Monday, August 26, 2019

Moving the Front Bed to Zone 9

We are re-defining almost everything in the front yard.  Originally the front yard had two irrigation zones:  Zone 10 to the West of the sidewalk and Zone 11 to the East of the sidewalk (between the sidewalk and the driveway).  While we are keeping this basic idea, we also wanted to consider the beds.  There is an existing bed in front of the house, between Zone 10 and the house, which now expands and runs into the area near the gas meter -- from the house to the West property line, and from the fence gate to the retaining wall.

While all the other zones are behind the fence, it seems to me to make sense to extend Zone 9, which is a set of beds from the backyard deck around to the West side of the house and up to the fence, to extend this Zone 9 to include the front yard beds by Zone 10.

There is already one head for Zone 9 in front of the fence, by the gas meter.

We can tap into that line to get Zone 9 water.

Currently the front bed gets it's water from Zone 10 via a pipe that runs under the stone wall defining the front bed.  We can cut that, and cap off the line going to the bed sprinkler heads.

Then one end of the front bed irrigation line, close to the downspout for the gutters that runs into the French drain, went to a head in the yard, which we have already removed.  If we run a line from the Zone 9 head by the gas meter to this end of the front bed lines, we will have moved them all to Zone 9.

So we dug out from the end of the front bed lines around the corner of the house and then down parallel to the side of the house -- 16 inches from the foundation -- to the Zone 9 head.

At the Zone 9 lines, we cut it and inserted a T-fitting.  Then a 10-foot section of 1/2 inch PVC.  At that point, we put in a sprinkler head, for the bed here by the side of the house,  and then continued to the corner.

At the corner, we turned around the corner and connected to the end of the front yard bed irrigation heads.

While we were doing this, we also ran a line diagonally to the other side of the bed, to the partition wall, to help get all of the new bed behind the retention wall.

This gives 3 heads to water the extension of the River of Rocks between the retention wall and the fence, and between the house and the neighbors yard.  This will include the first elm tree, the monkey grass between the rocks of the River of Rocks, and any other plantings in this area.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Front Yard Irrigation Water Line

While working in the front yard, I had originally destroyed the main water supply line which provides water for Zone 10 (the West side of the front yard) and Zone 11 (the East side of the front yard).  So I rebuilt it and ran it out into the trench parallel to the new gas line -- about 2 feet from the partition wall that separates our yard from the neighbors and down 2 to 3 feet.

But as we began to fill in the trench, it became obvious that I needed to finish out the base irrigation, lest it get buried and become difficult to find.

The original intent was to find the value for Zone 10 and move it, but continue to use it for Zone 10.  First I needed to find that value.  I could follow the old main water line.

So I dug along that pipe, but came upon the value a bit sooner than expected and effectively put a pick ax thru it. 

So I bought a new zone value -- an Orbit Jar Top Automatic In-line Valve.

And then ran new 1.5 inch PVC pipe up to where the valve is placed to connect it close to the partition wall.

I wired it in and tested it out. 

It is about 9 inches below the top of the wall, in a circular valve box with a green cover.

 After the main line leaves the zone controller valve for Zone 10, it turns and will cut across the yard to provide a 1 inch water supply (and wiring) for Zone 11 (eventually).

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Base of the Front Yard Retaining Wall

We want to improve the soil in the front yard, to give it more depth and less rock.  But we cannot get too close to the roots of the big trees in the front.  So for the large Spanish Oak, we are going to put in a retaining wall allowing us to bring in more soil for it's roots.  The retaining wall basically replaces the existing wall between the yard and the front bed (which runs along the front of the house from the door to the corner of the house).

The idea is that this wall starts near the front door about 3 courses of stone high -- some 18 inches -- and then decreases as it runs across the yard until it meets the wall on the edge of the property (that we just put in) at just 4 inches above ground level.

But, of course, that means it runs right thru the trench near the corner of the house.  And all that has been dug out.  So we need to put back a new wall support underneath what will be the ground level.

We could do a solid wall, as we have elsewhere, but in this case, we do not want to impede the flow of water thru the ground to the French Drain, which is just on the other side of the new wall.  We begin with a lower level of large cinder blocks.  These are 16 inches tall by 8 inches deep and 8 inches wide. 5 of them at $1.68 each from Home Depot.

We space them out and put a layer of thinner concrete blocks (only 4 inches tall but 16 inches wide) on top, to form most of a surface that we can put a concrete base on, and then 6x6 limestone blocks.  It appears we can put two rows, or courses, of 6x6 limestone blocks to get even with the property line wall.  The bottom course will be underground, and probably a portion of the top one, when we eventually fill things back in with dirt.

Once we have the cinder blocks cemented and mortared in place, we can form up both in front and behind them, and pour a pathway of concrete.

This creates the first part of the concrete base for the retaining wall.  We extend it across the yard by digging up the next section of the front yard near the corner of the house.

And then we can dig out all that dirt and rock.

And again cement and mortar in 8x16 inch cinder blocks with a 4-inch cinder block spanning them to create a solid bridge, which I can pour concrete on top of.

Excavating the middle of the trench

Having finished the trench all the way to the street, we now turn back and look at the next section -- the middle of the trench.

The middle section of the trench has two layers of rock.  Towards the top is a layer of white hard limestone, and under that is a layer of softer reddish marl limestone.

First we remove the lower level of reddish marl limestone.

And then we break up the upper level of hard white limestone.

and we clear it out.  This lets us fill the trench in even further.

We need to wait to fill it all in until after we rebuild the main irrigation water supply line.