They Say That Granite Rings - Xeriscaping in the Postnuclear Free-World

Discussion in 'General Off Topic Forums' started by mfrench, Oct 9, 2014.

  1. mfrench

    mfrench Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,406
    Location:
    On the West Side of Rainbow
    Hey,…. We're running out of water here in SoCal. That is, until it rains.

    Sarge and I bought a house that on a nice small nice piece of land (1 acre).
    Problem: The house is at the bottom of a hill that is most of an 11 acre property. There have been runoff issues for 40 years, which were inadequately addressed with such things as cinder block wall caps stacked on top of each other, with slotted metal shelf brackets as support posts.

    So, over the pst two years, I've been doing a ton of trenching, lifting, stacking, and rock gathering / stonework.
    I'm a rock gardner, and its what I do.

    So, this is the tour of my project.
    I'll start at the top, which is the current endeavor, and the uncompleted portion (it's really far advanced but still needs work).
    In the following posts, I'll be going downstream, and documenting the lower dry creek channeling, and concrete work that I've been doing. The downstream stuff is finished, or much more near completion.
    Right now, I'm gathering granite rocks from a new community development, where I've been given permission to gather as many rocks as I want, for as long as i want, until the job site closes in on the rock pile and hauls it off, or fills in over it. There is said o be a big day on or around October 20th, when the ground work crew is pulling off, and handing it over to the home building crews. I'm stockpiling rocks like a hoarder right now.

    At any rate,…

    The following is a transcription, in paraphrase, of a series of letters that I've been drafting and sending to the president of the ground work development firm, who granted me access to the rocks.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

    Hi Rxxx,

    This is my runoff project, in the following links.
    I'll start off with the hillside runoff coming down a road that the landowner above us had graded along the bottom of her hillside. The road acts as a collector for the runoff, rather than letting it dissipate naturally down the slope.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    This is showing the runoff as it nears my property edge. You can see how easily it is diverted by debris, where the flow splits:
    [​IMG]

    And the flow as it enters the rear of my property, prior to my recent stone work. Note the red concrete tree ring to see a difference in later images:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    It eventually runs down the side of my property down an access road to the rear:
    [​IMG]
    This is where it exits my property and enters my next door neighbors:
    [​IMG]

    Now to the runoff/erosion control mitigation project

    My new headwall collector berm:
    [​IMG]
    In this image, ^^, you can see the faint outline of my house and swimming pool. The pool is the bluish tone, and the reddish tone above that is my roofline. I'm the first person since '78 to address this runoff and siltation issue. You can see that it takes dead aim at the house.
    The collector berm was built because of how easily the flow splits from surface debris. It is literally a collector berm, and will also be used as a de-siltation basin.
    The left headwall berm is constructed of yards of soil, faced with 16" cinder block wall caps that are footed by a 4" deep x 6" wide concrete footer. The wall caps erosion face is held back and in place by chain link fence material that is draped over the face, and down the back of the berm, where it is held in place by steel stakes with rebar "T's" that spread the hold down force. Granite rocks from the Vista job site hold the chain link in place and act as a dissipator face on the berm.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    The right headwall berm is constructed of sacks of concrete with concrete lawn edging as a face. The concrete bags and edger face are held together with hardware chicken wire cloth in a DIY gabion cage. The berm is backed by more soil. You can also see the early formations of my dry creek drainage in the background.
    [​IMG]

    I created a silt fence/wall at the funnel mouth of my collector headwall berm. This timber wall is intended to slow water, to cause the silt to fall out, prior to entering into my dry creek drainage channel.
    This is the low point where the flow enters just above the orange tree with the red tree ring.
    upstream side of silt fence:
    [​IMG]
    downstream side:
    [​IMG]

    Many thanks for getting through this far. These images were sent to suggest what I'm facing. I'll take some updated pictures of my stonework, and send them in a followup email.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
    rick morty likes this.

     

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  2. mfrench

    mfrench Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,406
    Location:
    On the West Side of Rainbow
    Hi R.,

    OK,… this is part two, the part where I actually start to show you my stonework, and what the rock pile rocks look like when they're organized.

    At the rear of the silt fence headwall, the dry creek channel begins as a diffuser:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The dry creek channels are created with parallel walls that create planters that are geotex'd and backfilled with soil. Each bank of the creek channel has two parallel planter walls that create the channel.
    before geotex and backfill:
    [​IMG]

    Creek planter retaining wall and orange tree ring:
    [​IMG]
    Same planter, from a bit further back. The dry creek is to the left of the orange tree planter:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    This is a channel shoulder berm that I made to allow me to cross the creek channel with a wheelbarrow, to access the upper drainage area and headwall berm, up the pathway formed by the channeling straight in front of the berm in this image. It is made of pieces of stone that are 8" thick, creating a thick shoulder through this section of the channel:
    [​IMG]

    Another lower creek channeling planter and tree ring. To the right of the tree ring is the shoulder berm from the previous image:
    [​IMG]

    This is the termination of this portion of the dry creek, the upper drainage.* It terminates behind a concrete cottage stone retaining wall that I built just prior to my meeting you.
    I built the concrete wall as a final berm in case my other multiple efforts fail.* I coiled the concrete wall back onto itself so that the creek flow impacts the face of the wall, rather than the rear of the wall, to prevent backfill blowout.
    The upper dry creek and retaining wall interface:
    [​IMG]

    Upper drainage slope overview:
    [​IMG]

    In all, I've built 180' of concrete "cottage stone" retaining walls here over the course of two spring/summer periods. I've also extensively trenched and foundation drained the rear of the house. In all, probably over 400' of deep hand dug drainage trenching.
    Now with the added rock walls, I've got untold amounts of wall building.

    OK,.... this is the end of the second send.* This send covers my upper drainage.* I've got a huge amount of lower drainage to go; hold on.
    If this is too much info - please let me know.* I've enjoyed documenting it. I hope you enjoy the tour.

    all best!

    Mike
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
  3. mfrench

    mfrench Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,406
    Location:
    On the West Side of Rainbow
    For now, it's intermission time. I'm running to the rock pile again to get more rocks.
    I need to upload more pictures of the lower drainages, and I'll continue with the tour and insanity later.
    The rocks:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I've heard the granite ring numerous times.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
  4. EchoWars

    EchoWars Hiding in Honduras Sponsor

    Messages:
    28,393
    Location:
    Kansas City
    Nice work! Get some pics during the next good rain and let's see how it all works.
     
  5. mfrench

    mfrench Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,406
    Location:
    On the West Side of Rainbow
    The left cairn is todays stack. The right cairn is yesterdays stack. They are at the rock pile where I get my rocks.
    They are in homage to the Valley of the Rocks Bikini Girls. You should see them hop around those rocks in their heels! They bring the best ones out to the edge for me.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
  6. mfrench

    mfrench Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,406
    Location:
    On the West Side of Rainbow
    Thanks. I'm going to be out there in my boots and rain slicker watching every minute of it. I already got to see some of my lower drainage creeks move water during a monsoon rain that we had this summer. So I'm really looking forward to seeing it work.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2014

     

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  7. turnitup

    turnitup Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    669
    Location:
    California Bay Area
    Very old world European (Mediterranean) looking. Reminds me of Spain, Portugal or Israel. Very nice job. Future generations will be enjoying your work for hundreds of years from now. Wish I still had the energy (physic) to be able to do what you are doing. This will just get better and better looking over the years as everything settles and ages. Great improvement to the land!
     
  8. 240sx4u

    240sx4u Lunatic Member

    Messages:
    10,817
    Location:
    Madison, WI
    Super cool, nice job and very good looking rig. I really want to see a video of it in action.
     
  9. skippy_ps

    skippy_ps AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,153
    Location:
    Palm Springs, CA
    Wow, really nice work and a lot of it too.

    Murray
     
  10. mfrench

    mfrench Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,406
    Location:
    On the West Side of Rainbow
    top pairs - two weeks old
    bottom pair, new, on day of taping up, two days ago.
    I always prep two new pair at once, and use them each as the other pair dries out (from sweat)
    [​IMG]
    tomorrow, I re-tape the fingers on the new pair, as they're already wearing through.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
  11. rshep

    rshep Working my way to 1000 posts Subscriber

    Messages:
    729
    Location:
    Sunny Phoenix, AZ
    Wow, that's some serious water re-diversion work. My first house was in the Hayward Ca foothills, we had some water drainage issues there. My house had french drains around it and it wasn't too bad. 4 houses downhill we called the swamp house. There was so much water constantly draining off it the sidewalk was covered with slick moss - slipped on it once walking the dog. :yuck:
     

     

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  12. bobabode

    bobabode AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    10,087
    Location:
    SoCal
    Rockin' and rollin' down San Diego way. :thmbsp:
     
  13. mfrench

    mfrench Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,406
    Location:
    On the West Side of Rainbow
    Are you guys ready to cringe? I mean like grab your junk, and feel the pain cringing?

    OK,…
    Imagine catching your nut sack on the corner of this:
    [​IMG]

    I did, and there was blood! There was also a very psychedelic colored basketball size bruise on my abdomen, below the belly button. I also got to land flat on my back all in the same fall. I picked pubic hairs, skin and blood off of it afterward. I then went and got more rocks, after pouring about a half bottle of alcohol on my boys. That stung.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
  14. RuffzGuts

    RuffzGuts Super Member

    Messages:
    1,011
    Location:
    Melbourne Australia
    Your Nuts man! I mean really, your Nuts, look after them! and your back. That looks like hard work, I done a lot of similar work years ago and now I have a back like a kicked about crunchie bar....be careful, doing a good job there though, nice one
     
  15. mfrench

    mfrench Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,406
    Location:
    On the West Side of Rainbow
    What was:
    [​IMG]
    This is a shot from the realtors listing when we were looking to buy.
    What is of note: the pitch of the slope from the timber wall to the outer edge of the pathway. I'll point this out later. You can also see a silt flow pattern in the lower side of the pathway, aiming towards the house.

    The day that the cottage stone concrete retaining wall blocks arrived:
    [​IMG]

    The ground cover is cleared for what will be a dry creek channel and drainage trench for the drainage system that is to be installed behind the retaining wall. This drainage/dry creek channel is at the end of what will be a 45' run of a 90' retaining wall. This will also be built into a stepping stone pathway into what we call the "shade garden", where we cultivate the rare commodity of shade.
    It is a native chaparral shrub grove of toyon, oak, laurel sumac, eucalyptus trees and olive trees:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Drainage Trench:
    [​IMG]

    A new stairway to the swimming pool begins.
    The old staircase to the pool had badly rotten wood stringers, and was attached to rotten header at the deck. The deck needs to be replaced, and is a future project. SO rebuilding a staircase to a rotten sub-structure wasn't appropriate. So new stairway was developed in my mind.
    The new staircase is halfway up what will be the new retaining wall.
    It begins:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Length of retaining wall, looking from upper end. This is at the point where the upper drainage creek channel terminates behind/beside the retaining wall:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Trenches cut to 24" wide x 10"deep:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
  16. mfrench

    mfrench Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,406
    Location:
    On the West Side of Rainbow
    Drainage pipe fitted.
    This is the drain pipe that runs behind the first 45' of retaining wall. It is to take off the hydrostatic pressure that builds behind a wall. Its 4" drain pipe, and has two layers of silt/root filter socks; a mesh layer much like socks, and an outer geotex pipe wrap. The pipe running up the slope is as a clean out, and also too give access to a drain up at the pool area.
    [​IMG]
    Same run of drainage, from the daylight end:
    [​IMG]

    This is the terminal daylight end of the upper 45' retaining wall drainage:
    [​IMG]
    Backfilled with 3"- gravel:
    [​IMG]

    Wall trench with drainage pipe installed, and base-filled with 3/4" gravel, ready to begin wall building:
    [​IMG]

    Wall building begins at lowest end:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Wall backfilled with gravel, and showing drain pipe clean-outs:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The staircase was addressed on a per course basis, with final soil cutting done on that basis, at each course level. The final stairs will be concrete:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018

     

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  17. mfrench

    mfrench Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,406
    Location:
    On the West Side of Rainbow
    The wall courses were run with at least one course below grade, and often, two courses below grade:
    [​IMG]



    Second, upper wall section begins at staircase corner. Its course height matches the first, lower wall:
    [​IMG]
    Wall base all the way to the end, and wrapping into the coiled terminal wall end:
    [​IMG]

    Upper section, advanced stages:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Looking down entire 90' wall (90' linear to end of wall, not including the wrapped ends and staircase):
    [​IMG]

    OK,…. In this image, ^^, you can see what was our pathway to the rear of the property. You can see the steepness of the pitch running linear to the pathway. This pitch brought water from the rear of the property, down towards the house.

    That is the next issue to address: How to stop that flow, towards the house.


    Its intermission time again.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
  18. mfrench

    mfrench Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,406
    Location:
    On the West Side of Rainbow
    This is an overview of the lower dry creek drainage, and pathway.
    The pathway is poured-in-place concrete steppers that average 12 bags of concrete apiece, around 700lbs. per step. They are intended to block the flow that came down the old pathway, towards the house. The gaps allow for accumulated high side water to evacuate between and out at three possible creek channels (high side meaning water generated between retaining wall and stepper). The three channels were natural low drainage points that I armor plated. Any surface flow developing in this area is forced into the channels, and into the woodland'esque shade garden.

    More unfinished construction pictures,...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG] ~original

    dry creek drainage, with some plantings; stuff from mars, aka madagascar; aloes. And spineless mutant hybrid totem cactus from the desert southwest and baja mexico region.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
  19. mfrench

    mfrench Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,406
    Location:
    On the West Side of Rainbow
    Here are some finished pictures of the stairway, pathway, and lower dry creek drainages.

    stairs to pool:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Stone stairs up from shade garden:
    [​IMG]

    This side of the stairs (below) was going to be holding back soil as part of a stone retaing wall for leveling a pad in a area that was pitched. So I used stones as large/deep as the backfill depth was going to be.
    This is the fill side of the stone stairs:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    A few more finished pictures of the stone stairs:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The fill side, filled:
    [​IMG]


    Intermission time.

    those gloves that I showed you a few posts back,… with the new gloves that were taped up.

    this is them after four days:
    [​IMG]
    I can't imagine what my hands would look like without them.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
  20. Mark B

    Mark B Yamaha Fan Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,684
    Location:
    usa
    That is very nice work.

    My father built french drains like that on his property on a steep hillside in SW Washington.
     

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