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January & February 2005
Arizona Yard Tasks

The rains in late Summer of 2004 showed (once again) that certain areas of our property needed some modification.

But before we could get started on them we needed to fix a leak in our drip irrigation system. Our neighbor Shannon (who was being paid to monitor our system) had dug up the offending area and with her father, Dan, had tried to reconnect the 1-inch tubing that had come disconnected at a joint. Unfortunately the original length into the straight slip connector was not sufficiently long enough and so it required a splicing, for which they did not have the proper supplies. So we made this repair our first chore - within the first 10 days of our arrival.

Paul extends a temporary line before turning water back on after splice

Kitty took only this one photo of a job that took a couple hours to complete. Washing out the tubing of dirt that had gotten into the line was necessary, but not into the hole where the splice was located. So Paul extends a short run of old hose to a hole (that had housed a plant which had earlier died) for the water exit.

Can you see the mushrooms?

That same afternoon, while going to and fro from the garage during the irrigation line repair, Kitty spied some mushrooms in her path and paused to "capture" them. Mushrooms do show up in the desert when there's been a lot of rain and where the soil is less sandy. Can you see them?

For those who can't see the mushrooms - or just want a closer look....

See them now?

Paul made a miniature culvert under the walk tilePaul acknowledges Kitty’s approval of his work

The rains for years have washed the sandy soil from the higher area on either side of the front steps onto the steps themselves, often covering the tile completely. Paul and Kitty decided that extra roof tiles on the worst side could be used to create a better runoff onto the driveway itself.

Look at that rainSee the water run down the trough... see it go :-)

Paul had just finished the work when the threatening clouds let loose. Taking the tools back into the garage, he was also able to observe closely how well the new man-made "wash" ran with rain water - onto the driveway as planned, rather than the steps. Ground cover flowering plants were added to the incline a short time later and we are hopeful that the steps will now stay dirt-free.

The main culvert for our circular driveway has been inadequate since it was first built by Kitty's former husband who used 3 4-inch internal diameter pipes rather than 1 much larger one. As she recalls, he was unable to locate any large previously used ones the needed length. As might be expected, the small pipes frequently became blocked with debris and several times the water ran over the driveway causing significant erosion. After Paul and Kitty repaired in October the damage from two heavy rains last Summer, Paul decided that replacing the culvert and doing it properly was in order. Purchasing 2 8-foot lengths of 12-inch diameter culvert pipe allowed us to make use of our friend Jackemeyer's van to transport them on an early Saturday afternoon (rather than pay for delivery). (Jackemeyer - just plain "Jack"- is a periodic contributing commenter on SelfSIP writings at MoreLife Yahoo who also lives in central Arizona.) Then we all started in getting the old pipes out. Kitty worked too and just paused long enough at shoveling or rock removal to capture the effort on electrons in the following series of shots over two days.

Paul and Jack start on the southern end of the culvertLarge numbers of concrete blocks lay below the railroad tie and above the 3 pipes

Paul and Jack start the work on the southern end of the culvert, clearing away the dirt and exposing numerous concrete blocks that had been used as filler under the railroad tie (about 10 feet in length) at the surface.

2 8-foot lengths of culvert piping await their new home

Jack is making progress in opening up the driveway itself.

Paul removes lots of rocks, concrete block and dirt to expose 3 pipes on northern end

Paul starts work on the northern end of the culvert. Once all three pipes were fully exposed - a couple hours worth of digging - we removed them and decided to call it quits. It was about 4pm by that time and the new pipes could be put in place the next day. We then enjoyed a good meal and lots of stimulating conversation.

It’s cool enough to start off with a long sleeved shirt Getting sufficient dirt out the full length took a bit of time

We resumed work the next mid-morning. After an initial placement of one pipe, we could see that more dirt removal from sides and bottom was necessary for proper seating of the larger diameter, particularly of the connector that went around the abutting ends of each.

Getting the pipe under the railroad tie took some more dirt removal Paul clears away more dirt from the downside of the culvert to ensure proper water flow

Making sure that the pipe has a downward tilt so that water would easily flow through is important.

Paul holds one pipe so that Jack can line up the connector Paul lets Jack have the fun of tightening the connector

Once the two pipes are properly in place the connector is tightened making them a single unit.

Jack reuses old blocks as Paul did on the other end and along the length Back to the shovels and rake for filling in the open ditch containing the new culvert pipe Jack and Paul lug the old pipes to behind the outbuilding for some future use or disposal

By 2:15 we were getting rid of the old pipes behind the outbuilding (since then periodically "worried" around the back yard and even into the lane by loose dogs trying to get at animals that have taken refuge in them). Since it was still early we did a little more clearing of brush "upstream" in the same wash and ended the day with another round of great conversation over a good meal. It was a very profitable weekend for all 3 of us. ;>) The new and improved culvert worked beautifully when a heavy rain in March resulted in a flow of water in the washes - nothing blocked the inlet. Of course we'll still be monitoring the plant growth and removing bushes that tend to grow up right in that area.


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Initially posted 6/12/05
Page last updated 3/24/09
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