Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Backyard Project: Work Continues on the Pathways

How to move gravel efficiently. 
Josh, in the Bobcat, Dave and Taylor, behind the wheelbarrows, have come up with an efficient way to move a lot of gravel.

Josh loads up the bucket with gravel while Dave and Taylor line up their wheelbarrows. Josh then empties the bucket into both wheelbarrows at once. 
The Arbour is large enough for Josh to get the Bobcat into where the gravel is needed next.

Another mid-sized pathway is covered with gravel.

Josh has levelled out the soil and rocks on the pathway up to the Garden Sheds, cutting and filling as needed.

Dave marks on the rock the depth of gravel needed.

Excess loose stones and rocks are placed on the west side of the path to build a random rock edge.

The lawn tractor has to be able to get up this path so I used the longest path-guide stick to mark out its boundaries. While keeping out of the way of others I made an edge of interlocked rock to contain the gravel and define the garden edge. This edge of larger placed rocks contrasts with the small random rock wall on the other side of the path.

The placing of the gravel gets easier as the crew work closer to where the gravel was dumped.

The Bobcat can reach up to the Garden Sheds to drop loads for the flat work area.

In the meantime, Sammy has made the first delivery of local slate he sourced from a quarry in Sooke. 

It is called Renfrew slate and has lots of greys and browns in it. Perfect.

They have started laying the slate on the bridge to the Pergola.
The changes seem to happen so quickly this week.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Backyard Project: Spreading the Gravel Transforms the Space

Everyone was excited by the transformation that took place as each path was cleared of rocks, levelled then covered with gravel. Josh, Dave and Taylor worked very hard wheelbarrowing loads of gravel, levelling and compacting.

The finished Pergola area compared with the rough path in the foreground.


The Arbour. No more stumbling over rocks and into holes. And the gravel makes the right sound when I walk on it. However, it is not friendly to bare feet.

Arbour path and Pergola. It was in the plan the Gravel Bed rocks would be lighter in value than the paths to make it read further away and deeper than it is. Also, the different value keeps the 2 'rooms' separate.

I used the longest path-guide stick to mark out the edge of the path with blue tape. This is a path the lawn tractor uses to enter the back yard through the cedar gate.


Sammy Kent, the owner of Pacific Ecoscapes, arrived with his team and started the preparation work on the hard surface for the Pergola area. 

Josh and Taylor prep the main path to my studio. I used the middle-sized path-guide stick to mark out its shape. It is a walking path 2 can walk along together and it can also accommodate a wheelbarrow.

Sammy worked with Josh's team advising on the best construction method for the landscape.

The log edges tie the studio beds to the log edges around the Hugel-kultur beds. They define the edge of the meadow areas and the add to the symmetry of the inviting approach to the Studio. They also help to make the Studio front door obvious.

The 2 main equipment items needed for the hard labour of moving and placing gravel are a wheelbarrow and a compactor.

It was decided to put a permeable cloth under the back path to the studio to restrict the growth of plants growing up through the gravel.

I had used the shortest path-guide stick to mark out this path. It is made for one person to walk along. It is my short route to the Studio when it is raining. Once the plants have matured it will barely be visible.

There was enough fabric to line the main path to the studio as well. With fabric down the gravel doesn't need to be as deep, only about 2 inches compared with the other paths that need over 3 inches of gravel to stop plants growing in it.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Playing Tourists At Home When Company Comes

You know how it is - you visit the local sites when company comes.
The most popular place to visit with our company is Butchart Gardens which are not far from home.
From early spring there is a spectacular show of blooms until late in the fall.

Japanese Garden
Every visit I see landscaping ideas.

Here is a multi-functional edging that fits my garden design requirements.

Shakkei design in Butchart Gardens - a Japanese garden design concept literally meaning 'the borrowing of scenery.' The garden elements - a round hole in a cedar hedge - take advantage of appealing elements in the distant landscape - the tranquil Todd Inlet with boats.

Within its well-designed gardens, Butchart offers the wide range of scale designers aim for - the micro view of a bloom at one's feet to the macro view of plantings across the expanse of a worked out quarry.

Another popular spot we take our company is Sooke Harbour House after a drive through a forest and along the shoreline. I love to search out the newest art in the garden as well as checking their organic food gardens.
This aged, split cedar screen does the job of screening off a temporary event tent giving some privacy to those on either side.

And of course, there is the art littered everywhere inside Sooke Harbour House.
Having company keeps us continuing to explore where we live when we find the new and re-explore when we thought was familiar.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Backyard Project: The Path Gravel Arrives

Beep Beep Beep Beep
A truck is backing up the track, guided by Josh.
Yipee, the gravel has arrived.

Josh has set out some of the larger plywood pieces to form a barrier to restrict the flow of gravel when it is dumped.

Dumping the gravel.


When the driver hopped out I asked if she was Jen. But no. The owner named his company after his daughter Jen and son Cam. 
I'm sorry I have forgotten the driver's name because she is very good. She arrived on time, took great care backing up the track and didn't touch any of the landscaping rocks with her truck.

Discussions about the current road conditions and the time the driver estimates she will be back with the 2nd load of gravel.

That's it - 3 loads of gravel.
Now the hard work starts.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Backyard Project: Sorting, Recycling, Reusing - the Waste Materials



It is time to sort through the construction waste materials.
Josh took all larger pieces of plywood to use on his next job site. It is useful for making the form work. He didn't have to buy much more plywood for the form work because he reused a lot from the construction of the Green Shed.
All of the smaller pieces of plywood and all painted wood was piled up to be taken away in the garbage trailer. It is all the wood with glues and chemicals that are not safe to burn.

The garbage trailer also took away plastics used to wrap supplies, hold glue and cover curing cement.
I presume it will go to the local landfill where the trailer will be weighted and we will be charged according to that weight.

The left over blasted rock in the background will be used to edge paths.
I used some of the broken pavers as stepping stones in some of the garden beds but most of them, along with the waste concrete, was stacked under the Green Shed's Contemplation Room, there if we ever need it. Because of its weight, it would have cost a lot of money to dispose of in the landfill and there wasn't enough to warrant a dump truck taking it all the way to the quarry for recycling.

Taylor tackled the remaining waste wood pile. He and Josh had reused it so many times on the job the remaining pieces were just smallish off cuts.

I measured the sizes of our 2 fireplaces to find out the maximum length of wood each to take. Taylor then used these 2 numbers to make the best cuts in the remaining wood. Here he is making 2 stacks with longer pieces on the right and shorter pieces on the left.

It was pointed out to me we would be paying for Taylor's time to cut this wood. I pointed out how much it costs to have a pickup truck load of firewood delivered. Also, I was not comfortable with paying for this wood to go into a landfill when we could use it.

Josh used the forks attachment on the Bobcat to move the bundle of long pieces up to the patio area and put it as close as he could to where it was needed.

Ron then moved each piece and re stacked it beside the chimney. Notice the air holes he has left to help keep the wood dry.

The last couple of trees that fell during the winter storms have been cut up, some of it in suitable lengths for firewood. This called 'hucking' the log. These lengths are left to dry out for a bit or not (there are different schools of thought on this) then Ron splits them. He dumps them behind the propagation table and it is my job to crawl under and stack the wood. It will be protected behind the glass and the bottom part will allow air to circulate.
Locating the firewood stack here is another function of the Propagation Room and it solves the previous problem of there being nowhere to stack firewood near where it was needed. The fireplace is inside the house to the left. 
Plus I love the look of stacked firewood as a design feature and for other reasons.

When a tree falls or needs to be cut down for safety reasons we now have a standard order for cutting it up. If it is still standing we ask to leave about 15 to 20 feet standing and hope it will become a wildlife tree. The tree above fell over and its root area will be left as is because the disturbed soil stimulates all sorts of soil organism and plant activity. 
Next the widest part of the trunk is hucked into lengths to later be split for firewood. The next section of about 15 feet is left lying on the ground as a nurse log to support new growth in the forest. The next part is cut into 5 inch rounds and I use these for making 'gardener's paths' to give access into the middle of the wider garden beds. Depending on the length of the tree there may be another section for firewood. The last part of the trunk I use the small sections as edges for garden beds. The branches are cut off and left insitu to protect young plants in the undergrowth eventually rotting down to feed the soil. 
When I explain what I want to the most obliging forester it reminds me of giving the butcher the order when cutting up a whole animal.

Ron is stacking the shorter lengths of construction waste firewood under the inside of the propagation table. I didn't want to be able to see it from the outside thinking it would not look very attractive but he has done such a neat job I think it looks lovely.
So that is the story about managing the waste materials from the Backyard Project construction site.