DIY

Battle For The Yard

Since we bought the house a year ago, I have been battling for its life. I spent my entire summer wrestling the yard.

First, it was the sprinklers. They’re ALL broken, so the grass died/was never really pretty to begin with.

Next, it was the crabgrass. Just. Horrible.  It creeped into every nook and cranny. And looked sad.

Then, the gophers laid siege. It looks like a landmine, and I’m constantly finding my foot has sunk into the ground a good three inches. I fear it will explode in my face.

So we hired a gopher service (still battling those gophers because the neighbor has an infestation and they’re migrating to us), turned off the water to let the grass well and TRULY die, (DIE CRABGRASS DIE) and started tilling the yard. Hand tilling.  Did I mention how hard that is? Not yet?

Plans? Get rid of grass. Kill all gophers. Eradicate bug-infested wood pile.

BEFORE

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With grass. Halloween 2015. With a toilet.

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Where the wood pile was, I discovered a broken sprinkler head! However, when I turned on the water, nothing came out… Hm…

PROGRESS

Phew! This is a lot of work.  I’ve been using a hand tiller, meant for small gardens. I know, I should have just rented a tiller from our local garden supply store..(hindsight is always 20/20!) But I kinda dig it. (heh, get it? DIG. IT.) I get out early in the morning before the sun reaches a scorching 100 F, I dig, pull and rake for an hour, sweat like a pig and get some cardio while doing it.

Next time, I’ll just rent the tiller.

With my dad’s help, we fixed the valves in the front yard.  Originally, they were located outside the flower bed, and whoever installed them had decided it would be a GREAT idea to fit four of them in the box, and put the remaining two in a crappy circle thing. Greeeaaat.

So, we dug them all up and discovered that tree roots had entwined themselves in all of the pipes.  We moved the valves inside the flowerbed, moved all of the pipes and tied a few pipes together to certain valves.  We pulled apart some of the valves and discovered gunky old diaphragms and/or leaky anti-siphon vents.  We fixed the ones that were MAJOR leakers (our Home Depot didn’t have enough diaphragms) and that brought some water pressure back to our sprinklers.

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The valves used to be located where that patch of grass is now.  You can see where we moved them.  After a couple of hours of back-breaking work, we connected them to all existing pipes.

In the backyard, it was a different story. I did all the sprinkler-fixing myself! After I leveled the yard and ripped up most of the grass, I went digging for sprinklers.  Even though our plan is to lay down gravel, I wanted to have sprinklers in place in case we wanted a flower bed or something to water the trees.

So, many hours of digging later… I found that with the exception of ONE working and visible sprinkler, the rest were buried underground and broken or capped off! Along the porch nearest the house, all of the sprinklers had been removed and capped off.  Towards the back of the yard where the trees were was a capped off pipe that had at one point been attached to some sprinklers that led around the trees and along the far wall.  My initial thought was at one point, the sprinkler or pipe near the tree had burst (probably from the tree roots) and instead of fixing it, they just capped it and turned all sprinklers off. What the ???? In doing so, they also cut off ALL of the sprinklers that run along the wall we share with our neighbor.  BUT did they dig up the broken/unattached pipe? NO!

My next job was to tie the sprinklers together. I cut the pipe where they had capped it, attached a new length of pipe, added an elbow and a sprinkler in each corner and added new heads to all the sprinklers (which were underground, broken).  I turned on the water and it worked! For one GLORIOUS second, it worked. Then POOF, something burst and water poured out of the ground in a spot I was SURE I had checked for broken pipe. My worst fear! Dug up the offending pipe… Which, thank goodness, turned out to be another section of the original pipe they had cut off and never capped! A little glue and a cap later, all fixed.  THE SPRINKLERS WORK! GO ME!

Fire Pit

The next step after leveling the yard and spraying ground cover killer was to lay down the fire pit bricks.

I started by placing my fire pit in the center of the yard, and spray-painting a circle around it.  Next, I tamped down the dirt around the circle.  I added pea-gravel around this circle and tamped it down again.  I also did some gravel inside the pit to prevent any weeds from popping up.

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The grass is gone (except for in one corner), we acquired a few plants, leveled the yard, and started the fire pit.

Next, the bricks.

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Laying down the layers. We started with 15, being unsure how many we’d need per layer. And then afterwards, realized the bottom layer was upside down…Ooops. Started over, and tried it this way…

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Not sure if I like it like this, we may end up rearranging.  So next was the mulch under the trees!

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Our sweet potato (little pot) and our plumeria are doing super well!

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As usual, I was one bag and garden edging short (it was being shipped and supposed to arrive that day).  But lots of progress! Below you can see I finished the edging and mulch.

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We laid down garden/weed fabric in preparation for the gravel.  Hopefully this will prevent nasty grass from poking through.  Next step is gravel!

We bought gravel from a place in Rialto, right across the street from my parents.  It was about $60 per “scoop” and we fit two scoops in the back of my dad’s truck.  A LOT of shoveling later, we filled the yard! There are a few patches that could use more so I think we’ll go back for another scoop.  But look!!!!

AFTER

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Halloween 2016! WithOUT a toilet!

p1020597p1020601p1020599We’re DONE!!! YAY!

All in all, redoing the whole yard cost about $500, including the new IKEA furniture.  It was about $120 for gravel, $25 for the fabric, $10 for the fabric staples, $20 for mulch, $20 for sprinkler heads and PVC and that was it! The paver stones were free! Yay!

What cost the most was time, and effort. A LOT of sweat, some bulging muscles and some skinned fingers, but all in all, worth it. Thanks for sticking around!

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