The water tank arrived at the house safely the other day. There's a picture of it above, next to the house. Earlier today, I pulled it out to clean it up and rinse out the inside.
The image below shows the octagon frame that the tank will sit inside. My idea is that the tank needs to be raised just a bit so that I can water the garden via a gravity feed. So the guy at the pump shop where I bought the tank had an idea to build a frame that will contain pea gravel, then the tank can sit on top of that. It will be sturdy, flat and relatively level. I don't have to worry about the frame needing to support any weight since the pressure of the full tank will be directed straight down, not down and out. The frame will only need to contain the pea gravel.
In order to make that frame, I had to find out what the formula is for determining the length of the sides of a regular octagon if I have the diameter from the middle of opposite sides. Googling around, I found a formula I could work with and determined a length. Rita had the good idea to double check my work with a mechanical engineer friend, who came up with a) a simpler way to do the calculation, and b) an answer that was almost half of what I came up with. Good thing I checked!
I rounded up to lessen the waste of the cuts of wood, but didn't use my brain when making the cuts. I took 360 degrees and divided by eight (angles), which gave me 45 degrees. Well, if you have a couple of 45's, you get a 90 degree joint. I remedied that blunder by pulling out the table saw, setting the angle of the blade to 22.5 degrees (roughly) and removing some material that slightly shortened the outside length. Then things started fitting much more as I had expected.
A couple of screws at each joint brought it all together. Now to go calculate how much pea gravel I need (area of an octagon, anyone?).
As of today, our landscape project is officially done. Done from the contractor's perspective.
He and one of his foreman came by today to put some finishing touches on the post rock. He asked me if there was anything else to do, any questions or details to finish up. Other than adjusting the latch on the gate and moving one of the wine barrel planters, that really was it. I sat down, calculated what I owed him, cut a check and that was it.
It took just under a total of eight weeks. Compared to the whole house remodel, we were done quickly. It will be a bit weird NOT having guys showing up every day anymore, working on various things around the yard.
As expected, he asked me if I wanted his guys to come back every week or every two weeks to do maintenance. Now that I'm completely broke again, I told him I will get back to him when I'm ready for that. Rita, on the other hand, would LOVE to have them come to maintain the yard...!
One of the things that was part of the overall landscaping project was to finish off the inside of the patio cover. It was partially done during the major construction, the sections that are part of the house, but the rest was left raw with the posts and beams exposed. Our plan was to finish it off with the same knotty pine 8" tounge and groove planks. In the picture below, you can see the ceiling of the patio cover half finished, the after (left) and the before (right). (Click the images to see bigger versions.)
In the picture below, you can see how the patio cover looks in relation to the rest of the house.
The deal with the landscape contractor was that his big was for labor only, and I'd have to fork out for the materials ourselves. No problem, that's how we did the major home remodel and we're used to that. So I met his guys at Southern Lumber, they picked out what we needed and how much of the different pieces, and I paid for it.
Now that it's done (looks good, btw), we had a lot of leftovers. They seriously overestimated the need. That's not a bad thing in general, better to have too much than to run out and have to stop work. And, Southern Lumber accepts returns (I checked before buying it!). Only thing is, I had to transport all the lumber back to the store across town.
It took me three trips over three days to get it back there. In my Tacoma pickup, I could only fit so many 16 foot boards. But as of this morning, all of it's now back safely at the store, and I got my money back. Doing some quick calculations, I estimate that in terms of cost, about 23% of the material was returned.
I'm getting a bit good at packing the truck with lumber and safely transporting across bumpy city streets!
Part of the landscape project includes a system that will harvest rainwater. Yes, I realize that water from the pipe is cheap and it will be decades before we recoup the cost of installing this system, but a), now is the time, and b) we live in a desert so we should be doing what we can to retain some of the water that falls free from the sky when the short and sometimes unpredictable rainy season is upon us.
The system works like this: Most of the downspouts from the gutters, from over half of our roof area, funnels into an underground cistern. This underground bucket is only about 5 gallons in volume, but it's more of a staging area for all the water to collect so it can begin the next part of its journey. Inside the cistern, there is a half horsepower sump pump with a float, so that it pumps only when the water level begins to rise.
The output from the cistern is an underground pipe that sends the pumped water across the yard. From there, it goes up to the top of a 550 gallon water holding tank where it spills into. The tank is slightly elevated so that when the time comes to use the water, it will be gravity fed.
The idea is to use this reclaimed water to irrigate the crops in our garden during the summer. However, since we live in earthquake country, we can also use the water during emergency situations for cooking, cleaning and even drinking after being properly filtered.
Yesterday, Harold and I took a drive down to Gilroy to a pump and well installation shop that stocks all sizes of water containment tanks. They had one 550 gallon tank left in their yard. That's a picture of it you see above. I bought it and our landscape contractor will pick it up tomorrow and deliver it to the house.
I have some ideas on how to install the tank, sitting on a raised bed of pea gravel, but our contractor may have his own, better ideas, which he is known for. We have room for another one of these tanks, but upon the sage advice from Rita, we will take it slow and go with this one tank for now to see how it works out. If all goes great through the winter months, on into next summer's dry growing season, we may get another one and hook them up in parallel.
I'll report back with the details as we move forward with the installation of the system.
Over three years after the major remodel completed, early last month we embarked on the next and final phase of remodeling, which is the landscape. We've been living in a half completed, transitional yard that was awaiting the major project which would be reconfiguring the front, back and side yards.
Earlier this summer, we found a landscape designer that we could work with who didn't charge way too much for the privilege of his or her earned degrees or certifications. She worked with us to put a set of drawings in place from which a contractor could implement the plan. After we had a near final set of plans, we passed them out to some landscape contractors but finally ended up hiring the first one that we had serious discussions with, one who has worked with our designer in the past.
In early September, we got started and the army of workers showed up with their demolition tools, including a Bobcat tractor, and the tear up and cleanup commenced.
As we are now nearing the end of October, we are getting close to being done with the landscape project. And what a change, what an improvement it's made.
You can see all the pictures we've been taking during the process, posted to a Flickr set. There are a lot of pictures, and they may or may not be in chronological order. But be sure to check out the two minute video of a walk through of the yards just as demolition was beginning.
Yes, I've been lax in getting around to posting about it, given the magnitude of the changes we are making, and the cost, in terms of both money and effort. But now that a lot of it is behind us, and we are supervising many final details, I hope to post a little bit more often, relating interesting aspects that should be documented on their own.