Monday, March 29, 2010

Another weekend of digging

Not too much progress this weekend. I got the rocks out of the hole from last weekend, and dug some more.

I've put the rocks out on the curb to get rid of them. Craig's List seems like a good way to get people to come haul them off. They use them as landscape rocks, I assume.

After getting the rocks out, which required using the jackhammer to break several into smaller more manageable pieces, the rest of the time was just digging, and moving the dirt out of the way.

There is a solid layer of rock about 20 inches down. I expect several weeks of just digging, to get the soil cleaned up, removing rocks and mixing in compost.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Starting The Box

The next area to work on is a planter/bed area just off the porch. It was dominated by a large cedar tree, which we had cut down. So now we have a stump to remove. I've started by clearing off all the previous plantings, and removing the little stone edging around it.

Here's what the tree looked like before it was removed.

And that leaves me with the following to work on:

And in particular the stump.

I expect to dig around this until it's isolated and then break it up into smaller pieces to get it out.

After a couple of days of digging, I have exposed a couple of big rocks in a 5 foot by 7 foot hole. I managed to pry the small one out and put it on the stump to get it out of the way. I pried another larger one up on top of another. I may need to break these into smaller chunks to make them manageable.

Under these rocks, about 21 inches from ground level, it appears I have a solid, smooth unbroken layer of rock, so that's about as deep as I can go.

After this work, it has rained, so I can't really do anything more until it dries up. And Spring Break is over, so it's back to digging only on the weekends.

Last work on the Bamboo Grove

I'm off work on Spring Break, and it's stopped raining for a few days, so I was able to go out and shovel more dirt into the bamboo grove. This should fill it back in. The wall is done, and other than needing to bring in more dirt as things settle, the Bamboo Grove is done. All the dirt has been dug up, the rock removed and the dirt quality improved. As the dirt settles, I will probably need to bring in a bit more.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Finishing the Bamboo Grove Wall

I was able to get back to work on the Bamboo grove -- the Cedar Allergies are gone, it's above freezing, and there was a break in the rain. It's been since like November that I was working on this. So first, we have to establish where we were. We need to put a concrete wall, with rock topping under the back fence. We will use the jackhammer to go straight down under the fence. That will provide one side of the concrete wall.

It turned out to be easier to just use the pick axe (really a grubbing hoe) to even it up under the fence. Then it's the standard approach. Staple black plastic on the fence, to provide a water proof barrier on one side. Use a high pressure water hose to spray the bedrock down, to get it as clean as we can. Then put up a masonite form for the other side, keeping them separated by a 1x4 piece of wood. I have all these bags that used to hold compost that I've filled with rock to use as sandbags to keep the forms in place. Then mix up the concrete (I use just 80 pound bags of ready-mix) and shovel it in, removing the 1x4's as each section is filled with concrete. After a couple days, remove the forms.

Another day of mixing up just mortar and using it to put cut limestone rocks on the top, to make it look better than just concrete. Let that dry and we are done.

Now we are ready to fill the space in with dirt. We have a big pile in the bamboo grove, but given the amount of rock we have taken out, we will need to bring in more.

March 6 and 7, 2010

I spread the dirt pile around and filled in much of the area, but still need more for the complete area. I've been mixing in all the leaves from last fall as I shovel the dirt back, so there should be some organic matter mixed with the soil. It's a very heavy clay soil and still very wet. It was marginally reasonable to shovel it in this condition -- it seemed with every shovel full, more stuck to the shovel than was moved. But the forecast says more rain tonight and tomorrow, so this is the best opportunity in a while.

Winter 2010

It's been really wet this winter. And cold. So not much done outside during this time.

I put up a ramp for the dog, to get down from the back porch to the ground. The dog is getting very old (16 or 17 years old) and has developed a limp. She is now having difficulty going down the stairs. So this should make it easier for her. I made it out of two 12 foot 2x4's from Home Depot, plus some leftover siding/plywood from the attic. I ripped the plywood into 18 inch pieces and screwed it down to the 2x4's. Then to keep her from jumping off the side, I put a short piece of siding on the side, Since I had the siding and screws, the total cost was just the $9 for the two 2x4's.

March 2, 2010

The other activity was to trim the trees. The trees are so thick, especially in the front, that the grass is dieing (or is dead). We went with Crawford's Tree Service ( $750 to have most of the trees trimmed. Below is the live oak in the front (named Fuzzy), before and after.