Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Planting the Front Yard

 Linda has selected a number of native plants and grasses to plant in the front yard.

The bulk of the area is to be a form of prairie grass developed by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  We have sown it over much of the front yard. It is a mixture of Buffalo grass, Blue Grama, and Curly Mesquite.

 Before we were aware of this, Linda had separately sown some  Blue Grama, and so our mix may have more of that than the Wildflower Center.

 In addition, she wants to put a set of taller grasses in the back:  Mexican feather grass, Lindheimer muhly, Bamboo muhly, Gulf muhly and Sideoats grama.  Then we planted some Bluebonnets. 

And she planted a bunch of other native plants:  Blackfoot daisy, Gregg's mist flower, salvia greggi, Barbados cherry, mealy blue sage, purple coneflower.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Final Dirt for the Front Yard

With the sprinkler system and heads installed, we could order the final layer of dirt for the front yard.  Working from the estimated size of the front yard (1370 square feet) and the depth that we were missing to the top of the stone retaining wall (from 2 to 6 inches -- assume 4 on average), we computed we needed 17 cubic yards of dirt.  

Plus we would like to cover the spot in the back yard where the Monterrey Oak had just been removed -- a semi-circle with a radius of 11 feet about 2 inches deep.

So we ordered 18 cubic yards of dirt from Whittlesey Landscape Supplies.  The price of dirt has significantly increased -- $47.85 per yard for the Professional Mix we use, plus delivery of $130 now, for a total of $1073.08.  But they were able to dump it right into the front yard, which put it where it needed to be.

This was followed by several days of spreading the dirt around, trying to level the front yard.

But the front yard is now ready for planting.

There is one problem -- the dirt was dumped right smack on top of one of the sprinkler heads.   But after spreading the dirt out, the head could be easily located by turning on Zone 10, and the missing head pops right up!

And we had a bit of dirt left over for the spot where the Monterey Oak had been.

and to try to smooth out the slope of the lawn where it had been too steep.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Zone 10 -- Front Yard Irrigation System

 In digging up the front yard, we completely destroyed Zone 10 of the irrigation system.  Having finished the excavation, we can now put it back.  We start with a layout of the new front yard.

This was created by using a photo editor on the drone photos from June 2021,

We want to try using a different form of sprinkler head in the front -- one designed to generate less mist.  We selected the Rain Bird 8SAFPROPR (360 degrees) and 8SAPROPR (adjustable) Mini Rotor Sprinklers.

These can cover up to 14 feet.  Then we need heads in the corners.  A couple more along the sides to fill the long runs.  And two in the center to cover everything else.  This gives us a design like:

We can then connect the heads with supply lines.  All the lines are 3/4 inch PVC.  Create a parts list and go to Home Depot to get the parts.  The heads have to be special ordered.  I wanted the "PR" versions which are supposed to be pressure regulated, so that if the water pressure is too high, it still works correctly.  The heads cost $135.13; all the other parts are $87.10

This was followed by a couple of days of trenching.  We do not have the final layer of dirt on the yard, so we don't have to trench as far down, but still the pipes and such should be another 4 to 6 inches deep, to allow 4 more inches of dirt and the standard 8 inch sprinkler heads plus an inch spacer and the pipe itself.

We started on the Western edge.

Then we ran the two lines that go across the yard. 

And then splice in the lines running back to the house

 and up to the street

Once all the lines are in, we installed the heads.

Then we could flush the system and test all of them.

Once it is all in, and the dirt is in place, and we are starting to plant, I ran a test to see how much water it uses.  Running it for 30 minutes, and reading the water meter before and after, it uses 190 gallons, in 30 minutes.  About 6 gallons a minute.  And at 7.5 gallons per cubic foot, we have about 25 cubic feet of water (in 30 minutes).  Spread over 1370 square feet of dirt, that comes to .22 inch deep.  So we need to run this zone 10 about 2 hours to get one inch for the yard.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Re-grouting the Back Sidewalk

The back sidewalk is constructed of Oklahoma Thin flagstones.  While they are cemented in place, there is still a need for some form of grout between the stones.  We have been using a tan polymeric sand.  It has washed out of some places and aged substantially since it was last put in, so it seems time to redo this.

First step was to power wash the stones which washes out the sand and leaves us with a clean, dry, space to fill.

We bought 4 units (at $21.98 each) of Sakrete 40-lb Tan/Brown Paver Polymeric Sand from Lowe's ($95.18 total, including tax).  We found the easiest way to install it was to just pour it on the sidewalk and sweep it over and in the joints using a push broom. Then wet it down with a hose-end spray.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Re-painting the Garage Walls

Back in Sept, 2019, we re-painted part of the East wall of the garage.  Now we have an opportunity to do the West wall.

First we move all the stuff off the wall.  Then we patch the sheetrock and texture.  We put masking tape on all the edges.

Again, we use a brush in the corners and along the edges, then come back with a roller for the main wall areas.  We are using the standard (for our house) Heavy Cream paint color -- an off-white.

Then we can move the shelving units back to the wall.  We want to get the tools up off the floor and easily accessed.  We have a number of vinyl coated hooks,  but we also buy eight tool supports from Home Depot, $.98 each, a total of $8.49 (with tax).

Use this opportunity to clean up and clear out some of the clutter also.

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 then start enlarging this hole, first out into the yard.

And then around to the one side

all the way down to the rock shelf.

Then we turned and dug to the other side.

And we took out the rock wall surrounding the bed.

Then, we brought back all the dirt from the initial digging, mixing it with old leaves and grass.

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.