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.



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.


Saturday, May 15, 2021

Digging up the back half of the front yard: Putting it all back

 With all the rock removed from the front yard, and the sprinkler line to Zone 11 put back, we can now fill in the holes with the piles of dirt. 


This took a week of work, and then was delayed by rain, which made the dirt too wet to work.

But we kept at it and after weeks of moving dirt, we have it all leveled out.


Thursday, May 13, 2021

Zone 11 water supply

When we started to work on the front yard, we destroyed the sprinkler system.  There were two zones in the front yard -- zone 10 from the sidewalk to the neighbors and zone 11 from the sidewalk to the driveway.  Although we only worked on zone 10, the water supply line for zone 11 went across the yard

and so it was removed too.


 Now that the rock and stump excavation is complete, we need to put this water supply  line back.

On the sidewalk side, we have a 1 inch PVC pipe to attach to.

This pipe is 15 inches below the top of the rock wall, which should eventually be the top of the soil.

On the other end, we have the end of the water supply line.  This is a 1.5 inch PVC pipe that (at the moment) has a 90 degree turn and a reducer to take it down to a 1 inch PVC.

This is 21 inches below the top of the wall.

And the two ends are roughly 30 feet apart.


We will need 30 feet of 1 inch PVC, plus a valve to control the water flow, and the connectors to put it all together.

We went to 3 different stores to get all the various pieces we needed ($40.73 + $6.32 + $21.11 = $68.16).  Then we finished digging the trench from one end to the other, using a string to make it straight.  It was about 20 inches deep.

Connection at the one end was fairly easy; we just had to adjust the angle of the joint.


Then we could lay the pipe from that end to the other.


The other end was more complex.  We had to reduce the pipe from 1.5 inches to 1.0 inches, turn it to run across the yard and add the valve to control the flow.  We bought the same model of valve as we used for zone 10.

 Then we attached the electrical wiring that runs back to the controller box in the garage, and put a cover over it.


At this point we had all sorts of problems.  I put the valve in backwards -- there are arrows which say which way the water flows -- so I had to take it out and turn it around.  Then there was a leak right at the sidewalk where it looked like a shovel had sliced thru part of the pipe, so it had to be repaired/replaced.  Finally, it turns out that the wiring for zone 10 and zone 11 was reversed, so it needed to be fixed.

But finally, everything seemed to work, so it could all be buried.