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growin' grass on the river

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Grass Clippins
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Re: growin' grass on the river

Post by Grass Clippins » Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:59 pm

Damn @OnTheOxbow you're such a tease :lol: Come on let's see some more pics :clapping:

OnTheOxbow
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Re: growin' grass on the river

Post by OnTheOxbow » Thu Feb 07, 2019 5:38 pm

Patience grasshopper, patience. :lol: @Grass Clippins Watcha want more picture of ?

OnTheOxbow
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Re: growin' grass on the river

Post by OnTheOxbow » Fri Feb 08, 2019 8:42 pm

I'm not one to believe in weird science or unexplainable events but this one certainly made me scratch my head. I called a local well driller to inquire about his process and rates. I asked him how exactly he knows the spot he picks will produce water. He politely told me that I was responsible for picking the location because "he wasn't going to be responsible for digging an expensive hole that may not produce water." With a rye smile and chuckle, he added it may benefit me to give Billy a call. He promised me that Billy has a talent for finding spots that produce good wells. Ok, I'm intrigued. What special powers does Billy have that allows him to pick good well spots? I called Billy to find out. He didn't want to give away too many of his secrets. The only thing he would tell me, he's been "witching wells" for about 40 years and he finds water roughly 98 out of 100 times. He charges 100 bucks to locate a well site and if that site doesn't produce water he would refund part of my money. Google witching wells or witching sticks. Alright, now that we are on the same page. I'm thinking, i'm paying this guy to walk across my land with two sticks and they are going to "magically" move when he finds water aka hahah yeah, ok i'm about to get ripped off for 100 bucks. Nevertheless, I decided the entertainment from this will be worth the money even if he doesn't find water. I'm there waiting when Billy pulls up. Out steps an older gentleman, probably late 60's, shorter in height, plump in build, full beard, santa clause-ish, with a deep raspy voice. Lets find you some water, he says. He steps to the rear of his van, grabs his withcin' sticks and starts walking east to west across my property. Softly humming and slowly strolling along, looking at the ground. He walks approximately 100 yards and his sticks never flinch. In my mind, I'm thinking Ha! I knew it, he's a fraud just trying to take my money, although I never said a word. As if he heard me doubting him, he says water veins only run one direction, I must be walking between the veins let me turn and walk north to south and ill find water. Yes sir, I replied. He takes about 12 steps and his sticks start to move. This is the edge of the vein, he takes about 3 more steps and his sticks really start to flutter back and forth, this is the center of the vein, this is strong water source! He takes 3 more steps and the sticks calm back down, this is where the vein ends. He turns around and walks the same path back to double check, I assume. He gets the same readings this time. He stops in the middle and sticks a flag in the ground. Dig here and you'll have plenty of gallons per minute as he nods his head up and down.

When they backed the well drilling rig in, they stopped directly on top that flag. Promptly dug down 225 feet and hit water! 10 gallons per minute! :banana: Just like Billy said. I called Billy that same day. He answered the phone by simply asking how many gallons? 10 I told him. Yep, I knew it was a good source he replied. I confessed to him I wasn't so confident in him until I saw the results. He just chuckled, and said "son you aren't the first one to doubt me and you won't be the last, just remember my name when people ask how you picked your well spot." Yes sir, I replied. Maybe it was special skills, maybe it was pure talent, maybe it was dumb luck, all I can say is it worked and I now believe in Billy.


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jdselig
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Re: growin' grass on the river

Post by jdselig » Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:16 am

Saw something almost exactly like you described on one of those "Building off the grid" shows on tv. I thought what a crock of s$*t! Now hearing your first hand experience really makes me think. There has to be a more reasonable explanation..right? Haha

Robberthoffman
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Re: growin' grass on the river

Post by Robberthoffman » Sat Feb 09, 2019 3:50 pm

What a beautiful journal. Love reading this! First all the bad luck and then how everything turns good. Can’t wait until the next post and your final post when you show us a beautiful house with a great lawn!

Sorry not a native speaker. Correct me if my sentence isn’t right

OnTheOxbow
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Re: growin' grass on the river

Post by OnTheOxbow » Sun Feb 10, 2019 4:36 pm

@jdselig Yeah I hear ya, I saw it with my own two eyes and still didn't want to believe it. There has to be some logical explanation. Just a complete guess, maybe water in the ground creates a certain magnetic field? Im sure someone smarter than me could put reason to it. Final note: I recommended Billy to three other people in the area, and he found water on their property first try, using the same method. As far as I know he is 4 for 4!

@Robberthoffman Thank you for following along. Yeah, its been an up and down ride but it has all worked out, in the end. Well done on your English, I understand you perfectly! :thumbsup:

OnTheOxbow
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Re: growin' grass on the river

Post by OnTheOxbow » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:12 pm

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I took this picture just to capture the beautiful sunrise and the clouds in the sky but if you look closely you can see the ground has a slight green hue to it. That was my second attempt at grass on the entrance. I looked through literally hundreds of pictures looking for another shot of the entrance after I reseeded but there aren't any. They don't exist. But I take pictures of everything, why don't I have any others......and then it dawned on me. September 5, 2017 we broke ground on the house! :yahoo: That grass had quickly relocated to the absolute bottom of my priority list. Mother nature, the grass is your baby now, i'm focused on the house!

After a year of looking for the perfect property to build on. After a year of searching through house plans and blueprints and layouts. After a year of meetings with an architect, a builder, county officials, banks and loan officers, utility providers, and insurance companies. (plus the other 50 meetings I have forgotten about by now) After a year of touring houses and picking out flooring and appliances and colors and finishes. And lastly, after a year of physical labor to prepare this property for a house. It's freakin' go time! Let's do this! :dancenana:

We chose Tony Hayes to build our house and it was hands down the right decision. I would recommend him to anybody! If you're building in Southside Virgnina or Northern North Carolina and want to hear more about Tony and his team, i'd love to share my experience. Please don't hesitate to ask!


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And in the blink of an eye, there stood a house! Less than 30 days after breaking ground, Tony and his guys set the roof trusses.(October 2) :beer:

OnTheOxbow
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Re: growin' grass on the river

Post by OnTheOxbow » Sat Feb 16, 2019 6:18 pm

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Tony had the house under control. His guys were knocking along, making good progress; all the while winter was knocking on our front door. I don't do well with winter. I like to be active and cold weather hinders that. My girlfriend, Jessie, ordered me a couple of lawn care books. She had heard me mention I wanted to learn more about grass, and this was her subtle way of agreeing. :lol: I couldn't stay cooped up in the house all winter reading though, I needed a project to occupy my time.

When we built the entrance to the land, we had to remove four mature trees. I had no idea what I would do with them but I didn't want to waste them. I decided to send them to the local saw mill to have them sawed into lumber. I'll build something out of them one day, I said, and that winter was the perfect opportunity. A dining room table is what I decided on. Not just any dining room table. I wanted a true craftsman style trestle table. No nails, no screws, just old school joinery. I'm talking a mortise and tenon, dovetailed, draw bore, breadboard end trestle table with a sturdy base, built out of the lumber off my land! My friend, Colin, offered me the run of his wood working shop. Come and go as you please and if you need a hand, just ask. Side note: I don't have may close friends in this world, but they don't get any better than the ones I do have! :thumbup:

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Look to the upper right side, this is a picture of the logs on the trailer headed to the mill.

There was only one minor problem to overcome. I've never built any furniture. Thats alright, you can learn anything on the internet. Youtube is your friend. I spent the next couple of weeks researching my project. Yeah, I watched hours and hours of guys building this style table. I gained experience with each minute. I built this table in my mind from start to finish. Now lets build it out of wood!

It took the entire winter to build this table. Working with 10 foot long, inch and half, Virginia white oak, quarter sawn boards was a tall task for one person. I asked for Colin's help early in the project and he helped me every step of the way.

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Cutting all the mortise and tenon joints took forever. Cut one then test fit. Shave a little off, test fit again.


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Assembled together for the first time. Essentially holding itself together.


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To make the grain pop, I used a dark gel coat stain. The gel coat would fill the "pores" without altering the color too much. I top coated with Arm-r-seal. It's the most natural looking finish I could find. And if you're counting, thats 11 coats.

Oh yeah, I read those lawn care books cover to cover. I now knew the basics of lawn care. Nothing anywhere remotely close to "thelawnforum" level of knowledge but I had the basics down and thats a good start. :D

OnTheOxbow
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Re: growin' grass on the river

Post by OnTheOxbow » Sun Feb 17, 2019 9:39 am

If you remember wayyyy back in my first post, I told you guys that my girlfriend and I had purchased this land. Through the computer I could hear some of the moaning and groaning about how that was a bad idea. Never buy anything, especially land, with a girlfriend. You're crazy for doing this. It's going to be such a mess to sort out if you guys break up.
Hey, I hear ya. I've got pretty good gut instincts though, I rely on my gut feelings quite often and rarely do they let me down. Kind of like Gibbs on NCIS. :lol: I knew deep inside, when I started dating Jessie, she was the one. She makes my life easy, and fun. She is beautiful and silly and compassionate and I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. Spring of 2018, it was time she knew that, I asked and she said Yes!

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I talked it over with her dad first, and then I ran the idea by her Great Dane, Arnaz, they were both excited to have me in the family. :yahoo: Jessie is a big I love Lucy fan, so her animals are all named in that theme. Arnaz, the dog, and two cats, Ricky and Desi.

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Around April 15 2018, Tony and his guys finished up. The house looked incredible, the yard however was a completely bare canvas. It's time to put all my new found lawn knowledge to the test.

In Virginia, it starts to warm up pretty quickly in May. Yet again the wrong time to plant grass but I had no choice. I wasn't hoping for much, but for now I just wanted a somewhat green yard, mainly to keep from tracking mud into the house. I would see how this seeding turned out and that would decide my fall plans. I hopped on the tractor & tilled the yard up in three different directions to loosen the soil. I didn't have time to wait for a soil test. Lets throw some seed down and see what happens. Southern States Contractor Mix was my seed of choice. It was the closest and cheapest seed I could get. I seeded at 7lbs per 1000 sf. After broadcasting the seed, I lightly raked by hand. Covered everything with straw and started to water.

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I got better than I expected results. Grass jumped out of the ground almost immediately. I had good coverage, I had good color, I had good density. :mrgreen: Now can I just keep it alive through the brutal transition zone summer?

OnTheOxbow
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Re: growin' grass on the river

Post by OnTheOxbow » Sun Feb 24, 2019 9:58 am

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Throughout May and June my grass thrived. It grew thicker and healthier each and every day. I dragged hoses around the yard, moving and adjusting impact sprinklers to make sure every square inch of grass was watered. I spent hours watching those sprinklers turn. I measured the grass height almost daily, anxiously waiting the moment when I could cut it again. I was cutting it with a Husqvarna 54in ride on mower and I proudly stripped by grass back and forth. :mrgreen: Everything I had read indicated growing grass going into summer was tough. Not for me, this grass growing thing isn't so tough after all. As the grass grew so did my confidence! All the while, Mother Nature was watching my grass project, making mental notes of my progress and growing confidence. It's July now and thats when she decided to put me to the test. She reached over to the control panel and turned up the knob for the temperature. While at it, she maxed out the humidity adjustment and if that wasn't enough she also cranked up the afternoon thunder storms. Instantly the color of my grass was gone. Patches of it started to wilt and brown. Frantically, I googled and googled for answers. Yep, you experienced guys already know. FUNGUS! I had zero experience with fungus. I didn't know when to look out for it, I didn't know how to ID it, and I for sure didn't know how to treat it. By the time I realized I had a fungus, it was too late. It had wiped out the majority of my grass. If you're counting, that's Mother Nature 2 - me 0. She got me once at the entrance and now at the homesite. :censored:

I didn't want to talk about the yard, I didn't want anybody to see it. I was embarrassed and humiliated. I went from the top of the mountain to the bottom in about 10 days. I just wanted to get on the river and float away from it all. The yard looked so bad I didn't take a single picture of it in July. I did catch a picture of a rainbow one afternoon, ha yeah after one of those thunderstorms that ruined my yard. In that picture though, note the dead grass now weeds that used to be handsome grass. RIP grass.

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Alright, my beginner knowledge was a good start. I've got the basics down, now I just need to take my knowledge to the next level. Thats when I stumbled upon Matt Martin on youtube. After listening to one of his live lawn and garden shows, I knew I had found an incredible source to learn from. That dude is amazing. Thank you Matt, for sharing your vast knowledge and experience with everyone! :thumbup: Listening to him sent me down a rabbit hole and I haven't come close to finding the bottom yet. I knew I had about 3 months to learn as much as I could before my fall reseed. The race is on.

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Re: growin' grass on the river

Post by OnTheOxbow » Mon Feb 25, 2019 7:52 pm

If I were going to tackle the front yard, there were a few things I definitely wanted to address. The first thing being the "grade" of the front yard. Part of the contract on the house included backfilling the foundation and rough grading the close perimeter around the house. And that's exactly what they did; a rough grade. I didn't like how steep the yard "fell off" on the right side of the house. Looking at the pictures, it doesn't show up that well but there was a pretty sharp slope on the right side. To me it made the yard/house look unbalanced. I thought i'll just bring in some nice composted topsoil to soften the slope and that will give me good dirt for my new grass. Two birds, one stone. Whoop whoop. :mrgreen: I did a few quick calculations, called a landscaping store and found out getting that amount of quality topsoil delivered was more than I was willing to pay. Thinking back, it may have been worth the cost after all, but I didn't know that at the time. Option two, I called a guy in town with some heavy equipment to get a price on moving dirt from somewhere on my property to the front yard. The owner told me he would need a trackloader to excavate the dirt - that's $125 an hour. A dump truck to haul the dirt - that's another $125 an hour. A bobcat to grade it all out - that's another $125 an hour. Minimum of half a days work so best case $1500, if it took a whole day $3000. Geez! And I thought this was going to be cheaper than option one. Thanks but no thanks. Shoot, I've got a John Deere tractor equipped with a bucket, a road blade, a tiller, and i've got a dump truck. I'll move this dirt myself, it will turn out how I want & it will give me a good excuse to play on my tractor. It will only cost me the price of fuel and my time and both of those are pretty darn cheap. :lol: Thats exactly what I did, tilled up a section of land, scooped it up with the bucket, dropped it in the back of the dump truck, hauled it to the front yard and "spread" it with the truck. Then I would switch attachments behind the tractor from the tiller to the road blade and smooth it out as best as I could. Switch back to the tiller and do it all over again.

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I can't remember how many dump truck loads it took. I lost count. I only filled the dump truck half full because I didn't want to compact the yard any more than I had to. I think it was somewhere around 18 half loads.

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If you look at the right corner of the house, specifically the brick foundation, I ended up raising the grade there about 6 bricks. Thats roughly 20 inches total. I carried the grade out as far as I could aka until I got tired of moving dirt.

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Honestly I spent more time smoothing out all the dirt than I did loading or hauling. I spent hours riding around the yard with the road blade spreading out the dirt, getting it "slick". Finally the yard didn't look lopsided. :D Now, on to the next project!

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crussell
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Re: growin' grass on the river

Post by crussell » Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:29 pm

Wow, was impressed with the initial turf you established. What a heartbreaking plot twist, hope the ending is better!

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piotrkol
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Re: growin' grass on the river

Post by piotrkol » Tue Feb 26, 2019 4:10 pm

The prices can get ridiculous very quick. Had the same problem last year with moving soil around the yard. In the end it was me, a wheelbarrow and the good old shovel. We became best friends over summer :P

Said it once but I'm gonna say it again - very impressive so far! Love reading this topic :)

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Re: growin' grass on the river

Post by OnTheOxbow » Tue Feb 26, 2019 7:10 pm

@crussell Thanks, yeah those are two very accurate adjectives to describe my feelings. Initially impressed... then heart broken. I try to learn something every time I fail and that summer I learned the importance of fungicides. A tough lesson but well learned.

Improving the baseball field is a really cool project! How's the field looking coming out of winter? Are you ready for opening day?

@piotrkol Thanks again! Yeah I read your lawn journal, doing a leveling project with only a shovel and wheelbarrow is a serious commitment. My hats off to you!

OnTheOxbow
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Re: growin' grass on the river

Post by OnTheOxbow » Tue Feb 26, 2019 8:44 pm

August 14, 2018 roughly one month before fall seeding. I needed to get a sidewalk put in and I needed it put it in like now. I had a feeling that finding someone to lay a sidewalk literally right now would be unrealistic. So I skipped the song and dance of calling landscaping companies and getting bids. I recruited my trusty pal Colin and I went straight into planning mode(thanks, youtube). Seems simple enough, dig down to a firm base(usually 6-8inches), backfill with crush and run, compact every few inches, top dress with 3/4inch of sand and lay the pavers. I've got roughly 20 inches of loose top soil laying on the ground where I want this sidewalk to go. Geez, what do I do here? Dig down 8 inches and take a chance the top soil below it doesn't eventually settle. Naaahh too risky for me. I want this sidewalk to last and look professional. I'm going to dig down until I hit red clay, so at least 20 inches deep. I want it to be the width of the front steps, so 8 feet 2 inches wide. I want it to carry away from the house a decent distance, so 40 feet long.
Come on Colin. Come on John Deere, we've got work to do!

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First I need to collect some supplies.
I called the local quarry and ordered 26 tons of crush and run gravel. That should be plenty, I thought. Ha, not even close... I had to order another 20 tons. I went to the local big box store and bought every paver they had in the brand I wanted. Certainly that will be enough. Ha, yet again, I was wrong, I ran out and had to go to a different location and buy more rectangle sized and more square sized. Bought some sand; two pallets worth. Rented a plate compactor. I've got all the ingredients. Lets build a sidewalk!

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If you ever want to get a funny look, ask the cashier at a big box store how many bags of sand they have in stock, and when she replies a few hundred, tell her i'll take them. How many of them will you take? All of them! :laugh:

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I decided early I wanted the sidewalk to meander up to the front door. I thought the soft curves would be a nice touch. If I would have made the sidewalk straight, I could have done it in half the time but in the end I think it was worth the extra effort!

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I enjoyed that project, even though it wore me out. Thats me, brooming sand into the joints. That's a perfect picture of August heat + August humidity + manual labor. :wacko:

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crussell
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Re: growin' grass on the river

Post by crussell » Wed Feb 27, 2019 8:36 am

OnTheOxbow wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 7:10 pm
@crussell Thanks, yeah those are two very accurate adjectives to describe my feelings. Initially impressed... then heart broken. I try to learn something every time I fail and that summer I learned the importance of fungicides. A tough lesson but well learned.

Improving the baseball field is a really cool project! How's the field looking coming out of winter? Are you ready for opening day?
Season started with practice this week. Luckily they don't need to use the field for a while, because we've been getting our @ss kicked with everything from snow, to cold/dry/high winds. The field looks scorched, need to turn the corner into spring.

Great job on the pavers, that looks awesome!

OnTheOxbow
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Re: growin' grass on the river

Post by OnTheOxbow » Sun Mar 03, 2019 2:34 pm

The house sits a top a hill so water runs away from it really well, thats the good news. The bad news, rain water generates some serious speed coming off the roof. That, plus the slope, creates some nasty washout. No questions about it, this had to be addressed. Turn your attention to exhibit A. :shock:

Exhibit A.

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You know my routine by now. Find a knowledgable person on youtube. Watch a few videos. Modify their plan to fit my situation. Buy supplies at the local big box store. Convince Colin to come help. Then get it done.

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The plan for this project to bury the gutters 16 inches underground. Using 6inch pvc pipe, carry them all the way across the driveway and turn the water loose there.

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I used a NDS grate on the gutter end. The grate sits about 3 inches below ground level. I liked the clean simple look of this option. The grate is removable allowing for future clean out.

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I used a NDS pop up emitter on the exit end. The pop up will slow down the water and allow for a more controlled release. These are also removable for future clean out. There is a hole in the pvc pipe directly below the pop up emitter, to allow water that doesn't make it out, to seep into the ground.

Digging a ditch 6 inches wide and 16inch deep required renting a trencher. I rented it for 8 hours hoping that we could somehow, someway finish in that time frame. That trencher was an absolute beast and also the best money I've ever spent. It dug over 300 feet of trenches in 6 hours without a hiccup. With Colins help, we finished that project in one day. But hold up, I've got a trencher that I don't have to return until Monday, and I can use it for another 2 hours. Cant let that opportunity go to waste. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Lets sneak in an irrigation project. All of the speciality irrigation stores are closed on Sunday, that only gave me one option. Home Depot, here I come. I picked up two Railbird irrigation kits. Thats all they had in stock. Each kit comes with 5 pop up sprinkler heads, irrigation hose, one controller, and a random assortment of connectors. This should at least give me coverage of most of the front yard. I temporarily put the kit together. Staked the heads in the ground, following the recommended spacing in the manual. Then turned the system on to check for head to head coverage. I only had to make a few minor adjustments and then did the permanent install. One kit completely covered the front yard on the right side. The front yard left side is larger, so it doesn't cover 100% but I'll take it for now. No more dragging around hoses and impact sprinklers. Whoop Whoop. :)

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The kits from Home Depot are very affordable and easy to install(with a trencher). The controller is programmable up to two cycles a day. All the fittings are compression style so no specialty tools are needed. The lines have check valve drains at the lowest point so the system is not pressurized all the time & drains after every use. Last season they worked extremely well, i'm anxious to see how much life I get out of them this go around. :thumbsup:

OnTheOxbow
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Re: growin' grass on the river

Post by OnTheOxbow » Wed Mar 06, 2019 8:07 pm

September 1st 2018 was a rather busy weekend, shockingly not in the yard though. The yard projects were on hold, I had a wedding to attend, and if it would have been anybody else's wedding I likely would have skippied it, but this was my wedding and I wouldn't miss it for the world! Although it stormed and rained most of the afternoon and right through the ceremony, it didn't damper the event at all. It turned out beautifully, if I do say so myself! :D

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Now I bet you're wondering, where is the newly wed couple going on their honeymoon? Honeymoon you say? I'm dead smack dab in the middle of a whole yard renovation and you think i'm going to take honeymoon? No chance of that happening. I've still got wayy to much to get done before seed down. Luckily my wife is very supportive and was more than okay with postponing the honeymoon to a later date. Thanks babe.

I wanted to plant some landscaping and establish a rough flowerbed, mainly to keep the grass seed out of this area when I seeded. I figured while I was at it, I might as well put in some landscape lighting. I had zero experience doing either but nothing like the present time to learn. I skipped youtube on this one and went straight to a local nursery. I had a very good conversation with the knowledgable staff and together we picked out about 4 plants that would thrive in my environment. I wanted to keep it simple and balanced. Not too many plants, not too crowded, just clean and simple while giving everything plenty of room to grow and mature.

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The staff at the nursery suggested I put in drip irrigation to all the new plants. According to them, the time and money invested to install drip irrigation now would more than pay for itself down the road. It's a good way to water and you'll save tons of time from watering with a hose. Sounds reasonable, i'm in. My list of things to do is growing instead of shrinking. Luckily it's consistently 95 degrees outside, a little too warm to plant grass so I have time. Or not, because I have to work in that heat nevertheless. :x I planted 32 plants and supplied each one with its own drip irrigation emitter.

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For the landscape lighting, I chose LED from Kichler. I chose a 200 watt transformer, plenty of power for this project and room for expansion. I wanted to accent the stone chimney on the front of the house, for that I chose a wall wash fixture. I wanted to balance this lighting on the left side so I chose to wall wash the brick section as well. The paver sidewalk needed to be illuminated for a number of reasons; 1) so people know where to go at night 2)for safety and 3) my main reason, because I was proud of it. The side walk is 8 feet wide therefore I didn't think path lighting would be enough to light it up. I decided to use spot lights and bounce them back and forth across the path. I placed a path light here and there throughout the flower beds just to add some ambient light. Lastly, I added one more spot light pointed at the roof of the house to make the white trim of the roof light pop. :nod:

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Anybody thats tried to take a good picture of landscape lighting knows how difficult it is. Accurately capturing the lighting is nearly impossible. (to me anyway) I don't think the lighting looks anything like this is real life, but this is the best picture I got. Getting really close to seed down time! :mrgreen:

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Suburban Jungle Life
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Re: growin' grass on the river

Post by Suburban Jungle Life » Thu Mar 07, 2019 7:37 am

Loving this! The suspense is killer!

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EvanK
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Re: growin' grass on the river

Post by EvanK » Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:55 pm

Beautiful home and property! It sure came together quickly too!

If you were still concerned with getting light to that upper story, you could also consider using gutter mounts for the lights.

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Evan Kruk
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Factory Direct Outdoor Lighting

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