Last Update: July 1, 2008

July 2008 | February 2008 - April 2008 | August 2007 | June 2006 | March - May 2006 | January - February 2006 |Dec 16-31, 2005 |Dec 1-15, 2005 | Nov 16-30, 2005 | Nov 1-15, 2005 | Oct 24-31, 2005 | Oct 15-23, 2005 | Oct 6-14, 2005 | Sep 30 - Oct 5, 2005

May 2008 to June 2008

Back to the outside!

Since shortly after we bought the house, I've known that we had a bit of a problem in the front.  The combination of constant shade in front of the north-facing house, and the drainage-unfriendly clay soil made for some muckiness in what we wanted to be nice flowerbeds.  Last year, I was able to install a french drain in the bed in front of the dining room, and even tied one gutter downspout in to it.  It had always been my intention to do the same on the other side of the front door, in front of our front bedroom, and now I've finished it. Here are some of my supplies, and one of the trenches.

The left picture is from after I got everything tilled up and ready. The right picture shows some of the drain piping, plus a length of "poly-pipe" to be used later for a low pressure sprinkler system.


Here is another part of the new sprinkler system, tying in last year's work to this new work. That mess in the lawn is where I had to dig up my sod to run the final length of drain pipe down to the street.


This is where it all ends. This green thing is called a "pop-up emitter." Basically, all of my drain water is eventually routed down to this thing. When there's no water, it stays below grade, and out of the way of my mower, but when water is flowing, the pressure lifts up the top, so the water can flow out over the grass and curb, and into the gutter. I had intended to actually cut a hole in the curb to run the pipe through, but that is a lot of hassle. I may still eventually do it, but this should work just fine for now.

Here's a diagram of the whole basic setup. I've got a total of three downspouts that tie directly into a series of french drains. They all come together at the top right corner, then run down the hill to the emitter shown above. This might be a slightly over-engineered solution, but I don't think I'll be having any more "muckiness" up by the house anymore!

As you can sort of see from the above picture, burying some drainage pipe was just the beginning. I had previously built a walkway around the big garden area to the left, but after pulling out bushes and installing the drainage, we decided to completely redo the thing. The final concept evolved a bit as I worked, but we knew it was going to start with stone...a LOT of stones. The left picture below shows our initial delivery of 5 pallets of Arkansas field/river stone. At around 1 ton/pallet, that`s around 10,000 lbs of rocks sitting on my lawn! They`re sitting in a couple of haphazard piles because the place that delivered them uses the same dump-truck for stones and other material, so no forklift. No worries, I had to break open the pallets anyway.

These pictures are a bit out of order, but the one on the right is of Shirley helping me fill the wheelbarrow with topsoil from the same place. She was so cute when she asked me, "How can you shovel it so easily?" With increasing frequency, my answer to such questions has simply become, "I`m a man." (and I mean in that in a purely biological, and not sexist manner.) 8>) Anyway, that topsoil was used to backfill behind my stone wall, but that`s jumping ahead...

Mother Nature Interlude:
A couple of the flowers we already have in the other garden area have really attracted the wildlife (do insects count as wildlife??) I`ve always liked bumblebees, and Shirley has learned to appreciate them too, so she took these pictures, along with the one with the butterfly, below.

This particular plant was later moved to the new garden, and it was funny to watch the bees come back to the same spot. We watched them fly around and it was almost like you could imagine them thinking, "Where the heck is my plant? I KNOW it was right here yesterday!"



Back to the big project. Here you can see the beginnings of the new stone wall. One of the lessons we learned from earlier landscaping attempts was that weed-blocking fabric is very important. I did a lot of reading about building stone walls, and knew that I`d better put it down at the very beginning.

Here are the finished walls. We ended up making them a little taller than originally expected, but we`re very pleased that we did. I found the process to be pretty fun. I started telling everyone that the stones were like Legos for grown-ups. Now I know why we play with building toys as kids - So we can do stuff like this.

Here are some pictures of the (almost) finished work. I splurged for the red dyed mulch this time around, just for the "pop" factor. In the bottom left picture, you can see where we`ve moved some of the plants from other areas, but there is a lot more to do. In the bottom right picture, the pile of stone closest to the camera is what I have left over after also putting small walls around 3 trees. Once we move some more plants from the bed on the right, we`ll redo that one as well, although with a smaller wall - more like a stone border. After that`s all done, I`m going to rebuild the lower flowerbed, replacing the man-made concrete blocks with natural stone as well. Ahh, more Lego building!!



July 2008 | February 2008 - April 2008 | August 2007 | June 2006 | March - May 2006 | January - February 2006 |Dec 16-31, 2005 |Dec 1-15, 2005 | Nov 16-30, 2005 | Nov 1-15, 2005 | Oct 24-31, 2005 | Oct 15-23, 2005 | Oct 6-14, 2005 | Sep 30 - Oct 5, 2005