Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Removing the stump of the Monterrey Oak Tree

 The Monterrey Oak died in the February 2021 deep freeze and we had it cut down in June.  That left us with a stump.

The first step is to clear off all the plants from around it.  We transplanted them, at least temporarily, to various locations, giving us a clear area to work.

Then we start digging around the stump.  The objective is to dig down, cutting off the roots that hold the stump in place.  We hit roots right away.

 But we keep digging.

And exposing more and more of the root structure of the stump.

As we dig, we eventually hit a shelf of solid rock under the stump, and then are able to go all around the stump, down to rock.

Then we put a jack under one side of the stump, and pry it up off the rock and dirt, completely separating it from the underlying rock, so that it can be moved.

Although it is now separated from the earth, it is still much too heavy to be moved, so we apply a wedge to the top and with much sledge hammer work, split it down the middle, and then into fourths.

which allows us to roll the various parts of the stump up out of the pit and produces a big empty hole in the back yard where the stump was.

We believe that the rock layer that was under the tree -- the rock that we have now exposed -- has been removed from the rest of the yard.  So we will dig out until we find the edge of this remaining island of rock, and then remove it, so that we are at a constant depth in the back yard.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Removing the Dead Monterrey Oak Tree

 We planted a Mexican White Oak, or Monterrey Oak, in January 1999, to replace a Chinese Pistache that died.  It grew quite well. 

But it was apparently just starting to bud out in February when temperatures fell below the teens, and stayed there for about a week.  It did not survive.

So I took a day to remove the limbs that I could.

But eventually it seemed too tall for my skills.  So I paid $600 to Maciels Tree Service (who were in the neighborhood cutting down trees for two of the neighbors).  They did a great job.  One worker climbed the tree, always being carefully tethered to the trunk and cut parts off while the other guy used a rope to guide where and when the pieces fell.  They cut it all down, and hauled it all off.

We are left with a stump, at ground level.

So the next step will be to dig out the stump, and remove any rock that was left under it to avoid upsetting the tree which is now gone.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Digging up the back half of the front yard: Putting it all back

 With all the rock removed from the front yard, and the sprinkler line to Zone 11 put back, we can now fill in the holes with the piles of dirt. 

This took a week of work, and then was delayed by rain, which made the dirt too wet to work.

But we kept at it and after weeks of moving dirt, we have it all leveled out.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Zone 11 water supply

When we started to work on the front yard, we destroyed the sprinkler system.  There were two zones in the front yard -- zone 10 from the sidewalk to the neighbors and zone 11 from the sidewalk to the driveway.  Although we only worked on zone 10, the water supply line for zone 11 went across the yard

and so it was removed too.

 Now that the rock and stump excavation is complete, we need to put this water supply  line back.

On the sidewalk side, we have a 1 inch PVC pipe to attach to.

This pipe is 15 inches below the top of the rock wall, which should eventually be the top of the soil.

On the other end, we have the end of the water supply line.  This is a 1.5 inch PVC pipe that (at the moment) has a 90 degree turn and a reducer to take it down to a 1 inch PVC.

This is 21 inches below the top of the wall.

And the two ends are roughly 30 feet apart.

We will need 30 feet of 1 inch PVC, plus a valve to control the water flow, and the connectors to put it all together.

We went to 3 different stores to get all the various pieces we needed ($40.73 + $6.32 + $21.11 = $68.16).  Then we finished digging the trench from one end to the other, using a string to make it straight.  It was about 20 inches deep.

Connection at the one end was fairly easy; we just had to adjust the angle of the joint.

Then we could lay the pipe from that end to the other.

The other end was more complex.  We had to reduce the pipe from 1.5 inches to 1.0 inches, turn it to run across the yard and add the valve to control the flow.  We bought the same model of valve as we used for zone 10.

 Then we attached the electrical wiring that runs back to the controller box in the garage, and put a cover over it.

At this point we had all sorts of problems.  I put the valve in backwards -- there are arrows which say which way the water flows -- so I had to take it out and turn it around.  Then there was a leak right at the sidewalk where it looked like a shovel had sliced thru part of the pipe, so it had to be repaired/replaced.  Finally, it turns out that the wiring for zone 10 and zone 11 was reversed, so it needed to be fixed.

But finally, everything seemed to work, so it could all be buried.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Digging up the back half of the front yard, Part 10

 We keep digging out dirt.

and excavating the rock.

until we are down as far as we want to go.

Then we move over and do it all again.

until finally, we have all the dirt and rock dug out.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Top dressing the back yard lawn

 We continue to try to improve the lawn in the back yard.  The grass was installed in 2014 and 2017, and top-dressed in 2018, so it seems that now is a good time to do it again.

We ordered 4 cubic yards of Screed Organic Compost from Whittlesey Landscape, which, with delivery, came to $293.60.

The back yard lawn is just starting to green up after the Winter.

We use the wheel barrow to move the compost around to the back, and distribute it around.

Then this has to be more evenly distributed by raking it all smooth.

The same was done to the part of the yard between the kitchen and the raised garden.

Rain is predicted to help wash it in and settle it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Adding a Whole House Surge Protector

 Out power went on and off multiple times last week, and while we had no apparent long-term problems as a result, it reminded me that we could.  The main problem with power supplies seem to be surges, and so we have some of our stuff plugged into surge protectors, but things move around, and maybe it would be best to just protect everything.  And I've seen suggestions this can be done at the circuit breaker box with a whole house surge protector.

There was a discussion on NextDoor about this, and several people recommended Grayzer Electric, so I sent them a note. They wanted to know if there was room in our circuit breaker box -- it needs two slots.  So I sent them a picture of the circuit breaker box.

This shows the two empty slots at the bottom, right.

So they came out and installed an Eaton Surgetrap.

They put it at the top, in slots 21 and 22.  These were previously the Stove and Oven circuits, which got moved down to 37 to 40. 

That pretty well fills the circuit breaker box, with the exception of 20, the half slot at the very bottom of the left column.  (Also circuit 26 had a breaker, but is not attached to anything, and the wire inside the box is capped off, but must go to something?)

We now have an additional thing -- the little black plastic box below the circuit breaker box, which tells us the status of the surge protector.

The two little green LED lights at the bottom show it is working correctly.  If there is an issue, those should change.

At the same time, as long as he was already here, we had the circuit breaker itself changed for the Solar Grid Tie in slots 18 and 19.  This had tripped twice in the past few months for no apparent reason, so either it has just aged badly, or there is some other problem in the solar system that we will probably encounter again.

 Both items -- the whole house surge protector and the replaced solar grid breaker -- took about an hour and cost $316.24