June 21, 2012

Major change in my back yard

We'd talked for years about installing a duck pond and building some sheds behind our house, as well as wished we could have a source of water at the top of the property. Over the past few weeks, we finally had Scott Land & Yard Services do all that. (It was supposed to be last year, but it never stopped raining last year....)

What are Konrad and Benjamin watching?.
What are Konrad and Benjamin watching?

Roughly, our goals were to:

  • Set things up so that we never needed heavy equipment to go up the hill beyond our house again. Much of our gardening is perennials and trees, so we're not eager to clear spaces repeatedly.

  • Build a secure place that our ducks might enjoy. The pond - empty for now because we have no ducks at the moment - is a start on the 'enjoy' part. I need to secure it with fencing and some gates through the water areas over the summer.

  • Set up infrastructure beyond the house. All of our outdoor electrical and water connections were on the house, and often not convenient. We also had an existing shed that could use electricity and water.

  • Avoid hauling gravel for future sheds. I'm planning to build a 10'x18' shed next to the chicken area with a chicken coop and storage for animal-related projects in one end, and a sink and work areas for things like processing eggs and honey in the other end. Eventually I'm also going to build a smaller shed on the edge of the forest to hold the often large and inconvenient tools for tree and wood management.

We also got two bonus pieces. Since we had the equipment here anyway, we had them add drainage where water seeps from the parking area onto the driveway. Hopefully that will end the annual winter glacier problem, and send that water to an area below the spruces where it might be useful. We've also rearranged our shed plans to take advantage of the path left by the machinery for future use, like hauling firewood down the hill.

By construction standards, this was a minor project with small equipment. By garden standards, it felt HUGE.

Digging the trench for water and power.
Digging the trench for water and power.

They did an excellent job working around our plants, though we still (of course) lost a few leeks and strawberries on the edges. Digging a trench below the frost line required a wider space than I would have guessed, but it was obvious once the dirt started moving why. The backhoe made short work of the duck pond at the very back of our house property.

Utility lines in the trench.
Utility lines in the trench.

A smaller machine, a Bobcat Mini Track Loader, helped them bring in gravel and fill in trenches with less impact than the larger backhoe. (Whitmore Fence had used something similar to dig post holes for our fence.)

Ethan fills in the trench with the Mini Track Loader.
Ethan fills in the trench with the Mini Track Loader.

Right now, the main obvious change is the water hydrants. They provide garden water - from our well, not the Bolton Point water that serves the house - all the way to the edge of the woods behind the house. One is next to the existing shed, while the other two are in the pads for the new sheds, and will provide service inside of them. All of them are frost-free hydrants.

Water hydrant works.
Water hydrant works.

There was one glitch. The hydrants worked, but only when the water on one of the garden faucets on the house was turned on. Otherwise, nothing happened. Duane Scott called Randolph Well & Pump, who'd installed this well long ago, and confirmed that there was an extra one-way valve in the pressure switch. He took out the valve, and everything works well now. (The well pump is also protected from burnout by an electric switch system Randolph put in years ago, so we shoudn't be endangering our pump.)

Now it's our turn. We'll be adding straw to reduce erosion while plants come in. We're starting to lay out a path up the hill and garden beds around it - wide enough to get equipment and things through, but much less than a road. I'll be fencing the duck pond sometime before winter, hopefully when it's cooler. I'm planning to build the first of the sheds, the bigger one, next year. We need to have an electrician come to do the connection to the existing shed sometime as well.

If you'd like to see (a lot) more, I've posted a gallery of pictures of the backyard change.

Posted by simon at June 21, 2012 5:45 PM in ,
Note on photos