Folsom's Rainbow Bridge

Folsom's Rainbow Bridge
Rainbow Bridge crossing the American River in Folsom, CA

Monday, August 1, 2011

Final Grading in Old Folsom

Hello and welcome back to Local Fruit in Folsom, Ca. The past few weeks construction really seemed to slow down as the work in progress was interior, detailed and time consuming. The finish trim took a full two weeks to complete and was followed by a week of interior painting and prep. This blog is about grading, water permeable surfaces and the beginning of landscaping for our new home in Old Folsom.

Graded future patio and sloped side yard
Two exciting milestones occurred last Monday: final grading and the delivery of the solar panels. Quality final grading is critical to all construction projects to ensure water drainage is adequate, but even more so when dealing with a narrow and sloped lot. Our lot drops 10 ½ feet from the southeast corner to the northwest corner, which may not seem like much except the lot is only 50 feet wide so the slope is significant across a short distance. Returning the slope to the original grade is important to prevent water damage and to protect the heritage oak trees. A sloped lot also means that we should plan for the water that will come from neighbors uphill…at least we know the area well and understand where water runs in the rainy season.

The grader was a real master, a man named Martine with incredible skill. He brought equipment including a tractor that was about 25 years old and wonderfully patched up. The seat was 100% covered with red tape and there was a rag used to plug a hole in the sidewall of one the tires. To me, Martine had an uncanny resemblance to a Mexican version of Dustin Hoffman, especially when he was concentrating on the job at hand. We walked the lot to review our design-not an engineering plan but the simple design drawing from my PC home design software-a print out which is not technical enough for a grader. Martine then walked the lot with his hands out, mentally calculating and “feeling the flow” of the lot. Several hours later, I went home to pick up a few cold beers and returned to find the laser shooting the back yard. Martine said he was 1 ½” off in one corner which is amazing because we did not provide any before of after measurements. Think about it… a true master who read the slope, returned the soil perfectly to original grade (which he had never seen) and did it all using old school gear with no measurements. I think this was a challenge for Martine and he seemed to enjoy the challenge. I was honored to meet him and to watch him work; I can recommend his work without hesitation to anyone need a good grader. It is so inspiring to watch a master tradesman in action, especially a magician like Martine!

Landscape design - patio, trees, trellis, grapes (makes sense?)
It is satisfying to start laying out the landscaping, at least enough for the landscapers to bid on the project. We are hands-on owners, especially with the landscaping and landscape design. A dear friend used the term “No dry cows” which means don’t plant anything that is not productive. We hope to grow plants & trees that are edible, or at least have other household value. There will even be four raised beds so we can plant a spring/summer and a fall/winter garden. The City provided compost bin has been in use for several months, and we are beginning to haul potted plants from our little rental yard. We must be careful, or the deer will get to our plants before we can install fencing. Between the birds, dear and occasional worker, the figs have been well eaten this summer!
We originally planned to have water permeable surfaces for our hardscape, which means pavers or hard surfaces that do not create runoff. Rainwater should filter through the patio or sidewalk to the soil and become groundwater, verses draining off on the surface to the storm sewer and away from the soil. Worse yet, uncontrolled runoff causes erosion and damage to the municipal storm sewer system.

Unfortunately, our project has cost over runs in other areas, and permeable surfaces are no longer an option. The most attractive hard surface is stone, which is now out of the budget. Stamped and stained concrete may be what we end up with.  concrete provides more color and texture options and should be very attractive. The current design has a much reduced the patio area to create more planting areas for small fruit trees and ground cover. This will give us the best of both: more beds and greenery and a smaller more intimate patio for the outdoor dining area.

With a little creativity, a slope is a landscaping asset! Even a narrow lot looks better with grape vines, yes? If we put grapes on the fence, perhaps the deer will nibble on grapes and quince, and leave the roses alone.

Solar Panels on the west side of the roof
The solar panels were installed today, but are not yet hooked up. I will blog about the PV system in a week or so.

1 comment:

  1. Stephanie. Bummer you weren't able to install permeable pavers. I saw them installed a few weeks ago during the landscaping at one of the local beaches. They were trying to prevent uncontrolled runoff from damaging the beach. Amazing to see them in action and so much better for the environment.