Saturday, April 17, 2010

Small Garden Area

I have been pretty delinquent in updating this blog! Time flies. Here is a project I completed recently for an out of town client who has a rental property in West Ashley. It is a small vegetable garden area with rocks and flowers, veggies and compost mulch:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Little More Professional

I've gotten hooked up with a commercial property maintenance company and am doing more of that type of work lately. I like the regularity and the job requirements are usually very clear and well defined, which is nice. I hope to do more of this sort of work and am applying right now to be a preferred vendor with this company.

I am also advertising on my own hoping to get more commercial landscape maintenance business. Biweekly mow mulch and trim $95 a month for your business or residence.

Sprinkler system repair

I've been doing a lot of work with sprinkler and drip irrigation systems lately. If you need help with that it's basically $20 an hour and usually doesn't take long for a maintenance problem: leaking joints, busted heads, cracked PVC that sort of thing can be fixed in two hours.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Taking out Turf - Putting in Beds

I am removing sections of lawn from my front yard and putting in flower beds that will consist mostly of strawberry patches, pumpkin vines, lantana and wildflowers. The idea is to replace high water use lawn with mulched flower beds and indigenous, drought tolerant plantings:

I am also putting in a low pressure sprinkler system:

That is supplied by a shallow well and a one horsepower water pump:

In this area, using water from a pump is much more efficient economically than using city water for irrigation. The water table is not far - the Ashley River is only about 300 yards to the north. To fill out the flower beds I picked up 2200 lbs of high quality compost mulch from the city, which comes from yard clippings - I was surprised at how rich and clean the compost turned out to be:

The most difficult part was digging around and cutting out the tree roots from the large, mature oaks in the lot - I tried to put the PVC in as far from the tree as possible so as to avoid cutting out the roots when I could:

There is a cold front moving in and possible snow this evening, so I am delaying putting in the strawberries and other plants, but I will try to get a pic up of the finished flower beds when possible. Thanks for viewing!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Microsprinkler Drip Irrigation - the Green Choice

I installed a drip irrigation system yesterday. Drip irrigation uses less than half the water of traditional sprinkler systems, while also costing less to install. I used commercial half inch polyethylene tubing for the main line and then inserted 8" rods with microsprinklers attached at intervals. Here is one of the microsprinklers:

The stated cast area for the microsprinklers is ten feet and I found this to be accurate - and since they cast such a wide water "net", you don't need to run an individual dripper to each plant, so it's a much less fussy and involved setup than older forms of drip irrigation. You just run the half inch poly main line through your flower beds, winding around major plantings and trees, using plastic stakes to hold the line in place in the mulch:

And then you insert the microsprinkler rods at intervals roughly corresponding to their cast area, with a little overlap for good measure:

The half inch poly is a new commercial blend that is strong and resilient, yet pliable - and once it's warmed up in the sun a little you can bend it around obstacles such as tree roots or hardscaping - here a tree root also protects the line from mower blades:

All of this hooks up to a standard hose faucet so no serious plumbing work is usually required - and because poly is more pliable and less brittle than schedule 40 PVC it's also less likely to freeze in cold weather - pretty cool huh? The head unit at the faucet is comprised of 5 parts that takes about 30 minutes to install:

Component #1: Attach a simple pressure regulator that reduces the household water pressure from the faucet down to 50 PSI to avoid blowing out the tubing connections between the poly and the rods.
#2: Attach a Y joint so that a garden hose can still be used at the faucet.
#3: Attach an electronic timer control unit which can be set like any hardwired sprinkler unit - here I set it for 15 minutes at 6 AM every other day.
#4: A backflow antisiphon valve to prevent water from siphoning back up into the house.
Finally #5: a hose to poly coupler - and then you're done. I also used plumber's tape on all of the thread connections between these components just to be safe and prevent leakage:

So what is microspinkler drip irrigation NOT good for? Large lawns with lots of turf and heavy foot traffic. Football fields. Municipal open spaces. But if you've got a "green" yard with a combination of mulched flower beds and native plantings, or a vegetable or flower garden that needs consistent, precise watering during the growing season, microsprinklers will save you 50% off your water bill while reducing runoff, overspray and unnecessary waste. And the install process is relatively painless and inexpensive - so in my book it's a great option for many homeowners and a win win.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tumbled Paving Stones as Borders and Edging

Tumbled paving stones make great borders and edging for flower beds, patios and driveways. The ones I use are relatively inexpensive and easy to get at Home Depot. If the spot where they are to be placed is properly dug out, the stones can be dry stacked - no mortar necessary, although it can certainly be used - and I usually like to use an alternating small large small pattern. When paired with bark chips and hardy annuals such as snapdragons, kale or ivy I think you get a really strong and attractive landscape. Examples:

Working with tree roots

I like to dig out around the roots at the base of a great big tree - a live oak here - and plant small annuals such as flowers or herbs in the nooks and crannies. Then cover with mulch - I prefer bark chips because they stay in place better than the ubiquitous pine straw. You get whimsical, beautiful shapes:

Or sometimes just taking a single root and pairing it with a flower or plant: