Friday, November 14, 2008

Do it yourself Home Landscaping

This is a continuation of Rachael's post, Growing, about the lanscaping project that we have been working on. The brunt of the work is done, but we art still adding plants here and there, we will be planting bulbs soon, and we are always maintaining the area. I would like to share a bit of the technicals details and history of the project.

I moved into the house in December of 2004 and the backyard was almost bare if it was not for two ash trees (which I hated and took down) and a nice texas redbud (which I love). For two years I attempted to water the lawn with your standard hose a sprinkler which proved to be annoying. Let alone I would sometimes forget to turn off the water before I went to bed and found the backyard almost flooded. Therefore Rachael and I decided to get a sprinkler system. We got estimates and found the cheapest to be $2500. I have helped put in sprinkler systems in Nebraska and it did not seem to be too difficult. So, I thought I can do this and I started researching on sprinkler placement, and how far below the ground to dig, and how to connect to the main, etc. After about a month of research, I came up with a plan. I also thought, since I will be digging up these trenches, why not lay wire for low voltage landscape lighting. Rachael and I also wanted to have flower beds, so I planned to have separate stations for these beds.

Commence digging...I found that in Austin the ground is a bit more rocky than the ground in Nebraska and realized this project will take some back breaking effort. I also invested in a pick axe for trenching. The project took about 2 months to finish with about 2 days on full labor. I was basically solo on this project with a little help from my friend Mike Elsasser. I am not sure if I would ever do this again, but who knows...I like a little pain. Some afterthoughts, or things that I would do differently....
  1. I used the thickest 1" PVC pipe for the water main, which I recommend, but I think I went overboard with 1" PVC pipe for each station. I think 3/4" PVC should suffice. Water pressure for me is great though.
  2. I would buy the 12" guage landscape lighting wiring and sprinkler control wiring in the lighting and sprinkler sections, but I found you could buy it in bulk at a cheaper price in the electrical wiring section.
After putting in the sprinkler system, Rachael and I put down 6 cubic yards of garden soil in the flower beds. We added three trees (Live Oak, Red Maple, and Bradford pear) and started planting a bunch of plants. We halfway planned what to plant (which I would not recommend) and found some plants worked and some did not. Some that worked great were mexican grasses, chinese witches, cannas, and a sumac. We also planted a Loquat tree which we planted from a little seedling that has grown to be about 6 feet high. One plant that seems to grow well (actually too well) is the potato vine. It has a pretty color, requires no maintanance, and can be grafted easily, but it can just grow out of control. It is a great plant for an outdoor pot.

I also put in low voltage lighting which spotlights all of the trees in the front yard and backyard and also spotlights some features of the house. One of the pictures in this post shows the front of the house with the landscape lighting at nighttime, although I could not get a very good picture. Oh well.

Due to the incredible amounts on yard waste that I disposed of, I decided I could make better use of the yard waste and I bought an Envirocycle Composter. I bought it in July and am still on my first batch. I am still learning about what to put in and what not to put it, so the first batch is taking awhile. We are also able to put kitchen waste (excluding meats). I can't say that I bought this because I am an environmentalist...I just thought what a good way to reuse the yard and kithchen waste.


rebekahjane said...

sweet. im glad you got rid of your tv though!!!

Anonymous said...

Great job Matt. You will enjoy your yard even more, since you were the ones to do all the work. It is satisfying to see the finished project and you have a sense of accomplishment. Mary