Happy June from Desert Rose! This month’s blog is the final part of our three part series on a landscape we completed last year. The backyard was the largest part of this landscape, which required quite a bit of attention and time. To start, the yard had a slope that needed to be changed in order to accommodate the dramatic changes that were about to take place. Phil was ready to work with his Kubota tractor and moved lots of dirt around (and yes, he did look like a big kid playing in the dirt). The purpose of this was to move dirt from areas that needed to be leveled and take those to even out areas which needed to be raised. After a couple days of work with the tractor the dirt work was complete.
While Phil was doing this, we had some crews digging out the bamboo by the roots to prevent this invasive plant from returning. The dirt in the area was also removed after the roots were pulled out to ensure that the bamboo did not return. After this, we knocked down the stucco flowerbed and prepped it for the landscape block. Chicken wire on the bottom of the flowerbed to prevent gophers and then it was time to start stacking the block. Once the block was done and the glue on the capstone was set, we filled the bed with fresh, amended soil.
To achieve the next step of the project we had a crew of two guys working to cut flagstone pieces for several days so the pathways and patios in the backyard would go as smoothly and as quickly as possible. The amount of flagstone used in the backyard alone was astounding and possibly one of the largest flagstone jobs Desert Rose has tackled. We had two crews of two guys removing the brick from underneath the porch and hauling them out. This resulted in approximately eight to ten truck loads of brick that had to be removed from the house. The railroad ties were removed and hauled away as well as the wooden steps in front of the studio door. The large vine to the left of the bamboo was cut down and dug up. The wooden fence and lattice that it was growing on was also removed, so that a new picket fence could be built in its place. The client also wanted us to reuse some of the brick to make an area in front of the fence so he can store his firewood.
Next, a crew began to make trenches to line out where the landscape block would go. Once we had the trenches done, we tamped and prepped them for the block. We had two guys working on laying and leveling the block while three others used wheelbarrows to bring the block from the front yard to the backyard. It took almost an entire day of running back and forth due to the amount of block we were working with. After the block work was done, it was time to cut each capstone to fit together and glue each piece to the block - this required approximately 18 large landscape glue tubes to get the job done. The steps to the studio and the steps to the porch were replaced with the same landscape block as the block wall. They were capped with cut and chiseled flagstone that were glued to the block.
Now it was time to start planting. We brought in a very large Locust tree, Blue Spruce, and a medium sized Pine tree to add some height to the area that was going to be graveled. We made large mounds around the basins of all the plants to hold water as the client wanted to hand water the plants instead of setting up a drip system. We planted a Karl Forester to the right of the studio so there wouldn’t be a bare spot. Next, we filled the flowerbed to the left of the door with similar plants to the flower bed on the right. We trenched out the dry river bed and prepped the entire bottom area for gravel by raking out any large debris and placing weed barrier.
Phil got back on the Kubota and used it to bring the gravel from the front yard to the back. The front bucket can hold more than two wheelbarrows of gravel, which is a much faster option! Phil decided to use small Santa Fe Brown gravel on the lower portion of the yard, which helps to add additional contrast to the landscape block and flagstone. While he transported the gravel, we had several workers level out the dumped gravel using hard rakes. Once the dry river bed was in place, we took a break from bringing the small gravel and switched to the river rock. It took about 15 trips with the Kubota (approx. 30 wheelbarrows) worth of river rock to fill the dry river bed. We got two guys to start spreading the rock in the dry river bed while Phil and another guy continued to finish the small gravel.
After several days of cutting and hand chiseling the flagstone it was time to start setting the it. The area under the porch, the area to the left of the tree (inside the block circle) and the area in front of the studio were all leveled with basecourse (which helps to provide a foundation to support the top layers of the pavement), after which it was tamped down and the flagstone was leveled with sand. The guys started laying out the flagstone from where they left off (check out last month’s blog for more details!) and continued to lay out all the flagstone in the backyard. This took several days of very hard, tiring work. Once all the flagstone was leveled it was time to finish up the job with the last bit of gravel. We brought in the same Pueblo Rose that we used in the front and side yard and laid it around the flagstone (but not in the raised flowerbeds). For the raised flowerbed, we used the same Santa Fe Brown that we used on the lower level of the back yard to add to the contrast of block, stucco, and flagstone. Once all that was done it was finally time to clean up.
Most people don’t consider cleaning part of landscaping but just like all the prep work, this final step adds the finishing touch to a great landscape. Clean up isn't just picking up our tools and putting them away (even though there is a ton of rakes, shovels, grinders, chisels etc.) - there are also several other things that must me done. We need to make sure all the plants have been watered multiple times (since we were on this project for so long), blow all pathways to remove what we can of the dust from the grinders and flagstone (sorry we don't clean windows, we just blow them off), and wet down all the gravel to wash the dirt to the bottom leaving the proper color of gravel showing.
Once the project is completed either Phil or the lead supervisor will walk the property with the client to ensure everything is to the clients liking. Once the client gives the final approval the crew leave and the landscape is complete! The client then receives the final bill and is offered a maintenance contract to help maintain the look of the newly landscaped yard. The maintenance contract is an additional monthly cost that we highly recommend to help maintain the look of your yard. It varies from house to house but includes a visit from our maintenance crew from once a week to once every two weeks depending on the yard and client’s needs.
We hope this blog series has provided some insight into the subtleties that go into a completed landscaping project. It is a lot of hard work, very time consuming, and takes a lot of planning and preparation before anything is started. However, if this all seems overwhelming, we are always here to help transform your yard! Just give us a call or shoot us an email and we will be happy to serve your landscape needs!