Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Backyard Landscaping - Growing Grass Still


I don't know what to say other than this blog, as of late, is literally as exciting as watching grass grow.

And it will continue to be that way as it is clear from the photo above that I will need to add some seed in the coming weeks. The grass I planted doesn't grow super well in the heat and its just now cooling off from the summer. I'm hoping the second seeding will fill things in well enough that we can avoid mud for the winter.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Backyard Landscaping - Growing Grass

I know, I know. So many of you have been asking, "Whatever happened to that grass you planted?"
Here's a not-very-good picture taken after the sun had gone down this evening of this little guys getting going. I have no idea why they are popping up in such a patchy manner; I might have to re-seed in the fall before the water is turned off.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Backyard Landscaping - Dirt In and Grass Planted

While I was out of town this past week, my sister and her husband came to help visit and assist my wife with all the running of the house and caring for our son. And while they were at it, they moved the rest of the dirt in. Last night I planted the grass and tonight, when our irrigation water returned, I started watering. Let's hope our recently spotty irrigation water holds up for a week or two so the seed can germinate.



The lighter spot in the lower left is not covered by the sprinkler head very well. Though they claim to spread the water uniformly, that is clearly not the case.  I'll be able to cover it decently with water from another zone.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Backyard Landscaping - Smoothing the Fill Dirt

The dirt is definitely smoother but this photo is deceiving. There's still much more to move in and a lot of smoothing still to go.


Newberry National Volcanic Monument

So, before we begin with the pictures, the difference between a National Park and a National Monument in the United States has only to do with how they are created and who ends up responsible. National Parks must be created by Congress, National Monuments can be created by the President or Congress. (And I guess if there was ever a lawsuit about the status of such a site the Supreme Court would get in on the action? I wouldn't want them to be left out.) The Park Service runs the National Parks and some other agency ends up running the National Monuments.

Why do I bring this up? Because this past week I visited Newberry National Volcanic Monument, managed by the US Forest Service and I saw no difference between it and a National Park (except maybe for the fishing in the lakes). I feel like this is an indicator of the disfunction and cost of politics, that we need two mechanisms to essentially do the same thing because sometimes, one of them isn't working. I as an engineer I should appreciate the redundancy but it seems like redundancy in governance commonly goes by the name "waste". At least they all figured out having a common location to reserve campsites is a good idea.

OK, let's not dwell on such things any longer.

Last week we went camping! It was mostly wonderful aside from being very cold at night. Our one year old end up sleeping with us and with a cap on his head, he slept through the night like a champ. Being an outdoor boy, he loved having ready access to sticks, dirt and rocks.



My big event for the trip was a hike to a local peak. It was the most ambitious hike since injuring my foot with a 1400 foot increase in elevation and a total length of around seven miles round trip. I was hauling my son in a baby-carrier backback most of the way and I paid for a bit the next day but it was worth it. A view from along the way, showing the two lakes in the Newberry volcano caldera:



When we got to the top we found that there is a road that allows mere mortals to drive directly to the peak. The next morning, when our son woke early with the sun, being a mere mortal at that hour of the day, I drove up with him to get some sunrise pictures. The mountains you see are Mt. Bachelor and the Three Sisters.



The only other hiking we did was a short mile or so to the Pauline Falls; here's the view from the lower observation platform.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Backyard Landscaping - Moving the Fill Dirt

Starting to move the pile of dirt in the drive to hole in the backyard.  Here's how the pile looked as left by the dump trucks. The dirt on the right is fill dirt and the that on the left is nutrient-rich topsoil.


I did a little work on Thursday but the majority of the action was yesterday with the help of my wonderful friend SamHam.


Here's how those piles looked after few hours of labor:


And the backyard:


I count roughly fifty wheelbarrow trips to get to this point but its a little tricky to tell because, as I was using the wheelbarrow, SamHam was carrying five gallon buckets of dirt and filling in some of the gaps I was leaving.  You know, just carrying big buckets of dirt like he did this everyday.

We made a good dent in the pile and I'm sure we'll have more to move. The next step will be smoothing out those piles and compacting them so I can get a good idea how much more of the lighter-colored fill dirt needs to be moved before we start moving in the darker-colored topsoil and plant the grass.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Backyard Landscaping - Bermuda Grass Barrier Installed

Finished last night:


Bermuda grass, the type of grass that pretty much covers our back yard because it does so well in the hot and dry climate we have here, had begun to chip away at the edges of our basketball court before this renovation. The asphalt was thin enough and the gras strong enough that it was actually growing underneath and then breaking through and apart the asphalt.

To help prevent that, I've installed a five-inch plastic barrier around the edge of what we retained of the court. I don't know how effective it will be but it was inexpensive and didn't take much labor to put into place. What you see above is my use of bricks to hold it flush to the asphalt; I'm hoping the sun will help relax the plastic from its rolled-up state into something straighter and I'll be using some tar-ish roofing adhesive/sealant along the top edge to help to stick to the asphalt.

At the two corners I've installed two notched PVC pipes to protect both the asphalt and help provide a stronger connection point for the barrier. Again, the roofing adhesive will be applied liberally to help secure the entire thing.

Again, I don't have high expectations but I wanted to try something to keep the Bermuda at bay.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Backyard Landscaping - Temporary Sprinkler System Install Complete-ish

Two trips to the home improvement store later, the temporary sprinkler system is in place.


Four heads at the corner of the court. The front edge of the asphalt has a plastic barrier I'm going to try using to keep the grass from being able to grow under the court and break it up, as it was doing at the edges of the original court. I'm skeptical of how effective it will be but I figure its worth a little extra cost and effort.

Backyard Landscaping - Beginning Sprinkler System Install

Completed last night and photographed this morning:


The trench on the left side is to support two new sprinkler heads placed at the corners of the court. There will be a parallel trench and sprinklers on the other side as well. The water for both of these will come from an existing line with three heads running along the back fence. Eventually there won't be any grass back there thus my choice to repurpose the line.