Maintenance Information

If you are searching for particular maintenance information, please see the blogs for the months that correspond to the time frame that you are searching. Also check the labels of the blogs (at the base of the blog page) for blog subjects that might be helpful.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tinkering with Irrigation

The hot weather is upon us and I have been out tinkering with the irrigation.
I thought I would check for overspray, adjust heads and work on adding drippers to pots.

You can adjust radius on sprinkler heads (somewhat) using a small screwdriver to turn the little
srew on the top of the sprinkler head/nozzle. This will adjust the throw of the water farther out or reduce it down a bit. My heads were throwing a lot of water onto the paving so in an effort to save water and avoid hitting walking folk I adjusted them down. I will now check periodically and see if the adjustment resulted in some of the plants not getting watered.

If you have a drip hose in, it is easy to add drip emitters and drip feeder tubes for added pots or plants. Only a hole puncher and parts are needed so this is an easy fix. To add a new drip hose and drip feeder tubes a valve with filter and pressure regulator is needed or you can run drip off of a hose bib with a battery operated 1 station controller (Gardena makes these). The slow watering is great for narrow areas and pots. I really like soaker hose too and it can be run in the same way.

As the garden has grown in and areas have been changed I have a few spots with plants blocking heads and one spot where a head waters nothing at all. That one was easy to fix. Using a tall threaded riser I just dug down and unscrewed the existing head and riser and put in the new riser with a cap for now so it can be used in future if needed.

The head that was blocked by a plant needed to have the riser extended up with a pop-up or shrub head on top so it can spray over the offending shrub. Not too pretty but it works. If I am worried about aesthetics I either move the head over or use a high-pop (taller head).

Other checks I have been doing are to work on leaky heads, clogged heads or drippers and leaky valves. Some of these are easy fixes- tightening screw on areas of heads or valves, using seal tape on threaded areas, removing nozzles and cleaning them out, and replacing worn or broken parts. Replacing valves is a pain and I usually have one of my contractor buddies come over and help me do those. I hate working on valve manifolds. ugh.

Overall, this work will help to save water, avoid water damage to areas and increase the efficiency of the irrigation system. I usually work on the system once a year about now then make small checks during the growing season to check for breaks.

The good part is that you get sprayed by water sometimes to cool you down!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Handrail Project

Steep Stairs? No Problem- well,
at least not after figuring out how to build it!
We are all getting older and so a
handrail was needed on the steep stairs going up to my Mom's House.
She lives up in Marin and it is not a garden spot. Between the thin soil, hords of Deer, very large Hares, Gophers and drought it is a challenge to say the least. But it is a beautiful spot and we love it there. My Mom and Dad built the house and the concrete stair going up to it about 50 years ago. About 30 years ago we got lights for the stair and now the time has come to have a handrail.
It was quite a thinker to figure out how to build one as the stair is very wide, there is an electrical line under the ground on one side plus stones in the way and the other side has a concrete gutter. The budget did not allow for the hiring of a contractor so Lois had to put on her thinking cap.
This became quite the green project! We recycled these old clay drain pipes (rectangular boxes) from the property as post bases to pour concrete in. I had some long 2x6 redwood planks that we sanded down for the cap and we purchased the 2x4 running boards that sandwich the posts.
I used 2" diameter sch 40 pvc for the posts and spray painted them with some paint I had.
The reason for the plastic round posts was to allow for the rail to be able to turn slightly at angle
to follow the stair as it goes up (with wood we would have had to route the posts- no tools for that!
We put lovely polished stones, left over from my daughters table settings for her wedding, in the surface of the concrete and left a cavity to plant some succulents in the front of the boxes.
To hold back the concrete I scrounged some leftover wood from another project and we used old bricks to hold it in place.
The wood was bolted through the plastic pipe and the rail was screwed on. The hard parts were getting the holes to line up right with the angle of the stairs and mixing and pouring the concrete.
Luckily I had some helpers- my younger daughter and her boyfriend really saved the day and my back! Mom was out there too supervising, sanding and placing pebbles.
The finished product may be somewhat rustic but I think it goes with the place and it does a great job helping us up the stairs. It was great to utilize a lot of things we had and to work it out to be compatible with Lois' skillset!