Sunday, January 29, 2017

Digging up the Central Backyard, Part 1

With the wall around The Jungle finished, we can turn our attention to excavating the Central backyard.

We start by continuing the work that was necessary to do the wall, particularly digging all the way to previous work, behind the Jungle and up to the fence.

This is pretty simple work -- dig down to bedrock, separating the rocks (which we haul off) from the dirt.  Mix the dirt with leaves to increase the amount of organic material in the dirt.  Put the dirt to the side, out of the way of more digging.

We can't dig too far to the left, since we need a pathway to get from the house to the compost pile behind the Jungle.  So we chip away at the edge of the yard

until we realize we need to be more organized about this.  That leads us to draw a couple of lines on the ground.

and we will take off all the dirt to the right of the line, up to the sidewalk, and then start digging across the yard, next to and parallel to, the sidewalk.

all the way over to the yucca plant and the part of the yard that is finished. This is roughly a rectangle 16 feet long and 10 feet wide.

With that decided, we can just start digging.  This takes all our tools -- shovel, hoe, rake, the barrels of leaves, and produces lots of rocks.

and day by day, we get more digging done.

This is exposing another layer of rock that we will need to take out.

Another day gets us all the way to the sidewalk.

Four days of digging, breaking up rock, and clearing it out, gets us to a more finished situation here.

Now we turn to dig across the yard.   First we dig one section.

and then widen that with another section.

and another.

until we have most of it dug up.  There is still a strip next to the sidewalk that is protecting the main irrigation water supply line.

And we stopped before going all the way to the finished lawn because we have hit a very large hole in the rock.  There is an area which was previously dug up where the shin oaks were before they were moved to the South-East corner of the backyard.  We moved them back in February 2011.  So this is a different type of yard to dig up from what we are working on -- dirt on top of rock.  In the section that is yet to be dug up, it should be just dirt.

So for this section, we start with a layer of rock.

and using the jackhammer, we reduce this to smaller pieces of rock.

A couple of days of cleaning up that leaves still a couple of large rocks

which again, with the help of the jackhammer can be reduced to more manageable chunks.

and then cleaning that up

leaves a big new clear area to continue work from.

Next we turn back to the strip going back to the fence.

Note the section to the left of the white PVC pipe, going from the corner back to the fence.  After a few days of digging, pulling out the rock, mixing the dirt with leaves, we have

Friday, January 13, 2017

Finishing the wall for The Jungle

We have a plant bed in the back yard which we call The Jungle.  It was originally developed back in the 1980s to keep some trees and to add some plants around it.  There were two types of plants: something and Nandina.  Over the years (decades), the Nandina has taken over, so it's just the trees and the Nandina, pretty much.

Nandina is a cousin of bamboo, and like bamboo, it likes to spread via its roots.  There is a short stone edging around The Jungle, but the Nandina spreads into the yard by going under the edging.  So as long as I'm digging up the yard anyway, I'm also putting a wall under the edging that goes down to bedrock, to keep the Nandina from getting out of The Jungle.

Previously I did the section by the Bamboo Grove, and by the Bottoms, so there is just one section left.

We dug out the yard around this edge of the Jungle, and kept digging until we hit the dirt that had already been excavated behind the Jungle.

Then we had to clean up the area under the edging -- cleaning out the dirt, the rocks, and the roots.

Then we framed it up to pour a concrete wall under the edging.

We only got half of the area filled the first day

so we framed up the second half and did that the next day.

That finished off the concrete.  It took 16 of the 60-pound Quikrete bags of concrete to build the wall, plus an 80-pound bag of Mason Mix to finish it off.

We used Mason's Mix to smooth off the wall surface and especially the interface between the stone edging and the wall itself.  Also to mortar in a rock in the missing part of the edging at the far left of the photo.