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Big Yard Improvement

When I got to to house the yards had been neglected for a year or so.  Then I neglected the yard for another year.  This left me in the position of basically starting from scratch and that is the porition I took.  Below are some before pictures of of the front yard.

wide house before  (20K)

In this picture you can see the 2 big cyprys trees on either side of the house.  Each tree is about 30-40 feet tall and completely dead.  So the first step was to take them down.  Behind the house right over the PacSat truck is a big mulberry tree in the back yard.

Before drive way  (19K)
Here is a slighty different view.  Dan's truck is on the far left, my green pick up and the sat truck in the driveway, and Rod's van on the far right.  There's just is not enough room to park all our vehicles comfortably.  Directly behind Dan's truck and in front of the dead cyprus tree is a perfectly good strip of dead lawn it is a great place for a third drive way.

Before Lawn  (32K)
Here is a beautiful color shot of the front lawn.  Well yes it is completely dead.  All the grass is dead and even the weeds that tried to grow are dead.  I am planning on putting in some desert landsdcaping that is very low maintance.  In order for that to work well I need to remove some of the dirt.  You can see in this picture that the dirt has a bit of a hill to it.  This hill does not work well for rocks.  All the rocks will slowly roll down the hill,  into the sidewalk, and on to the street. Then the no maintance yard becomes and weekly sweep up job.  This is one of the leasons I learned by walking around the neighborhood.

Before Cat Box (33K)
Here is the back yard and the famous cat box,  This box in the back yard was a waist high planter in a former life.   I want this area to be grass.  We call it the cat box because all the neighborhood cats would come ove and "use" it.  This lawn has some built in sprinklers BUT is was the most messed up system I had ever seen.  Even the house inspector who looked over my house would not approve the sprinklers.  At the very corner of the house you can just make out some bricks sticking out of the ground.  In that hole are 4 splinkler valves, but to make them work you had to drag over the garden hose and turn that on.  There were about 6 spots all over the grounds where the garden hose would plug in.  What a waste of time.

The Work Begins

The trees go First

Treen coming Down (20K)
Tree Mulch (26K)
Here go the 40 foot cyprus trees.  First they chopped them down and then fed them in to the multcher.  this didn't take long at all.  Both trees came down and were turned into saw dust in about 1 hour.  Had to park all the trucks across the street so the work could bet done.  The tree guys then followed up by grinding the stumps down about 6 inches below the dirt.  When they were done you couldnot even tell there was a tree there.  Below is how the house looked with the trees gone.
Trees Gone (14KK)


The the Dirt

Bobcat front (25K)
Here is the Bobcat, that is the brand name of loader in my yard.  He dug out 4 dump truck loads of dirt and lowered the level of the yard about 3 inches down from the side walk and in the middle of the yard that was about 8 inches.  He also cleared out the space for another drive way.  This process took all day from sun up to sun down.  Two loads of dirt had to go to that land fill, 2 other loads went to the Chandler Train Meseum.  They needed the dirt to help build some more track.

This is roughly what the frot yard will look like.  These are the white/gold rocks in the front yard.  The bigger cactus is a Fire Barrel and the little one is a Fish Hook  They are both barrel cactus, that means they will stay short and no arms.  Behind the cactus a small palm tree.  This is a Medeterarian Palm.  It will grow rather slow but become more bushy than tall.  The rocks still need to be spread out a bit more but I have to put in an irrigation system for the palm and the bushes against the house.


The Back Yard

Dan on the Cat box (18K)
Here is the famous cat box.  Earlier I told you why we call it the cat box.  Here you get a pretty good idea of how big it is.  It was our plan to go out one afternoon with a few sledge hammers and just take the thing down.  Well the top row of bricks come off fairly easily.   Our friend Mike even came over with his own hammer and started pummeling away.  The block broke up fairly easily, but all the block was filled with concrete and then reinforced with iron bars.  This thing was even set in a concrete foundation.  Then we found we had a lot more dirt that anticipated.  Befor long the job became just to big for mere humans and I had to call in heavy equipment.
Dan and Mike  (20K)

Bobcat in back  (32K)
The bobcat came around to the back and in about 1 hour pulled out 24 rebar posts and completely removed the entire thing.  He also removed all the little bits of concrete around the box.  There was a 2 foot walk way around the thing.  You can also see in theis picture the sprinkler plugin.  On the right side there are some bricks sticking up, just to the right of that is where the garden hose pluggs-in to run the irrigation system.  Above that hanging from the roof you can see the out door lighting that I installed a few months ago.

Rod Tilling  (45K)
After the Oscars I took a week vacation to work on the house.  First rented a roto-tiller.  This breaks up the dirt, mixes in the weeds, and makes the dirt workable.  This is my room mate Rodd tearing up the back yard.  It took us about 4 hours to go over the entire back yard twice.  After all the weeds were rooted up I spent the next day raking and leveling and weeding the yard.  I pulled enough weeds out to fill up the back of my pick up truck.
I didn't take any pictures of it but the next day I rented a ditch digger and trenched the lawn for sprinklers.  This was much more fun than the tiller.  Then Mike came over and we took about 2 days to put in the sprinklers.  That took so long because I had about six trips to the store for the one last missing part and the last 3 feet of plastic pipe.  But all the sprinklers are now all installed and working.


Drive way

Pouring drive (24K)
While I was working in the back yard I hired a crew to pour a new drive way for me in front.
Cement truck (26K)
They pulled a cement truck up to my house and laied it all in.  It took a while to get it done because the sunny weather in Phoenix would not coperate.  Four hours after this was poured under partly cloudy skies it poured rain.  Yes they coverd the drive way with plastic and all is well.  The big dirt pile is called ABC it is special dirt for filling in under the cement.  The crew spread that out first to give the cement a solid foundation and to set the grade for the cement.  With a flat even bottom the cement will pour an even 4 inches all through the slab.  The blue buckets are our recycle containers.



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