Friday, November 18, 2016

Digging up the Central Backyard

The East side and West sides are pretty well done now, so it's back to the central part of the backyard.


We have mainly been using the backyard as a staging location for the materials for our work -- piles of dirt, rock, and mulch.  But it is time for it to be the main focus of our work.

Our plan is to dig from the West and go down a couple of feet, mixing the dirt with more organic material as we put it back in place after removing the rock.

We begin at the edge of the work on the River of Rocks, first making sure that we know where the main irrigation water supply line is.



and then we continue removing the dirt from the layer of rock along this front.



and more digging.


and more digging.



This will continue for a while.  Let's see if a video can show what we do.

video 

 Eventually, we dig all the way to the wall around the Jungle.


and then we start removing the rock, putting it up on the lawn, to expose ... more rock!


We can use the pry bar to separate out some of the larger pieces of rock,



but we will need the jackhammer to make them into small enough pieces that we can manage.  A day of work with the jackhammer:





followed by a week of moving rock and cleaning up the debris:




yields a new lower level for the yard and a yard full of large rocks which we will need to get rid of:




Monday, October 31, 2016

Edge Trim for the New Raised Garden

With the new raised garden constructed from sheets of corrugated steel, standing on end, the top edges are the most exposed, and are quite sharp.  We need some way to dull them, to prevent cuts and scrapes.

After some looking around, it appears that what we need is an "edge trim".  Searching the Internet, we find a company called "Trim-lok" that makes such things, and has a large variety of them.  We think the steel sheets are about .025 inches thick, which leads us to wanting the 750B2X1/32 edge trim.



But all the documentation discusses a straight edge, not a corrugated (or wavy) edge.  Luckily, Trim-Lok is willing to send us a sample, and trying to install the sample on the corrugated steel sheets shows that it works fine.  Trim-Lok sells it in 500 foot rolls, but we only need 26 feet (the circumference of the 65 inch by 90 inch raised bed).  But they point me to Grainger who carry the 750B2X1/32 edge trim in 25 foot lengths ($34.21).

Then it's down to installing it.  This took more work than I thought.



Mostly it slips on pretty well -- the plastic body has enough flexibility to bend first one way and then the other, back and forth following the curves of the edge of the corrugated sheet metal.  It was a bit like weaving.  Position the edge trim over the sheet metal and then push down to insert the metal edge into the edge trim.

The hardest part was where two sheets overlapped.  At these sections, we have two sheets of sheet metal, but the edge trim is wide enough to just barely fit over them.  We used C-clamps to hold the metal together while putting the edge trim over them.



We first did the back wall, then the East side, the front and the West side.


And once the trim was all in place, we could fill the raised garden right to the brim with dirt.





Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Cleaning up the outside of the Greenhouse Raised Bed

During construction of the Raised Bed where the greenhouse used to be, the sides occasionally collapsed as we built the inner walls from corrugated sheet metal.  For example, here, on the West side:


While we are waiting for the new dirt to be delivered, we figured we should at least even out these areas, and possibly clean out any rock still in the areas adjacent to the new raised bed.

So we started digging out one side.


We dug out until we hit the underground irrigation system and then down until we hit rock.  Then we got out the jack hammer and took out the rock.


We worked our way around the corner and across the back of the raised bed also.  First moving the dirt, and then taking out the rock.


Then we put the dirt back in place.


The last side had to wait a bit; we took delivery of the dirt to fill the raised bed.


And then it rained.  But eventually we got to digging out the front section outside the raised bed.


After a day of jack-hammering, the rock was broken into many pieces and removed.


Then we could fill the dirt back in, and bring in more of the really good dirt that we bought and had delivered, to finish off the dirt on the outside of the raised bed.


We built a step to get up into the raised bed, and then put mulch around the entire area.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Building up the new Raised Bed where the Greenhouse was

With the greenhouse gone, and having dug down about 30 inches, we are ready to create the new raised bed.  We start with a hole in the ground, surrounded a wooden frame that used to be the foundation of the greenhouse.


The dirt sides under the frame provide an avenue for roots and such to get into the raised bed-to-be, and we would like to prevent that.  Plus we need a way to raise the bed over the surrounding ground level, maybe by 10 to 16 inches.

Our solution is to use corrugated steel sheets.  These can be bought in 8 foot lengths, and cut in half will then provide 4 foot lengths.  A 4 foot long sheet can be attached to the wooden frame so that 14 inches is above the frame, and 32 inches then extend down into the ground.

We cut the 8 foot lengths in half by using a thin metal cut off wheel for our hand power grinder.  That works pretty well.  Not a perfectly straight edge, but I can put the cut edge down and bury any issues with that edge -- the exposed, top edge is perfectly straight.

We use standard roofing screws, 1.5 inches long, to attach the corrugated steel to the frame.



Three sheets along the back wall.  The first one put up was bent, length-wise, to fit in the corner, so we have the back wall, plus part of one side wall.  We do the same on the other corner and can continue along the sides.


Then we run into a problem.  Caused by poor planning.  We started at the back.  The ground, even the rock layer that we have dug down to, slopes gently from the front to the back.  So the 32 inches of depth that we have in the back, reduces to less at the front.  The result is that the sheet we want to put on the side, again showing only 14 inches above the frame, hits the rock floor with too much showing above the frame -- 15 to 16 inches -- and won't go lower.  We could get out the grinder and cut each sheet to be shorter.  Or we can get out the jack hammer and make the ground lower (at least in a line under the sheet metal), or we can raise the frame.

We decided to raise the frame.

Doing that, we can then continue around the bed, attaching the sheets to the side and the front.


Three more sheets to attach, and once that is done, we have the complete definition of the new raised bed.



There are a couple of details.  Notice, that the corrugated steel sheets are, well, corrugated, but the frame is not.  There is a special piece of trim sold at hardware stores for this, called a closer.



Before attaching the sheet metal, I first tacked the closer onto the frame, and then screwed the sheet metal thru the closer into the frame.  It turns out the waves of the closer are a bit closer together and more "wavy" than the sheet metal.  So if you force the low spot of the sheet metal into the low spot of the closer, you accordion the sheet metal a bit more and it molds to the closer shape.


The other detail is that the ground around the frame has collapsed in spots.  This is most likely because I dug out a bit too much under the frame, combined with the fact that we raised the frame to get it level and high enough for the 48 inch height of the sheet metal.



We will need to fill in and smooth out these areas, after we fill in the raised bed with dirt.  At this point, the raised bed has some dirt in it, the dirt that we never bothered to remove from the pit after we had dug it out.



We add on top of that all the dirt that we dug out and put in a pile in the back yard, mixed with a lot of leaves and grass.  This gives us a clean back yard



and fills the new bed up almost to the point where the screws are that hold the sheet metal to the frame.


 We still need 14 to 16 inches of dirt to fill the bed to the top.  Since the bed is roughly 65 inches by 90 inches, that means about 2 cubic feet more of dirt.







Monday, October 3, 2016

Greenhouse gone, New Raised Bed

Back in 2012, we got a greenhouse from a neighbor, mostly as a favor to them -- they were selling, the buyers did not want it, and they needed to move it.  We felt it would probably be too hot in the Summer.


And we were right.  For us, it was just blazing hot in the summer (it literally would melt crayons) and not insulated enough in the winter to protect from the cold.  So we listed it on Craig's List and it went away to someone else.



That left the gravel that had been the floor of the greenhouse, but another guy took that, so we were left with just the foundation frame and a slight hole.


What to do with this spot?

Linda decided she might like another raised bed.  Basically build up the sides somewhat more, and dig out the insides to put in good dirt.

So the first step is digging out the insides.  This part of the South Bed has not yet been excavated -- we put the greenhouse in before we excavated all around it. But that just means that as we dig it out, we get both rock and dirt.



and after a couple of days of digging out the dirt, separating the rocks and hauling the dirt off to make space



we have a pile of dirt in the back yard (to mix with leaves and grass to make it better dirt):



a pile of rocks on the driveway (to get rid of)


and a hole in the ground, surrounded by the greenhouse frame.



We have one large rock still in the hole; it's too big to lift and I need to built a ramp or step or something to roll it out.

But this only gets us down 18 inches; we want to go deeper.  So we break out the jack hammer and start taking this next layer of rock apart.


This takes several days.


But we are able to get out this layer of rock.


which gets us down to 32 to 34 inches deep (from the top of the wooden frame).

But we can not get out all the rock -- there is still a layer that is under the wooden frame.  This is only on 3 sides; the East side was apparently taken out when the South bed was excavated.  The other three sides, however, either did not go down as low, or did not get as close to the frame.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Irrigation and the Back Bedroom Bed

There are two parts of the in-ground irrigation system that impact the back bedroom bed.

First, the main irrigation water supply line runs thru the entire bed, about 8 to 10 inches below the surface.  It runs roughly parallel to the back bedroom exterior wall, from 25 to 27 inches from the concrete wall that seals off the foundation.  When it gets to the Iris bed, it's only 12 inches away from the bed.  On either end, it then disappears under the river of rocks.


The other related irrigation system component is for the bed itself.  This is all done in 1/2 inch PVC, as an extension of Zone 9.    We ran a 1/2 inch PVC line right next to the house, with pop-up sprinkler heads that spray out from the house, covering the bed.  Any over-spray will go onto the river of rocks, and water the monkey grass between the rocks.



There are 4 heads equally spaced along the back of the house in a straight line from the corner to the Iris bed.  We jog out slightly to get around the Iris bed stone work and continue to the end of the bed for one last head.  Each head should be just at ground level, and then pop-up 4 inches.  As with our other new beds, we are using the Rainbird 1800 series heads.