen to know from undergrad that LASER stands for Light Amplified Stimulation of Electromagnetic Radiation).

I set the laser towards the house and marked a dotted line down the hill to the house with my not-so bright orange paint to show where the fence will go. 

The two circles in the photo below indicate approximately where the gate posts will go - the gate will be double width, and will open towards what remains of the brick patio.

In order to facilitate this, another couple of feet of the patio had to make way. I've had so much time on the jackhammer lately that it's starting to feel a heavy, noisy and uncomfortable tool  

This is later: 

More ruble to deal with some time in the this point there is approximately twenty feet of the patio left to remove.

While all that was going on, Amy Sheep was continuing to work on regrading the slope and the walkways between the beds.

These areas need to be reasonably flat before we can install the decomposed granite.

We had to pick up some bags of low-grade topsoil for parts of this exercise - the rock I have been digging out of the basement was unsuitable sadly.

The area where the gates will go was also leveled out and I installed some 6" x 6" timber to keep the dirt away from the house.

That just left the small tree at the top of the hill to deal with - the fence was originally intended to run between the two trees, but we found out that the main water line runs through that particular gap.

A quick wave of the saw-shaped magic wand followed by two shakes of the spade-shaped magic staff, and no more tree! One day soon we will stop digging up plants and start digging some in.

Back to the irrigation system. I dug in the two valve boxes that came with the house and were originally located close to this space. You can see the incoming water line in the lower box. We already had an independent shutoff valve and a backflow preventer from the original irrigation system (the spade is leaning on the latter in the photo below).

The lower box contains just one (1) valve for now. We plan to add at least two more valves/stations in the future, but for now its a simple three raised beds/three valves set up. 

This is the "from a distance" view after all the PVC pipe was connected up and the wiring was done. I installed a new wall-mounted controller and replaced all the wiring between the controller and the circuit breaker panel.

A quick system test all worked perfectly first time. There was a minor leak at the backflow preventer, but a quick seal change (I turned it over!) and no more leak. We still have to construct the in-bed irrigation lines and connect them to the PVC pipe.

Time to fill-in around the valve boxes.....this area is going to need some more dirt that we don't have at the moment.

We made another trip out to get topsoil and used it to fill the upper bed.

The upper level is ready for decomposed granite and a fence:

We need another 30 cubic feet of topsoil for the lower bed.

to be continued in due course....

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Front Yard part six

Just a fence left to do huh! That may have been how the last report on this project ended, but it turned out to be far from true. Here's the thing: we do need to put the fence up before we can plant anything, but we also need to lay down a lot more decomposed granite, probably 50 bags of rich topsoil, and we have a retaining wall to build at the top of the slope. Fortunately, we figured out that if we put the fence up first, all of the above materials would have to be carried down the hill, through the gate, and back up the hill. Once this dawned on us, the fence went back on hold!

So, after another trip to the DIY mecca that I don't particularly like but also choose to spend copious amounts of moolah at, we were stocked up on 6" x 6" PT lumber and road base. I scrounged up some rebar from the other project we're working on right now, and we were good to go with our retaining wall.

We dove straight in to installing the wall - this area was actually dug out right at the beginning of this project

This is a bit later on. The wall was constructed in exactly the same way as the one at the bottom of the hill. We actually had to stop because we ran out of lumber.

Instead of heading out to pick up more lumber, we decided to move on to installing the irrigation pipe. I marked out the locations of the pipe with my new bright orange ground-marking paint, so that Amy Sheep would know where to dig.

We dug our trenches with a combination of the jackhammer and a trenching spade. The spade is only about four (4) inches wide, so it cuts a narrow trench; I had Amy dig down to about eight (8) inches below grade.  

The pipe which serves the upper raised bed had to go under the stairs; we planned for this which is why we haven't installed all of the decomposed granite yet.

I was a lot colder than it looks in this photo...

By the end of the day we had our first (and longest) PVC pipe installed in the trench. We had to down tools at this point because it was getting dark.

The next morning happen to be Sunday, so after our customary lie-in and a quick piece of toast we hit you-know-where to pick up some more 6" x 6" lumber and swung by American Soil & Stone for our first batch of topsoil. Once back at the ranch I had Amy finish up the retaining wall quick smart.

Not too bad! The area between the wall and the raised bed will be getting the decomposed granite treatment before too much longer.

This is a bit later on after we installed the other two irrigation lines. We haven't quite figured out the valve box set up yet, so for now the pipes terminate close by.

We also left plenty of excess pipe at each of the beds.

It was a lot easier filling in the trenches than it was digging them.

This section was left open for now.

We finished up by tossing twenty cubic feet/ten bags of topsoil into the middle bed. We would have picked up more, but the van was partially filled with 6" x 6" lumber at the time.

To be continued....eventually...

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Basement Expansion day 2

As you are probably aware by now, if you read this blog regularly (and if you don't you should!), the Basement Expansion project is video-only. Time will tell if future projects will be video or back to the old school photos, and one of the deciding factors will be the amount of time I have available to edit the videos. Having said that, I think anyone who sat through episode one will appreciate the leaps in editing technique that are on show in Episode 2 - click this link to check it out!

Monday, February 1, 2021

Basement Expansion day 1

It's been more than a month since the Ent Mix video was (originally) published, and you might be forgiven for imagining that it's been quite on the d.i.y. front since then....but you would also be wrong!  Over the last few weeks we've been working very hard on our basement excavation project, and even harder on editing the videos. Wait, videos? Well yeah, that's because the Basement Expansion project is my first stab at using my new GoPro. So, without further ado, if you click on this link you'll get to experience the opening episode!