Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Garden in a Box

The City of Greeley is hosting a really cool program called Garden in a Box.  This is a program that offers a predesigned plant bed and plants for one lump sum.  If you are a City of Greeley citizen you can get a discount of $25.00 off the purchase price.  The plant materials in these kits have been chosen for their hardiness and suitability in our area.  I recommend giving it a try!  Hurry and  make your order they are set for delivery May 18th.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Irrigation Installation: Phase II Mainline Installation

The next step in the installation of your irrigation system is to have the mainline installed.  This is the largest line in your irrigation system and carries water to all of the laterals.  For this installation a pipe puller was called in to do the work.  This is the yellow machine you see below.
Installing the main and laterals in this fashion has many advantages.  The number one being that you do not have to spend hours breaking your back digging trenches.  This machine essentially pulls the pipe through the ground with a combination of force and vibration.  A wire mesh that looks much like one of those Chinese finger traps grabs the end of the line and pulls it trough the earth at precisely the right depth.  The second major advantage is that the surface disturbance is minimal so there is no reseeding of trenches in areas of established vegetation.

While the machine is pulling the pipe  through, someone holds the coil on the other end feeding it as needed.  Its important to note that this machine will pull through just about anything.  Including a shallow electric line.
This is the main electric that feeds my house!  Typically they are much deeper than the depth that the mainline would be pulled in at.  This one was marked and accurate, just not very deep.  My house was built in 1919. While I am sure the electrical has been updated since then, who knows what kind of surface grading has occurred making the line shallower than expected.  You can see below where the electricity arched through this quarter inch steel bar on the pipe puller.  It blew the breaker on the pole in the street and no one got hurt.

So even if you have your lines marked, things can still happen.  The procedure here is to call the electrical company out to do the repair.  While on site doing the repair, they will file a report to decide who is as fault. If the contractor is found to be negligent, they will fine the contractor.  I have no idea if the contractor was fined.  I can definitely confirm he was none to happy about the incident.  I'm sure any fines will cancel the profit he made in my yard.  If you did not get your utilities marked and subsequently caused damage to any of the electrical services you will definitely be fined so remember: Call Before You Dig!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Garden Safely: Utility Locates

Before you do any digging in your yard, you should call for you utility locates.  In Colorado, the quick number is 811.  Its a simple, FREE and important process.  Typically you want to call about 7-10 days before you dig.  An operator will ask you for your address and some questions about the type of work you intend to do.  If you are contracting the work, your contractor should be responsible for this process.  It still does not hurt to make sure he intends to do so. This one phone call will mobilize the major utilities to your residence to mark the utilities with paint and flags. Locates are important for two reasons: 1) to keep you safe! 2) address liability.  If you do not call in locates and you damage a line,  the cost and responsibility is on you!  My house is old.  I have encountered major utilities within 8" of the surface.  These are not typical depths, but grading over the years has changed the lay of the land.  So even if you think you won't be at depths that you would encounter utilities, it does not cost you a thing to make sure this will not be an issue even if you are just planting a shrub!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Irrigation Installation: Phase 1 Backflow Preventer

After ten years of hose dragging I am ready to join the followers of automated irrigation.  The realization that this half acre property is not going to make the next step to curb side oasis without it is a reality and a battle I am ready to give up.  I am tired of spending every evening pulling hoses and setting the oven timer trying to stay on top the needs of my yard.  I want to play with my 5 year old and go camping without the worry that the yard will be crispy when I get back.  The first step in that process is the installation of a backflow preventer.
In an effort to spread out the costs of the system installation I had mine installed in the fall of last year.  This part of the project must be installed by a licensed plumber.  Its purpose is primarily to prevent the backflow of stagnant or potentially contaminated water from your irrigation system into your household.  The cost was roughly $350.00.

I have a basement so this shut off valve and drain is installed inside in the basement allowing it to gravity drain.  In the fall the valve is turned to the off position as shown and the spigot is opened to allow water to drain out of the outside portion.  This prevents freezing and damage to the back flow in winter.  

The next step in this process will be the installation of the system in the yard.  I am just about giddy with excitement!