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Thread: Our Garden re-Birth Project

  1. #1
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    Oct 2006
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    Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
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    Our Garden re-Birth Project

    Our garden is still recovering from the disruption caused by an absence of six years when we lived in Seattle followed by the building of the workshop three years ago. This year, we plan to fix up the portion of our back garden shown in these two photos:

    Attachment 6524 Attachment 6523

    Here is a rough plan for the work that I will be doing:

    Attachment 6525

    The only woodworking involved is the arbour. I plan to build an arbor much like that shown on the cover of the March 2004 Handyman magazine:

    Attachment 6522

    As usual, I will do all the work myself. The biggest thing involved that I have never done is to lay a flagstone patio.

    Some of the other tasks are:
    -Remove the existing raised herb garden and replace it with one of simulated stone blocks. The new raised garden will have a much different shape.

    -Dig a trench from the sump pump pipe exit in the corner of the house/garage to the back of our property, run perforated pipe in the trench, then bury it. The trench will be about 20 metres long.

    -Erect some fences to hide the utility meters, pipes, etc at the side of the house.

    -Dig and plant border gardens

    -Sand, then stain the fence

    I got started on the job this week. So far, the raised herb garden is about half demolished and the trench is about half dug.
    Last edited by Frank Pellow; 04-16-2007 at 12:50 AM.
    Cheers, Frank

  2. #2
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    Geez Frank, sure glad to see you are taking it easy in your retirement

    Heck of a plan, I'm always surprised at how often people DO NOT make a little oassis in their back yards, especially when the kids are gone. Sure, we had a big back yard (Mowed it enough times) and we played all kinds of games there, but once the kids are left, why cut all that lawn?

    Look forward to the updates!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
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    Flagstones? Man, Frank, you're ambitious.

    Re: the sump pipe.

    I grew up in the country with a sump that dumed onto the back yard. My dad had also buried a (non-perferated) pipe to take the water away from the house to the roadside ditch.

    However, in the winter he always disconnected it, as otherwise it would freeze up. Even with a perforated pipe, it seems to me that you might need to be conscious of that.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Art Mulder View Post
    Flagstones? Man, Frank, you're ambitious.

    Re: the sump pipe.

    I grew up in the country with a sump that dumed onto the back yard. My dad had also buried a (non-perferated) pipe to take the water away from the house to the roadside ditch.

    However, in the winter he always disconnected it, as otherwise it would freeze up. Even with a perforated pipe, it seems to me that you might need to be conscious of that.
    Art, thanks for the advice, I had not thought of that. Sump pumps are new to me and I have a lot to learn about them. Ours was installed only about a year ago and the installers did a terrible job -including the fact that it just dumps our a pipe at the side of our foundation.
    Cheers, Frank

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Ablett View Post
    Geez Frank, sure glad to see you are taking it easy in your retirement

    Heck of a plan, I'm always surprised at how often people DO NOT make a little oassis in their back yards, especially when the kids are gone. Sure, we had a big back yard (Mowed it enough times) and we played all kinds of games there, but once the kids are left, why cut all that lawn?

    Look forward to the updates!
    Yes Stu, we sure won't have much lawn left one this project is complete. And you are right about the nature of the garden now changing from when we had children at home. The place where the patio will stand was once occupied by a very large climbing frame.
    Cheers, Frank

  6. #6
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    April 9th Update

    The weather turned cold again about 10 days ago and, since then, the high temperature for most days has been either a little below or a little above freezing. Outside digging has been unpleasant and, with the partly frozen ground, difficult. So ,I have not made as much progress as planned. Here is a photo of the unfinished ditch with a light fall of snow:

    Attachment 7052

    Here the partly finished ditch filled with water from the sump pump:

    Attachment 7051

    I was glad to see the water work its way a down the ditch from the sump pump because it indicates that the bottom of the ditch has a slope in the right direction. Itís kind of hard to tell when digging. I think that the overall drop from where the pipe comes out of the house to the storm drain at the back of our property is about 3 feet but the ground between the two is mostly level. The water sat in the ditch for close to a day because of the heavy clay under the lawn and garden. Over the years, I have improved the top foot of soil in the vegetable garden considerably but beneath that there is almost solid clay. Since the water does not really drain, there is no advantage to perforated pipe. So today, I purchased 70 feet of solid 4 inch pipe to place into the, now completed, trench. Here is a photo:

    Attachment 7049

    The plan is to run the pipe the length of the ditch at a steady downward slope. At the house end, I will put in a screw connection so that the water can be diverted should there ever be a freeze-up or a clog anywhere within the system. There is still a bit of digging to do at the house end and everything has to be connected, tested, then covered.

    The old raised herb garden has now been removed and I have purchased a few concrete blocks mainly to confirm that these are, indeed, what we want for the new raised garden.

    Attachment 7048

    Having a few real blocks also assists in the planning and layout tasks.
    Here is photo of the location where the old raised garden used to be:

    Attachment 7050

    The concrete blocks are in position where part of the wall for the new raised garden will be and the four stakes in the ground mark the approximate location of the arbor.
    Cheers, Frank

  7. #7
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    Wow, I missed this when you first posted it Frank. Looks like a nice plan, but looking at all that flagstone-laying, digging, and otherwise being bent over makes my back hurt just thinking about it. I'm sure yours is in better shape than mine, and you'll do a great job on the new landscape.

    One trick for checking the slope of your drainage ditch is to use a 4' to 8' 2x4 with a level taped to it. You can put a wedge or block under one end of the level to set your desired slope. You can get a pretty quick "inches of rise per foot" based on the length of your level. It doesn't have to be dead on, but it will help you get a pretty consistent slope when you're standing in the bottom of a ditch. (Or on the side of one with piles of dirt all around.) There are a number of other ways to gauge slope while digging a ditch, but for drain lines like yours I'd think this would be plenty accurate.

    I did several years of civil inspection on things like storm drain, sewer, and water lines. Most often there were surveyors and instruments involved in setting the line and the grade, but the guys on the backhoes and their helpers usually relied on string, 2x4s, and 4' bubble levels.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the tip about the use of the level Vaughn. I hope to lay the pipe towards the end of the week and will report back on the use of the technique that you advocate.
    Cheers, Frank

  9. #9
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    April 15th Update

    Well, the project has now expanded to include the front garden as well. Margaret is more interested in the front and I am more interested in the back. We agreed that it was not fair to concentrate this yearís budget and energy completely on the back. So, we now have a two year project where some of both front and back will get done this year. It is likely that the flagstone patio will now be delayed until 2008 and that the arbour will get moved to a small side garden and probably will not be built until 2008.

    Here is a photo of the front garden as it looked this afternoon:

    Attachment 7373

    The tasks to be done in the front include (among others):

    -replace the old 6x6 pressure-treated driveway curbs with concrete curbs,

    -put curbs beside the front sidewalk,

    -replace the pressure-treated wall around the front entry with one made of stacked concrete blocks

    -install a flower garden right in front of the driveway side of the house
    (where a walkway used to be and where the crushed stone is in the following picture)

    Attachment 7374

    -plant some new bushes and move many existing ones

    -install a new flagstone walkway from the front door to the driveway

    -build a short (short height, long length) retaining wall to enclose the side of the garden that has the large tree, fill with a lot of top-soil and put in many new plants,

    -fix the downspouts.

    I started to remove the old 6x6 pressure-treated driveway curbs this afternoon. They are rotten in places but not in others and were installed with quite a bit of rebar spiked into the ground. This makes them very hard to remove. The best technique that I have been able to come up with is to cut the timbers into short lengths with my reciprocating saw, thus isolating the parts attached to the ground with rebar. I can then smash those small sections with a sledge hammer. Here I am sawing:

    Attachment 7372

    Yesterday, I got the bulk of the sump pump drain installed in the back yard:

    Attachment 7375

    It drains well!

    At the house end, I temporarily hooked up to the sump pump drain pipe projecting out of the house.

    Attachment 7376

    But, notice the 5 wires over the pipe . Altogether, I encountered 5 TV cable wires and 2 telephone wires buried very shallowly in the ground. Surely they canít all be live! I am going to see if I can get the companies to move the wires. I donít want to complete the job, until this has been done.
    Cheers, Frank

  10. #10
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    Gee, Frank. No one could accuse you of getting fat and lazy in your retirement...

    I was curious about your comment about building a raised garden on the left side where the big tree is. (did I read that right) Looks like a spruce/pine tree in that photo. Don't those needles do a pretty good job of killing most anything under them? Doesn't seem like the easiest place to maintain a garden.

    How do you access the back yard? Your garage/driveway is on the right, but shed2 is on the left side of the back yard. Do you walk the left side of the house or do you go through the back of the garage? Just curious, as you don't mention anything about a path to the left.

    Have fun!

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