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Kenneth A. Larson has a quarter century of experience in design and construction of scenery for the Entertainment Industry and Theme Parks using Computer Aided and Traditional approaches to Design. Also experience in other areas of Design.
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Progress with New House

All photographs taken by Kenneth A. Larson. All rights reserved. © 2007 - 2013 .

Getting the new house ready and moving was a pain. I spent the first year moving and unpacking. I also finished and built a number of pieces of furniture and book shelves (2007). The second year was spent mostly on the front yard. I had a team of gardeners for four days removing trees and stumps, reshaped the hill after I removed the small retaining wall, and they left a huge pill of dirt and debris on the driveway and a huge pile of firewood in the back yard. (2008). The third year I mostly worked on the side hill. I cleared the side hill, added sprinklers, and built planters and steps on the hill. I enhanced the cactus garden and planted California native plants on the hill. I continued to the back hill adding more planters and steps. Then I cleared along the back fence, extended the vegetable garden to the back, and did some clean up. I started a wall part way around (3/4) the future water garden. After a year and a half, I finished clearing the huge pile of dirt off the driveway. I finished designing the studio which would have looked like a miniature mill, but Building and Safety would only let me build it full size and the structural engineer gave me such a hard time that I just gave up (2009). Year four I mostly pulled weeds and rebuilt the front sprinklers, created planters, added stepping stones, and then planted California wild flowers around the stepping stones. The only accessories to the back yard were some half-size farm fences at the front of the garden and a 9-foot decorative windmill (2010).

Year five (2011) I worked at my job a bit more and so got less done on the yard. I made progress in the mild winter and early summer. I got an early start on weeding after a week of rain ended Christmas Eve. I built additional planters at the hill along with bubbler sprinklers. I added sprinklers to the enlarged vegetable garden. I was making progress until I learned that my wood working class might not be offered the next year and I accelerated work on the only woodworking project that was mostly designed, a car barn for the future garden railroad. Once that was finished I got back to weeds. I dug up the ivy on the back half of the side hill and cleared more trees and shrubs. In July, just as I started a new job with lots of overtime, I installed sprinkler valves and a little more pipe. In early October it rained and the weeds started growing again. In preparation for winter, we had a chimney sweep out to clean the chimney. He informed us that the chimney had not been rebuilt to code after the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and that it was unsafe. I pulled a copy of the permit and later found the contract with Excalibur Construction, both said metal studs and clearly the studs used were wood. So we stopped using the chimney. (2011)

By January 23, 2012, I had pulled all of the new weeds but still had three patches of old weeds. I made some repairs to the patio roof, touched up some paint, and had repaired, or installed new, rain gutters. In spring I resumed work on the sprinklers, added the concrete structure that would someday house the pond filter equipment and added the utilities to the equipment. I finished the sprinklers and in early October began adding plants, now that I had sprinklers to water them the first few years until they were established. I ended 2012 with about half of the plants in the ground and had built a second wall on the hill. I began 2013 (year seven) by continuing with planting and then spent a little more time on the pond area, slowly getting the surrounding and support areas ready for the actual pond. By the end of spring I was mostly finished with landscaping outside the wall that surrounded the pond. I was still looking for a replacement pond consultant to finish what the first had begun. In April through June I made a flagstone walk from the future deck to the future bridge, and then built the bridge. It was now possible to reach the back area of the pond area without walking through mud or jumping over a five foot chasm. I met with a possible new pond designer in July 2013, but it left me more confused and discouraged. After several years unable to grow some vegetables in the official garden in the shade of the ash tree, I planted melons and squashes in the new ornamental tropical garden and they did much better. I started a job in September that kept me busy until spring 2014.

In spring (2014) I finished a job and had some time off. Having cleaned up the wood pile, I was able to extend the last sprinkler line, installed the leaf skimmer discharge pile for the pond, and started a planter. I did the usual patrol for weeds and general cleanup. With the large wood pile gone, I attacked smaller piles. When I returned to work in late June, I wrapped up for the year. In spring of 2015 I finished a job and had some time off. I bought some stone to finish the planter started the year before and got back to the pond. By the end of the year, the liner was roughly installed and I was piling rocks around the edge, the bottom two-thirds of grottos were ready for water, and most of the plumbing outside of the filter shelter was installed. There was a lot left to do, but it would hold the El Nino rain water expected in January. By the end of the year, the pond could hold water but was still far from finished.

I began 2016 still racing the El Nino to get the pond ready for filling with rainwater. We had lived in the house for nine years and I was still unpacking. The pond was about finished by spring, but still needed work. It had water, plants, and fish, but we were often visited by a racoon that kept tearing the plants apart. I got so busy with my job that it took the rest of the year to put a cover and gates on filter structure, but I still can't afford the pumps and filters. Also I framed the deck during the summer and in December, I started the railing and the deck surface. In the Winter, I started painting trim on the house, replacing the rain gutters, and installed four rain barrels. Another fall project was replacing the grass on the front slope with drought tolerant California native plants which was three-quarters finished at the end of the year. At the end of the year, the paining project had been stalled since early spring.


Before and After


January 8, 2007.

August 29, 2007.



January 5, 2007.

June 25, 2009



January 8, 2007.

June 25, 2009.

March 29, 2012.



August 29, 2007.

June 25, 2009.

March 29, 2012.



December 2, 2006.

June 25, 2009.

March 29, 2012.



May 5, 2007.

June 25, 2009.

March 29, 2012.



August 13, 2007

June 25, 2009.

March 29, 2012.



December 1 ,2006.

June 25, 2009.

March 29, 2012.



December 2, 2006.

June 25, 2009.

March 29, 2012.



December 2, 2006.

June 25, 2009.

March 29, 2012.



November 30, 2006.



November 30, 2006.



November 30, 2006.


Office
November 30, 2006.
Office

April 15, 2009.


Office
November 30, 2006.
Office
April 15, 2009.


Office
November 30, 2006.
Office
April 15, 2009.



November 30, 2006.

June 25, 2009.



November 30, 2006.

June 25, 2009.



November 30, 2006.



November 30, 2006.


December 2, 2006.

June 25, 2009.

March 28, 2012.

September 28, 2012.

May 17, 2013.

September 14, 2015.
Looking northwest from south corner.


December 2, 2006.

June 25, 2009.

March 28, 2012.

September 28, 2012.

May 17, 2013.

August 9, 2015.
Looking west.


December 2, 2006.

June 25, 2009.

March 28, 2012.

September 28, 2012.

May 17, 2013.

August 9, 2015.
Looking north from south corner.


December 2, 2006.

July 2, 2009.

March 28, 2012.

September 28, 2012.

May 17, 2013.

August 9, 2015.
Looking northwest from southeast.


December 2, 2006.

July 2, 2009.

March 28, 2012.

September 28, 2012.

May 17, 2013.

August 9, 2015.
Looking north from the south corner.


December 2, 2006.

June 25, 2009.

March 28, 2012.

September 28, 2012.

May 17, 2013.

August 9, 2015.
Looking northeast from southwest.


March 3, 2008.

June 25, 2009.

March 28, 2012.

September 28, 2012.

May 17, 2013.

September 14, 2015.
Looking northeast from southwest.


December 2, 2006.

June 25, 2009.

March 28, 2012.

September 28, 2012.

May 17, 2013.

August 9, 2015.
Looking south from patio.


December 2, 2006.

June 25, 2009.

March 28, 2012.

August 9, 2015.
Looking at the northeast side of house.



December 2, 2006.

June 25, 2009.

March 28, 2012.

August 9, 2015.
Looking at the northeast side of house.



December 2, 2006.

June 25, 2009.

March 28, 2012.

August 9, 2015.
Looking at the power panels.


February 12, 2009.

October 4, 2009.

March 28, 2012.

August 9, 2015.
Cactus Garden.

what's this?
A cactus on the wrong spot.

July 12, 2009 with backyard landscaping already well underway.

October 4, 2009.

March 28, 2012.

September 28, 2012.

March 10, 2013.

August 9, 2015.
Looking down from top of hill.



In December of 2006, the back of the side hill was covered with brush, dead and dying trees, weeds, ivy, and empty, broken planters.

August 9, 2015.

In December of 2006, the back of the side hill was covered with brush, dead and dying trees, weeds, ivy, and empty, broken planters.

August 9, 2015.




Water Shortage, 2009



LADWP won't let me water my grass.

LADWP won't let me water my grass.


LADWP won't let me water my grass.

My neighbors waters their grass.


My neighbors all have nice yards, but I can't do mine.

Drought tollerant, fire resistant, weed controlling ground cover and California natives. Needs water to be established and LADWP won't let me. LADWP told me to check with the Fire Department about brush removal.

Then one day, amid all this saving water and watching my landscape die, up the street a water main broke and all this water was wasted.
A river of escaped water rushes down the street.
The break was under the intersection, but most of the water escaped at the corner.





Water Shortage, 2015

I spent three hours one day on the phone with DWP trying to understand the water restrictions and how they applied to my water conserving irrigation system. No one at DWP understood the rules, where they came from, or what water conserving irrigation was. One of the DWP employees accused me of wanting an exemption so that I could have a "lush landscape" Below are some photos of my "lush landscape."
After three years, these 50 shrubs have yet to develop roots due to insufficient water.

After three years, these 50 shrubs have yet to develop roots due to insufficient water.
Note my neighbor's Bougainvillea behind the fence.

Note my Bougainvillea that the DWP refers to as "Lush".

The bare hill DWP calls "Lush".

This lush avocado tree is the third that I've bought for this location.

This newly planted avocado replaced the one that died.

My lush field of California wild flowers.

Two lush blueberry plants, one is a replacement for one that died.

Yes LA DWP, I have a lush landscape.

I received an insulting letter from LADWP and sent a reply. LADWP never responded. A few months later, I received an email from DWP telling me that I'm wasting water and threatening to publicly releasing my name. Well, I'm releasing it myself now. I again sent the letter that I sent months earlier. Everything except the first mailed letter is here.


General Shots of the House and Yard

Dusky Rose colored California Poppy Dusky Rose colored California Poppy
Dusky Rose colored California Poppy by the cactus garden.


They just finished blooming, but were pretty a few weeks earlier.
Roses
Roses, three were moved from the side hill, three were new.

I added three sets of steps to the three planters on the hill side.

I added rocks and cactus and rearranged the existing cactus.
Cactus flower.

This is not a cactus flower, the top of this cactus is bright red.
I filled this 10-yard dumpster with rocks and branches.

The pile of dirt that took two years to move.

June 25, 2009.
The swing set going away. It has stood here for 42 years, but hasn't been used in the last 20.
The swing set going away.

October , 2012.

I try to add another tombstone every Halloween.

It gets windy here.

The chimney.

The tropical garden.

Hibiscus.

Tropicana flower.

Red flower.

Calla Lilly.

Purple plant and waterfall.


This is suppose to be a bird feeder.
I put up a hummingbird feeded and sometimes saw as many of eight hummingbirds around the feeder at the same time. Photos by Joy Bentley.
I counted ten house finches at the feeder one day.

A minute before I took this shot of a hawk, there were two hawks on the branch. I always keep a close eye on our small cat when the hawks are out.

I noticed this opossum in my yard one night. Opossums are so timmid, it stayed on the fence for the several minutes it took me to get my camera and come back.
After cleaning and 24 hours later
People are divided over Jacaranda trees. Most people who live with them hate them, most people who don't live with them love them. I live with them. The left image above is after an hour and a half sweeping. The right image above is 24 hours later - note the purple carpet.
Below left is after one week and below right is after two weeks. About this time, most of the blossoms had fallen and it was easier to keep the driveway clean. After one and two weeks

Ant hill.

Racoon tracks.

Front.

Back of house.

Patio.
Sculpture Garden.

Sunset, 8-5-15.
Sunrise
Sunrise, 12-9-15


Erosion from a stone.

Raccoon Tracks.



Looking southeast, Universal Studios is just left of center.



The New Windows

In March 2009, I had the front windows replaced with more energy efficient windows. I am hoping to do extensive work to the back in the future, so I held off on the back.

Work room.

Office.
Living Room.

Upstairs window.

Rain

Rain March 20, 2011

Rain may not be unusual in much of the country, but in Los Angeles, we get about 10 to 20 inches a year. On March 20, 2011, we received about 6 inches of rain, most of it in only a few hours. I discovered several problems that would require attention when things dried up, such as damaged, clogged, or missing rain gutters and a patio cover without a water tight connection to the house.

As I looked out across my flooded back yard in the fading light, I was glad that I had spent so much time in recent years building up the dirt berm around the edge of the yard, otherwise all this water would have run down my neighbors' hills and eroded deep gullies.
Rain in garden.
Rain in garden.
Rain in garden.

Rain in garden.
So much rain came down so fast, the future pond site became a temporary pond.
The rain fell so hard, the rain gutters overflowed.

The car tire is a few inches off the curb, yet, so much water flowed down the hill, it still backed up behind the tires.

We heard a car alarm and looked out to see the neighbor's car was hit by their trash can washing down the hill.

Rain March 1, 2015

It rains so infrequently these days, I always get excited.

Rain May 14, 2015

The Patio Repair

When I bought the house, dry rot was found in the patio cover. It wasn't until a few years later that I noticed rain water pouring in through the repair. It seems the termite company (who shall remain nameless [WEC]) sawed through the roofing material to remove the boards in three places, then left the two foot long by 1/8 inch wide holes for the water. Finally I had time to make a proper repair.
These are the rotted and warped boards after I removed the roofing material.
These are the rotted and warped boards after I removed the roofing material.

Solar Panels

On June 1, 2015, my new solar panels were installed. They were activated July 22, 2015.


6:38 AM.

9:32 AM.

10:22 AM.

11:52 AM

12:59 PM

1:53 PM

Inverter.

Meter to measure power generated.

Setting up.

Final installation with new meters.


September 19, 2015.











Landscpaing

2007

The first year was spent unpacking.

2008

In spring of the second year I hired a gardener to remove two large trees, several stumps, and finish cleaning up the front hill that the original gardener, the one my mother had hired, wasn't getting done very quickly. About a week before the gardener started, I began removing a small retaining wall that my Father and I built over 35 years earlier. I wanted the slope to run smoothly to the sidewalk. There are only two small areas of grass on my property, this slope is one of them and is similar to the neighbor on either side. I had brought a seedling of a Mexican Fan Palm from the previous house and planted it on the slope.

I rebuilt the front sprinklers but a year later, redesigned and rebuilt then again. I added edging stones to create a planter area at the end of the front hill near the driveway and here I planted all the bulbs that I dug up from the hill.

2009

Most of the third year was spent working on the front half of the side hill. I cleared unwanted plants. I created a planter area against the front of the house and then moved the roses from the top of the side retaining wall to just west of the front door in the new planter area. The planter also included existing Bird of Paradise plants and other plants, some of which were later removed. The gardeners had cleared several stumps the year before and I built new planters in the same spots. I also added steps to the planters and a row of stepping stones along the top of the retaining wall. I added three sprinkler lines, one for sprinklers to the front half of the hill, one to the back half, and a drip line to the trees. I started adding planters and steps to the back half of the side hill. In the fall I added drought tolerant plants and two fig trees and an apple tree to the front half of the side hill in those three new planters.

My Father had made a cactus garden at the forward end of the side hill but it had suffered over the years. I added some of the larger flagstone that I brought with me from the former house. There were only a few cactus and a few clumps of succulents left. I rearranged and spread out the succulents to the new stone. Then I added new cactus and a few succulents.

The original gardener had started clearing the back yard but was making slow progress. After my wife dismissed him, I finished the job. I began a wall around the future water garden and completed about three quarters of it by the end of the year. I planted a nectarine tree and an avocado on the back side slope, but the avocado didn't make it.

In the spring of 2009, I began site preparation for the studio. I wasn't ready to start and was still working on the drawings to show Building and Safety, so I continued on the general site. Building and Safety twice rejected my drawings, mostly because they won't let me build it as a miniature. I paid a structural engineer to sign off on the parts that were not Type 5, but we had a falling out and I gave up on the project. So this is the end of the studio story.

I worked all year pulling weeds and clearing unwanted plants and general clean up. In the fall I was busy with work and only managed to remove most of the dandelions before they could reseed.

I needed to build up the ground at the studio area to allow for a finish floor 6 inches above the surrounding grade.

I began by building the surrounding garden wall. I could then use the wall for reference for locating the foundation of the studio.

The wall is 3/4 finished, leaving a section open for access. The strip between the wall and fence is almost cleared and contoured and I have cleared more weeds within the wall. October 10, 2009.

2010

I rebuilt the new sprinklers in the front yard. Originally I had repaired what was already there, this time I redesigned the system. Because we had entered a period of more or less permanent drought, I set new sprinklers at the top of the hill pointing out over the hill and grass, but not back to the flat area. I also installed bubblers along the west half of the front of the house and the west side of the house and a bit of the west end of the front yard. The space between would get no sprinklers. I ran a row of stepping stones through this unwatered area to the side and along the west side I set the 24 inch stepping stones that I had brought from the former house. This entire unwatered area then was planted with California wildflower seeds that continued an annual display every spring with little water or maintenance. I added a giant Bird of Paradise and two smaller Bird of Paradise plants to the west end of the front level section as a screen. The year before I had pulled most of the dandelion weeds, this year I concentrated on the thistles.

The only work done on the backyard were to pull weeds, maintain the vegetable garden, make and install some half-size farm fences at the front of the garden, and install a 9-foot decorative windmill.

2011


With most of the weeds pulled, in early January 2011 I began installing sprinkler pipes from a plan for over 1000 feet of pipe. I first added sprinklers to the vegetable garden and the base of the hill, 5 zones.
In February I started sprinklers in the vegetable garden. I finished rebuilding the eight planters on the back half of the side hill. I completely rebuilt the steps that my father had made forty years earlier but had deteriorated, following the original route. Halfway up the hill, I built a wall that would be partly a retaining wall, but mostly a flat walk connecting the steps to two planters. Then I added bubblers and spray sprinklers to that back of the side hill. These were the ends of the sprinkler lines and I worked toward the valve location as far as the edge of the vegetable garden, so they couldn't be used yet. I removed a dead orange tree and planted a new one. I built and installed fences around the vegetable garden, then planted vegetables. I pulled the next crop of weeds and since I had gotten the dandelions two years earlier and the thistles the year before, I had mostly the small low weeds, getting most of them pulled. In the front there is a bush-type palm tree with multiple trunks. I started trimming the lower palm frawns, needing to lay on my stomach to do so. In mid-February, I went back to work and for the next several months, I tried to keep up with the new weeds. Since my wood working class was not to be offered after this semester, I accelerated my work on the wooden parts of my landscaping. In March 2011, I started the foundation of the model railroad car barn, finishing it about June. I got about half the sprinkler system installed by mid-summer, but since it ties into the water supply for the water garden, that project needed to move forward. I worked a lot in 2011 and so had less time for the landscape.


The floor of the car barn.

The finished building.
In summer of 2011, I cleared more weeds and resumed working on the sprinkler pipes, finishing another 60 feet of trench and started connecting valves to the pipes. Then I wrapped for a while, resuming the following April.

2012

By the end of January I had cleared most of the new weeds, having only a few small patches of old weeds left. In spring, I continued with the sprinklers which had stopped at the edge of the garden the year before. I extended the pipes back to the valves and then out to the tropical garden and the water garden. I need to dig a trench from the house to the location of the pond equipment so all the pipes that crossed or ran parallel to this trench went on hold until the trench was finished. I finished the drawings for a concrete pad and wall to shelter the pond filter equipment. The structureal engineer signed off on the structure, I pulled the permit, dug a large hole for the footing, and hired Frank Pedilla, a concrete contractor, to build it. I dug the two foot deep, sixty foot long trench for the utilities and hired Advanced Electric to install the electrical.
"Roots and rocks" is what I mutter to myself as I dig in my yard. This pile of roots was from a long dead tree in a two foot long section of trench for sprinkler pipes. The project stalled for hours as I removed these.
The shelter for the filter is ready for pouring with forms and rebar at left and almost finished at right.
Once Building and Safety signed off on this, I was able to fill the trench and finish the sprinklers and one of the two remaining gaps in the train/turtle wall. Before installing the bubbler sprinklers along the back and side fence, I finished several other projects. I added a Velencia orage to the base of the hill. Two patios were finished incluidng a smaller one in the middle of the pond area and I set a row of stepping stones between the new and old patios. My pond consultant quit because the project wasn't progressing quickly enough so I was on my own. I installed the pipe that will carry filtered water from the filter to the medium waterfall, filled the trench, built a retianing wall beside the pipe, and started the medium waterfall. I also built four bridge piers and a short flagstone walk between one pier and the small retaining wall. I installed edging in the tropical area to deliniate the path but it was a few months before that path was finishd. I finished the bubbler sprinklers along the fence by the end of September. Throughout all this, I kept escavating the pond as a source for fill dirt until the pond started taking shape and I ran out of dirt and the contouring around the pond was taking shape.

Aspects of the project are in progress everywhere. The black rectangle is weed block at the patio site. July 8, 2012.

The patios are finished. The tropical garden is begun. Some of the back area of the pond is begun. September 3, 2012.
By the end September I was ready to start planting. In early November, I scattered poppy seeds on the parkway and the back side hill. I added more California native plants to the back side slope and three citrus trees to the base of the slope. Now that I had sprinklers along the back and side fence, I could plant my 50 Monterey Bay Brush Cerry plants there, they were delivered in early October. The next day, five cubic yarrds of dirt were delivered - the native dirt was poor quality and had run out. It took the next three months to plant the shrubs and disperse the dirt. In December I add a second retaining/wall to the side slope, halfway down from the the first. I also finished the path in the tropical garden.


In late September, I sold some investments and ordered 50 Monterey Bay Brush Cherries and five cubic yards of dirt. I had already dug a dozen holes and brought several wheelbarrows of dirt to the back yard by the time the shrubs arrived. I had specifically waited until cooler weather in October to start planting, then my 50 shrubs arrived in a late season, unexpected heat wave. Then we had another heat wave when about 2/3 of the shrubs were planted. I started a new job and finding time to plant the remaining 16 shrubs took a while. The annual winds didn't help. The unplanted shrubs were knocked over and the top of one of the taller new shrubs was snapped off.

Five yards of dirt. I needed dirt to fill holes, trenches, and build up areas. Not only was the pond nearing final size and no longer a source for the dirt, but the existing dirt was very poor quality, so I bought some.


The dirt was delivered the day before the shrubs.
I had long planned to begin planting October 1, once summer was over. These 50 shrubs were delivered October 2, in the middle of a heat wave. We had a second heat wave before they were all planted. I spent the next six months planting and not much else. This was the third year without a winter and I held off for February waiting for winter to end - winter never started. In mid-March, I gave up on winter and resumed planting.

2013

I started the vegetable garden in early January, the first season that I had working sprinklers. January I started planing in the tropical garden, but help off in February waiting for the winger to end. There was no winter and I resumed planing in March. I also picked up all of the stepping stones around the patio and garden and smoothed the path, added weed block, relaid the stepping stones, added edging, and added lava rock. The path was now complete except the section under the wood pile which I soon started to discard since the chimney was unsafe and we had plenty of fire wood. I planted 12 bare root grape plants in January and for potted grapes in March. Half of the bare root grapes budded quickly, the rest took months and by the end of May, one still hadn't. I planted a half dozen fruit trees including two avocados. I planted wild flowers and herbs in pots on the patio and set up a drip irrigation system in the garden and on the patio. All the planting was finished by the end of March, on schedule.



March 10, 2013.

June 1, 2013.
In May I resumed on the medium waterfall and had it as finished as possible until the pond liner is installed. With some of the wood pile removed, I was finally able to finish the back half of the stepping stones at the base of the slope. The concrete wall for the filter equipment was painted leaf green. I attached one more section of the train/turtle wall, reducing the construction access gap to three feet. Memorial Day I started the bridge. It took a few weeks to build the bridge which made reaching the back of the pond area easier. I finished the summer working on minor maintenance. I got busy with work starting in early September and the only other thing I did was about Thanksgiving when I built a small underground wall between the future pond and future leaf skimmer hole.


2014

Early January 2014, I started working to eliminate the pile of tree trunks and limbs that I no longer planned to use for carving or firewood. In late March, I finished. I was finally able to extend a sprinkler line by one sprinkler to finally finish the sprinklers in May. At the same time I also installed the discharge pipe for the future leaf skimmer. With this complete, I could start developing the berm above. I also added a few more California native plants to the hill. I was advised to make concrete pads under the pond liner to support heavy constructions above the liner. I started two of these pads in May along with the planter from which one of the waterfalls emanates. I also started a turtle cave where the turtles can hide from the racoons and coyotes at night if they are smart enough. In late June I returned to work and accomplished little the rest of the year.


June 29, 2014.

2015

In April I finished a job and cleaned and did the usual maintenance. Since 1971, a large piece of concrete had rested at the bottom of the hill as a type of bench. Over the years it had settled unevenly. I first tried to move it but once better located, I decided it was too unstable and cut it up and threw it away.


Just starting.

After two cuts.

Almost finished cutting.

Finished cutting.

All gone.

With that out of the way, I bought a large perfect stone for the turtle cave and three tons of green quarts for the planter, both projects started last year. I created a level strip of dirt at the desired height all the way around the pond and then dug down 12 inches. Parts of the pond were already excavated almost to the bottom, other parts were still completely unstarted. By the end of July I was almost finished and waiting for someone to help with the liner.

The next five months I put all available time into the pond. There were many setbacks and problems. I talked to several pond experts and when I finally found one willing to do the job, he messed up. It took a second pond expert to finish and repair what the first did. By the end of December, it was starting to take shape and held water, although far from finished. More at ... I was also making general house repairs.


2016

New Years Day I was continuing the plumbing from the filter structure to the various pond intakes and discharges. Mid-January to Mid-March saw great progress to the pond as I covered the planter with green quartz and finished the edge of the pond. I bought four rain barrels in late January and removed most of the rain gutters on the house, refinished the fascia behind, installed new rain gutters, and installed the rain barrels to capture what little rain fell that would otherwise end up in the street.


Four rain barrels ready to install.
In mid-October, I was approved for a turf replacement rebate and had four months to transform the front slope from Creeping Red Fescue to low water requiring native California plants. After a few weeks, I decided to do it my way and let the rebate go for three primary reasons. Even drought tolerant California natives need extra water the first two or three years and the rebate required that I remove the sprinklers. It would be difficult to water 100 plants on a slope by hand. Also the rebate required I install some type of rain water trap, such as a pond - on a hill side? I was also required to installed weed barrier and mulch, both of which would have prevented me from planting California native wild flowers between the larger plants. So I decided the small amount of rebate was outweighed by the disadvantages. I did plant natives that, once mature, will require much less water and the sprinklers that will stay in place will be used only occasionally. I also added a few more native plants around the pond. Once mature, the pond surrounded by native plants will use less water than an equal area of grass.

2017


Wild Flowers

2011

I photographed these wild flowers in the front yard.
I allowed several lupin to grow in the back yard as I pulled every other weed. I saved as many of the seeds as I could to plant in the front yard next year.
April 16, 2011 and April 17, 2011.

April 24, 2011
May 7, 2011
May 28, 2011


March-April, 2012



March 2013

I planted a large section of the hill with Lupin.

The lupin did well. March 2013.

Cactus flower, May 2013.

Wild Flowers. May 9, 2013.

March 2014


Lupin. March 9, 2014.

Poppies. May 30, 2014.

2015


Dragon_Fruit.

Dragon_Fruit.




Rebuilding the Original Waterfall and Pond

I helped my Father build a small pond and waterfall outside the livingroom in the early 1970s. My Father used a metal standup barbeque for the top pond supported by wood. The metal barbeque was badly rusted and I had been patching holes for several years and most of the wood had rotted out and several pieces had fallen out. The original top basin was formed by the barbeque with rock extending about all the way around except a front spillway. The seam between the barbeque and rock was leaking which was causing a lot of water loss and contributed to the wood rotting. I had kept the pond and waterfall going with these problems for several years while finished the new water garden in the back yard which was primarily finished in early 2016. I transferred the remaining water, fish, and plants from the old to new and began planning the rebuild or demolition of the old. In late January 2017, I began demolition of the top of the waterfall.

First I removed as many rocks as needed to free the barbeque. It was mostly loose but stuck in one side. I finally remembered there was a handle on the barbeque that was embedding in the rock so had to remove a large section on that side. I few rocks came loose that I had hoped to leave in place and one rock broke in half. Finally everything that needed removal was removed and I cleaned and wire brushed the interior.
Above and below photos are of the removal of the barbeque. The rock is still in place, but one has broken.

Demolition is finished.
There were three pads in the concrete where the original wood framing had anchored and I installed pieces of concrete block with concrete. One corner had nothing below to anchor to so it took a little more effort. Because of the irregular shape of what was left, I cut a two foot square stepping stone to fit this irregular shape. This was then set in place and the edges filled in. ...
Support Support
Adding the supports for the block to be the pool bottom.

Block
Adding the block to be the pool bottom.

Rebuilding the top.

Installing a rubber liner in the top basin.

Adding some temporary rainwater to the top basin. I finished the pond later today.
Temporarily filling the pond with rain water. After a week, this water was pumped out to use on plants and fresh rainwater replaced it.

Temporarily filling the pond with rain water.

The pond is full of rainwater and it's raining again. It was a wet year, the pond was filled with rain water several times.


The Vegetable Garden

New web page for the Vegetable Garden.


Water Garden and Garden Model Railroad

New web page for the Water Garden.

New web page for the Garden Model Railroad.


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This page last updated: Tuesday, 14-Mar-2017 22:49:02 PDT
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I hope that you find this web site helpful. It started as alight-hearted alternative to my portfolio site, and then grew. This web site is for your benefit and enjoyment and I make no profit on it. For ten years it has been supported primarily from my regular paycheck as a Set Designer and there haven't been many the last few years. I can no longer run it without help. Alternative funding is needed. Only recently I tried advertising as a way to balance the budget, but it still doesn't cover the costs. A non-tax deductable donation helps cover the cost of operating this web site and may be made to Kesign Design Consulting through PayPal.

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