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.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Filling in the Back Bedroom Bed

With the foundation wall in place, and the bed excavated down to 2 to 3 feet,


we can now start to fill it back in.  The first thing we did was empty all of the contents of the compost bin into the bottom of the bed.






and now we are filling the rest of the bed with the contents of the dirt pile in the back yard that we built as we pulled the dirt out of the bed in the first place.


The dirt on the pile is still pretty wet from being rained on, making it heavy and hard to shovel.  This is going to take a few days.

And it does, but it's just moving dirt.






And then, once we have all the dirt in place, we can put the monkey grass between the rocks of the River of Rocks along the bed.





The dirt that is in the bed is all just the dirt that came out of the bed, mixed up and blended with leaves and grass to give it more organic content.  We even had a small amount of dirt left over after filling the bed.  Clearly, it will settle and compact over time -- it is currently full of air and leaves that will break down.  So we intend to leave it alone for a few months -- maybe until next Spring -- and then bring in enough good dirt to level it back up after it settles.

But, for now, after starting the excavation of this bed back in April, seven months later, we are done with the bed.

Replace Front Porch Light Switch

The switch for the front porch light (which is right inside the front door) was a timer, set to come on about 8:30 pm and go off about 11:00 pm.   But it broke; it stopped being able to turn things on or off at particular times.  So we looked to replace it.

A search on Amazon, Lowe's and Home Depot web sites showed a small set of such timers, but one seemed particularly interesting.  One problem of using a fixed time to turn the front lights on is that in the Winter it gets dark earlier, and in the Summer it gets dark later.  The ST01 Timer from Intermatic includes an "Astro" feature that knows when dusk (and dawn) occur in your location and can be set to turn the light on at dusk.  So we bought one of these ($34.55 at Home Depot).

First thing we do is remove the old switch


The other switch is for the light in the entrance way.  We end up with two wires to control the front porch lights.

The ST01 Timer comes with a standard paper installation guide, but the documentation on this guide is terrible.  There is a "mode" button that controls what is happening.  As you cycle thru the modes, there are modes that show up that the installation guide does not even mention.   They say to open the battery drawer to install the battery, but it is not at all clear how to do that (until after you have opened the battery drawer).



But it's a light switch, so from an installation point of view, installation is pretty easy.  Attach the black wire and blue wire to the two wires that go to the front porch lights.  The red wire is not used.  Attach the green wire to the ground wires.  Done. 


Bend the wires so that they all fold into the electrical box and use the two screws (top and bottom) to hold it in place.

Oops.  Now we see that the new switch is one of the large rectangular switches, not the small toggle switch, like the one for the front entranceway. So the old switch plate won't fit.  And if we get a new switch plate, we also need a new switch for the front entranceway.  So back to Home Depot, to get a new switch ($1.98) and switch plate ($1.59) for the "Decora" style of light switch.  Remove the old toggle switch and put in the new Decora switch for the front entranceway, then put on the new switch plate.






So that took longer than expected, because of the unplanned for trip to Home Depot for the new switch and switch plate, but things should work better now -- the front porch lights should come on at dusk and go off at 11:00 pm, when we go to bed.  Even if I forget to turn them on.  Or off.


Monday, September 12, 2016

Back Bedroom Bed Foundation Wall, Part 2

Having dug out as much as we are going to, we can clean up next to the foundation, removing loose rock, trimming roots, and spraying it down to wash any loose dirt off. 


Then we can form up for the concrete


The concrete calculator again says it should take about 28 bags of concrete, but this time we are getting 50 pound bags from Lowe's (on special) for two trips of $28.64, a total of $57.28.  Mix them up and pour them in the form.


The next day we can take down the forms.


Monday, September 5, 2016

The Back Bedroom Bed, Part 3

We are continuing the excavation to the bed by the Back Bedroom, after pouring the first part of the concrete wall sealing off the foundation.  A couple of days of digging gets us enough dirt to, when mixed with leaves and grass, fill in the deep area next to the concrete wall.


This also gets us to the point we need to use the jackhammer again, to break up the rock that has been uncovered.


We clean those rocks up.


And continue digging to the end of the bed to expose more rocks.






which brings out the jackhammer to break these up.





And these are also hauled around front to be gotten rid of.


And after another day of digging and hauling off rock, we should be ready to frame the cement wall to run along the foundation.



Monday, August 29, 2016

Back Bedroom Bed Foundation Wall, Part 1

Having dug out more than half of the length of the bed, we have exposed the foundation of the house.  While it may be sitting on rock further under the house, around the edges, it seems to be a mix of rock and dirt.  As with much of the rest of the house, it seems reasonable to seal this off with a cement wall, to keep trees and other plants, or animals, from getting under the foundation.


Using an on-line concrete calculator, we figure we will need about 24 bags of 60-pound concrete.  Two trips to Home Depot gets us 24 bags for $72.48.

Next we frame up along the foundation.


And after two days of pouring concrete and letting it dry, we can take the forms down.


Now it's back to digging out dirt and rocks.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Back Bedroom Bed, Part 2

It's been a couple months since I was able to work in the backyard, but we left off with rocks and dirt that had been excavated, but not cleaned up.


So the first thing to do is to clean this up.  This takes a couple of days.


Then we can extend the excavation, pulling out more rocks and dirt.


At this point, we need to use the jackhammer to break up the larger rocks.


This broke out a large rock from the center of the excavated bed.



To get this out of the pit, we shaped the front edge of the bed by digging out the top part of the dirt, to fill in the bottom part, creating a dirt ramp.  This allows the rock to be rolled up the dirt ramp and out of the pit.


and then we need to dig out that ramp.


After a rain delay, we can remove those rocks,



but the dirt is really too wet to work.  But we can spend the day with the jackhammer and produce a lot of rock that needs to be be cleared out.


Clearing out the rock leaves a well-defined excavation.






We still have dirt and rock to excavate, but this first part looks done.