Thursday, August 08, 2013

Hey, we finished a project!

We are covered in dirt, scratches and sweat, but our yard looks fabulous!
We thought moving that pygmy date palm was gonna kill us -- we kept a large root ball so we'd have a better chance for success in getting it to successfully be moved -- and getting it out of the planter box was an all-day event using jacks, chains and a pile of bricks and boards.   One of the 3 arms on this tree has been leaning on the water pipes, and it is partially broken. 

You can see how it was very low in this 'before moving' picture - it's the one on the left:

We're hoping we can keep it supported so that it would be able to survive, but it's very heavy and will likely need to be supported for good.  Dale built it a little crutch and we painted it to blend in.  The mexican sage in front of it will grow fuller and should camoflage it in the next year.  We turned the tree around so the weaker arm will be more protected on the inside of the yard.

After moving that tree, we built a mound around it, and planted our other pygmy date palm at the other end of the "island." 

We have a sort of meandering gravel path that runs diagonally across the yard, sort of like a dry stream bed.  This serves as a safe way to walk through and tend to weeds, etc.  We would still like to get some more medium-sized rocks to transition from the boulders to the gravel. 

The planter has a partition to hold the end empty  - we took out the previous, broken irrigation piping and want to install the valves for our new drip system here.  We'll install a plastic box to contain the works, but we probably won't get that started until the weekend. 
We did feed some of the flexible plastic tubing through the place where we removed the old irrigation pipes before we put the soil back.  Funny bit about the old system:  we wanted to remove the old, leaking valves, but the valves were installed before the shut-off (?), and we needed to have the water turned off by the city at the meter.  We called the city water dept, and a guy came out within an hour.  He turned off the water, then said, "Call when you want it back on!" and Dale told him, "Oh, we weren't ready yet, we have to buy the parts."  He said he had a used shut off valve in his truck and he could just wait while Dale installed it.  Dale went to go get the sawz-all, and the utility guy jumped right in and started hacking it off with a hacksaw.  Between the two of them, they had the valve installed in 10 minutes and the utility guy drove off after turning the water back on.  That was fast!  And we no longer have a leaking water irrigation system!  Maybe we'll save some money on our water bill.

I did get the front planters painted.  I am SO happy with them now, that red brick was so ugly!
But first, we had to fix the broken ledges on top.  This was how this one's looked since we bough the house -- the ledges were missing from right in front of the door, which looked really awful.  That, and the ugly red brick did not make for a great first impression.  The ledge pieces are an unusual stone that splits really easily, not the best choice, and at first we were going to just use concrete to fill and smooth over the edges, but then I decided to pull some ledge pieces off the planter in the backyard, and cut them to fit with a chisel and hammer.  Then we got some landscape adhesive and glued them all in place.  A lot of the ones along the long planter were loose as well, so we got them all placed and glued, and then filled the gaps with some mortar caulk.  I painted them today, and the whole planter looks a thousand times better.
My favorite part is still the front walkway - it's the thing that most people walking by have commented on.  It was a huge physical effort getting it done, but it makes the biggest difference!

And the planters just melt into the color of the mulch.  Speaking of mulch - shoo-wee! It's so smelly!  But that's good - it's nice and rich and will help enrich the soil.  We got it free from the city - we had to go pick it up.  We got the first batch close by in San Pedro, but this morning when we went to get another batch, they were out so we had to drive all the way into LA.  The mulch from the LA system has been partially decomposed, so it's much nicer than the stuff we got in Long Beach - which was very woody and has larger chips. Since it's composted, it's really fragrant (that's the polite way of saying it smells like manure!), and we've had several neighborhood dogs stop, drop and roll in it, to the horror of the person at the end of the leash.  This really nice older couple were chatting with me about the yard, and their little doggie started rolling in the mulch, and they didn't notice.  I didn't want to say anything, but finally, the woman looked down and goes, "Ranger!! bad doggie!"  it was hilarious, he was loving it and he was all covered in stinky brown mulch. We have a small pile of it by the front parkway strip, I bet in the morning it will have evidence of dogs rolling in it.

One of the things we learned in the past about working on a landscape plan for the yard:  the mailman is gonna walk through your yard, so you might as well accept it and plan accordingly.  We placed a series of flagstones (free from CL of course!) to help guide the mailman where we'd prefer he walk, instead of across plants. 

So - here's a before and after.  Before - when we closed on the house:
And after - with all the plants in place and mulch ready to keep the water in:
 Do you see our helpers perched in their observation tower?

Here's another shot from that side of the yard:
And the view from the front porch:
I got my email off to the city to let them know our project is complete - so we look forward to getting our check soon!

1 comment:

Heather said...

This looks AWESOME. You did a phenomenal job! And the painted bricks are genius. Your house looks like a million bucks!

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