new backyard need help plz. (a lot of photos enclosed)

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by diyrick, Jun 18, 2006.

  1. diyrick

    diyrick LawnSite Member
    Posts: 18

    This is my first landscaping project and I really appreciate any advice or instructions on what should be done as my next step? I’d moved into my new house last year with an unfinished backyard ( as shown in photos ).

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    The entire backyard looked horrible, it was significantly uneven, and was covered with weeds/sparse grass.

    The first steps were:

    1.Used 5 gallons of Round Up weed killer and sprayed the whole entire yard. Waited one week later until weed were completely dead.
    2.Borrowed my friend’s roll tiller machine to loosen up about 8 to 10 inches of soil, and dumped it into the slopes of the hill on the side of the yard to bring up some height to the slope.(a lot of work) Now the ground is flatted and even.

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    3.Using a garden rake, I even the ground surface as shown from photos below.

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    Now, my questions is:

    1.As you can see in the photos, what should I do next?
    2.The photo below (before level the ground), I believe is the drainage swales created by the homebuilder. I had leveled that area now as you can see from the next photo . Do I need to install drainage pipes in that area?

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    3.I was testing the drainage in that area by digging a hole roughly 20 inch deep and filling the hole with water. Let the water drain. If by 24 hrs later, all the water were gone, would I still need to install drainage pipes? (It seemed like the water level was down one inch by every 1 hr.)

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    I really need advice or instructions on what should be done as my next step? Thanks for your time in reading. Feel free to drop me your inputs,
    ideas, and suggestions. I look forward to hearing from you!

    Rick
     
  2. tylermckee

    tylermckee LawnSite Member
    from wa
    Posts: 248

    Make sure you have good drainage away from your house which it looks like you do. where that swale used to run, you probably want to create another shallow swale, maybe use it in your landscape as a dry creek bed or something to hide it. That swale looks like it was directing all the run off from your neighbor above you, and seeing as how you live in portlant, that could be a LOT of water at times, you really dont want to end up with a swamp of a yard. Where you made your cut along the fence line, you will probably want to put in a small retaining wall, doent look like there is much holding those fence posts, as i know now days most builders hardly bury their posts.
    What are you wanting to do with the back yard? just plant some seed/lay some sod? if so, it looks like your soil has a lot of clay in it judging by the last couple pics of your test hole. If thats the case it would be ideal to bring in 4-6" of some good top soil, but that could be a lot of work cause it doesnt look like you can get any kind of truck or equipment back there.
     
  3. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,112

    It looks to me like you actually graded the soil towards the home and filled in the drainage area.So YES you should put a french drain in the lowest part of that area.Instead of leaving that sharp cut along the fence you need to slope that down gradually.
    You have left yourself with too sharp of a cut there. Or a short retaining wall as mentioned.
    You will also need a french drain all along the bottom of that bank off the side of the deck, making sure the drain has a pitch to drain properly.
    I think a nice paver or flagstone patio on a gravel and sand base would be great along the back of the house off the wood deck and going to the end of the house then, extending out in a freeform semi circular patio past the wood deck a few feet.
    This would triple your entertaining/outdoor living area, increase your property value, use up dead space and be functional and beautiful.
    That slope down from the side of the house looks pretty steep for grass, I suggest a good ground cover ,but there are lots of ways you can go with that. Tree's would help save energy by shading the house in summer and ya just need to have trees anyway.
    I can do some suggestions right on your pic if I have time tomorrow to show you tree placements ect. there are good places for planting beds along the edge of the suggested patio aand other areas.
    I don't know if you like to maintain flower beds or the amount of time you have to care for your garden so can't make a suggestion on how much plant material to use. You should rake out all those clods and debri in that pile of soil on the hill and rake it out all along there. Will get back to you later.
     
  4. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,112

    Well I did a few quick ideas for you with the info I had I would also suggest a Automatic Irrigation system if your going to install sod in the top level areas. Thease are just the basics but if you do them it should keep you busy awhile back there.
    Oh and for the patio, you will need to excavate out to make room to get your base in. Hope this helps you a little.
    Sorry my writeing got messed up when I resized

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  5. dcondon

    dcondon LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,246

    Nice work you came up with sheshovel!!!!:cool2: :cool2:
     
  6. diyrick

    diyrick LawnSite Member
    Posts: 18

    It is a great, resourceful site. Thanks for all your suggestions. Specially, the nice work that sheshovel came up.
    Below, you will see the specification to what I’m planning to do (some of them are based on Sheshovel’s suggestions)

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    I think the 4 inches deck along the walkway is the most economical approach (I could be wrong) for that area. Perhaps, I might build an awning or patio roofing over the deck if necessary.

    Thanks again and hope to hear more suggestion from all of you.
     
  7. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,112

    OK WAIT! Question #1- Why in the world would you use up good space in your backyard with ugly concrete walkways,splitting up the area with them like that? Not visually pleasing at all and a waste of good living space .
    #2-What is your logic behind putting a wood deck where it won't be used? What are you going to do, invite your extra guests to sit on the side there separate from the guests or family that are on the back deck?
    The whole idea with building a deck is to increase the family living space by using it as an extension of the home, in harmony and with convenience of use. Not to cover over a drainage area so the water will run under it and then you don't have to dig a ditch and install a simple drain. I have no idea why you would even consider doing that.
    If you ask me..and I do do this for a living and have for a long time..your back deck is way too small for the house. A lower level patio area that leads right off the deck stairs is called for here.
    If your gonna do it..do it where you will use it.
    Your cement walkways are a waste of what good level area you have and are ugly and unnecessarily expensive.Breaking up the visual flow and increasing your work when mowing and edging.
    Your better off with pathways of colored gravel and stepping stones.
    AND where are your tree's? Trees increase the value of your property,save on energy bills by creating shade, are beautiful to look at..tree's make a landscape thats all there is to it.
    Sorry if I sound harsh,I don't mean to be so critical..it is after all your backyard landscape. But I think you need to rethink your whole plan and be a bit more creative and economical with your space.
     
  8. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,112

    Thanks dcondon but those were very basic simple ideas. You want real nice design work from me ya gotta pay me for it!@
     
  9. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,112

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  10. diyrick

    diyrick LawnSite Member
    Posts: 18


    Your suggestions sounds very practical and I can always come up with plan B or C..... I am totally new to landscaping so I really appreciate your ideas, they're efficacious for me.

    After reviewing all the advices and suggestions, I’ve decided to not split the walk path, instead go with the idea of the stepping stones to the back door (plz see the new plan B photos) and yes, there will be trees planted along the fence (I love tree too). There’s much work that needs to be done and I’m still in the process of taking it one step at a time.

    The reason for the side deck is because I planned on using that space for storage (like a tools, skate ramp ,toys...... ). Also, I think the side yard area is big enough to be used as my workstation as well. It will still be easily accessible through that gate. So, in prevention of moss/slick ground I’ve considered building a roof to keep the side yard area dry thus no moss build up. If wood deck isn’t advisable for the ground covering, would cementing that whole side space be a better alternative? Would it also be less expensive?

    I definitely need to install some sort of drainage solution along the side yard area, I’m still trying to figure out if I should do French drain or regular drainage pipe? I just learned that a French drain is a drain with no pipe. So, Please continue give me any suggestion and I really appreciate if you or anyone can tell me more about how to install drain system along the fence? should I install the drain system behind or in front of the retaining wall. Thanks again for any help.

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