Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Trimming the Trees

We had our trees trimmed yesterday.  We have this done occasionally.   It's not cheap.  Looking back we did this in

10/21/2001    Arbor Tech                              $503
4/27/2005      Arbor Tech                            $1300
3/2/2010        Crawford Tree Service           $750
7/21/2015      Better Price Tree Service       $900

So it looks like we do this about every 5 years.  This year was much like other years -- 3 or 4 people show up and swarm over the trees, trimming off dead limbs and keeping the trees away from the house.  We like trees, so our objective is to keep the trees alive and happy, otherwise we are not trying to control the trees.

And what are our trees?   The live oak out front is "Fuzzy".

The other large tree in the front is "The General", a Spanish Oak.

Nestled under The General, at the corner of the house is a small Mountain Laurel.

In addition, in the front yard, we have two ornamental Bradford Pear trees that shade both our driveway and the neighbor's driveway.

and behind the Bradford Pears are a stand of Crape Myrtles (Watermelon Red).

There is one more Crape Myrtle (Dallas Red) between the garage and the front door.

If we go into the back yard, over by the River of Rocks, we have the "Three Sisters" Drake Elm trees.

And back a little further in the back yard is another Live Oak

We also have a few Shin Oaks left from before the house was built.  One sits right in the middle of the River of Rocks in the back yard.

There are more Shin Oaks in the Jungle, plus a couple of other trees -- one a White Oak.  It's difficult to get a picture of any of these trees individually, what with the Bamboo Grove and the other plants in the Jungle.

We have two other Shin Oaks, in the other corner of the back yard.  These were originally in the middle of the back yard, but we moved them, and they seem to be happy in their new location.

On this East side of the house, the Monterry Oak  is the largest tree.

Its companion outside the kitchen window is the Chinese Pistache.

Of course, we also have our two Olive trees (which may or may not work out with our cold weather winters):

And our latest addition, intended to provide shade for the middle of the back yard, our Pecan tree.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Actually building the River of Rocks (Part One)

The idea of the River of Rocks is fairly simple; the actual construction of it has been much more difficult.

First I have had to scrape out the path for the River of Rocks, digging down enough to make the path level.  Then I put the rocks in place, to see how they would fit together.

I'm using a string here to help me keep the rocks level.  Some of the rocks are thicker and some are thinner.  Each rock has to have the dirt under it dug out to accommodate that specific rock, so that it lies flat and stable and at the correct height, so that the path is (mostly) level.

Once that is done, I poured dirt over it and raked the dirt down into the spaces between the rocks. Then I saturated the entire area with water, to get the dirt to settle down, and flow under the rocks.  I think there are a couple of the smaller rocks that will need to be "raised" up a bit (probably less than half an inch) once everything settles, but for now it's looking pretty good.

This is thick, rich dirt which we have been saving from the truck load that went into the raised garden.  It should be excellent dirt for the mondo grass to be transplanted into.  The mondo grass will fill the spaces between the rocks (after everything settles and dries).

This is the first section of the River of Rocks.  Since this process seems to be working, I will continue it from the A/C compressor down to the end of the house.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Liriope and Monkey Grass Beds for the West Lawn

When the cable people tore up the Monkey Grass by the greenhouse, it seemed that we should replant what we can over in the West Lawn.  That is closer to what was intended; planting it by the greenhouse was supposed to be just temporary.

The first step is to build up the bed that we dug up.  It has the native dirt, mixed with leaves, grass and compost, but it will settle.  So we first put on a thick layer of the good dirt we are storing in the backyard.

Then we can transplant the Liriope that was left on the wrong side of the river of rocks up by the fence into this bed.  It's a little sparse, but should fill in over time.

That leaves the area on the other side of the river of rocks by the fence empty.

We can build this up with better dirt from the backyard pile and then plant the monkey grass that was torn up by the cable people.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Cable Repair

 One of the neighbors had problems with their cable service.  The cable company (Time Warner Cable) came out and ran a cable down the fence as a temporary fix.

Yesterday (July 2), a crew came out to bury the cable.  The cable company has taken a longer-term approach and the current policy is to bury a 2 inch plastic conduit (at least 18 inches underground), and then run the cable thru that conduit.  Same sort of thing that we did to run the cable from their cable box/pedestal to our house.

So the plan was to bury a conduit from our current cable box/pedestal the entire length of the backyard to the neighbor's yard.  This of course tears up the grass (Zoysia Palisades) that we planted (last year?), has to go under the stone wall, thru the South bed, under the monkey grass by the greenhouse, and then thru the concrete wall under the stone edging.

 The lawn part went pretty well.  They avoided the sprinkler system along the fence.  As the photo shows, this really tore up the lawn along the fence; we will have to see if it fills back in.

 We disassembled the stone wall to allow them to lay the conduit underneath.  They helped put it back together, but the rocks are in a different order.

The South bed was more difficult.  It has an underground drip irrigation system.

and although they may have avoided destroying the lines themselves, they broke the connections to the lines.  I will need to repair those lines.

Plus the monkey grass was dug up.  It seems this should be taken as an opportunity to move it to the West Lawn, at least the parts that were dug up.

And we will need to repair the cement wall, now that the conduit is in place.

Trying to put things back after they were gone, I discovered that they broke one of panes of the greenhouse.

After we poured new concrete to repair the cement wall, and topped it off with new mortar work to hold the white limestone blocks in place, we turned our attention to the underground drip irrigation lines that were broke.

 There were two lines that were broke, one East of the greenhouse and the other West of the greenhouse.  Both were broken at the T-junctions where the underground drip lines intersect the water supply line.

So we replaced the T-junction piece and the line in-between the two T-junctions.

I'm not sure how we would detect if there are other places where the underground drip lines are broken, but at this point we think we have repaired them all.

At this point we can put all the dirt back.  Now we just need to water the plants to try to get them to re-grow and repair the bare spots and lines.

Note: the cable company finally came out and put the line thru the conduit in February 2016.