Friday, November 20, 2015

Irrigation for the West Lawn Upper

With the Retaining Wall laid out, we can outline where the River of Rocks will go.  Not actually laying it out or putting it in place, but just outlining where it will go, relative to the main area of the West Lawn.

And once we have that in place, we can now look at what we want to do for an irrigation system for the main West Lawn, the Uppers above the Retaining Wall, all the way back between the fence and the River of Rocks.  Most of this is shady, from the Oak tree and the Elm trees.  Our intent is to put in native grasses that are shade-tolerant and drought-tolerant.  Low maintenance.  Our landscape plan says Inland Sea Oats and a Texas Sedge.

So I've designed a irrigation plan that involves a big loop around the area, with a couple of lines run from side to side to put a head in the middle of the area.

First we located the Zone 8 valve

We connected to the Zone 8 valve both to the outer loop and to one of the lines that go from side to side.

The output from the valve is 1 inch PVC.  We attached a 1 inch Tee and then brought those two lines to the same depth as the main lines, reduced it to 3/4 inch and attached it to each of the two lines.   We run 3/4 inch PVC around the entire area.  Every 10 feet (since the PVC lines are 10 feet long), we put a sprinkler head with a 3/4 inch Tee that has a 1/2 inch threaded center hole, which goes to a 2 inch nipple to the irrigation head.

We ran a line along the fence.

and along the new masonry work.

along the Retaining Wall

Then up along where the River of Rocks will be

past the connection to the valve and all the way up to the middle Elm tree.

At the end of both sides (next to the fence and next to the River of Rocks), we just ran a line as far as seemed reasonable and ended with an irrigation head.

And then after all the irrigation heads are in place and things are tested, we can cover it all up.

And we can top this off with the good dirt that we have piled in the middle of the back yard.  This reduces the pile

to nothing.

and fills up the back half of the new West Lawn.

We then sowed about a half a pound of inland sea oat seeds on this good dirt -- between the tree and the fence.  The expectation is that the seeds will act like they fell from their previous inland sea oat plants, lie dormant over the winter and sprout come Spring.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Using a Metal Detector

While digging over the past months, I have run into a disturbing number of rusty nails and other old construction debris.  While I can discard the rusty nails I find, it suggests there might be even more that I am not finding.  I would like to find and remove all (or almost all) of the old rusty nails.

A brief review suggests that a metal detector could find at least some of them.  Metal detectors are normally used to find coins or jewelery and such, but there are settings which will find "all metals".  New metal detectors can run several hundred dollars, but for my purposes, a used one will be fine.  I look on eBay and it appears that good ones go for $50 to $100.  Checking, I find one locally (well, within 50 miles) for $50, and drove down to Kyle to buy it.

This particular metal detector is a Bounty Hunter Tracker IV.

A PDF of a User's Manual can be found on-line.  Since I am still trying to do construction, I have not had time to do more than just try it in a small area, but just 10 minutes in the area near the Iris bed produced a dozen nails.

So this seems like an effective way to find nails in the dirt.  I should try to sweep over the back yard before declaring construction complete.


After almost a year, I've used the metal detector only a handful of times -- maybe 6 to 10 times.  But it has worked wonderfully.  In excavating the bed by the back bedroom, for example, I have found a lot of nails.

So this definitely seems like a useful tool to have occasionally.