Sunday, June 5, 2016

Summer is coming fast.....

I've been spending most of my free time over the past few weeks working in the yard.

Summer is coming fast, so we installed a fourteen foot round, above ground pool in the backyard.

In order to do this correctly I needed to lower the lawn by at least 6 inches.  At it's original state, the lawn was a few inches higher than the concrete, so every time it rained the water would run off of the lawn and flood the patio.

I started by lowering the area where the pool would be sitting.  I ended up removing the lawn and lowering the ground elevation approximately 8 inches.  That doesn't sound like much, but considering that I had to do the entire thing with a shovel, plus the fact that my backyard is surrounded by trees that have an over zealous root system, it was not an easy chore.  It took me an entire week of digging and moving dirt just to clear a 15' x 15' spot for the pool.

 To hide the visually loud pool liner we surrounded the pool with bamboo reeds to create a "tiki bar" feel.

Next I had to start on the remainder of the yard.  I still had 30 feet of old lawn to go.  I started working at it with my trusty shovel, only to get discouraged when I discovered that this new portion of ground was covered in river rocks only a few inches below the surface, so digging with a shovel was pretty much impossible.  I was going to need mechanical help, so I decided I was going to rent a rototiller.

I got lucky and found out that a buddy of mine owns a rototiller and offered to loan it to me for free.

The work was still hard but it sure saved my back muscles.

Two days, and a gallon of sweat later I finished tilling the yard.  I had to dig one portion of the lawn down deeper than the rest because we plan to lay paving stones to make a porch around the pool.  Our plan is to space the paving stones at least an inch apart and fill the gap with dirt before planting Spanish Moss between all of the pavers.  I dug the deeper portion out first and had to fight all of those river rocks.  Even with a rototiller it wasn't easy going.
As you can see in the pic, I threw a tarp over the pool to keep the dust out.  We keep the tarp over it permanently now when we are not swimming because of all of the trees surrounding the pool.  So far it has saved me a huge headache in pool care.  By the end of each day that tarp is covered with leaves, twigs, and other tree stuff that would have otherwise been sitting at the bottom of the pool.

The last portion of the lawn area was much easier.  Since I didn't have to dig down as deep, I didn't have to deal with the river rocks again.  On this portion I only lowered the area by around 3 inches.
Our original plan was to grow a small patch of lawn there, but we have since decided to create a koi pond.  The koi pond is definitely going to be the last portion of this yard renovation, so for now this area is going to be just dirt until we can get the paving stones laid and the Spanish Moss planted.

My next step is to use some of the removed dirt to level out the area where the paving stones are going to be laid.  The struggle of removing all of the river rock left the ground terribly uneven.  I have "pot holes" anywhere that the river rock was more stubborn to remove.  Plus I now have an exposed sprinkler system running right down the middle of the yard (see the pic above).  I am going to be trenching those pipes up and using them for the planned koi pond.

The weather here in the Central Valley in California has started hitting the 100's, so progress is slowing some.  Plus, with as many pave stones as I am going to be needing we are going to need something to haul them in........