Friday, April 11, 2008

Trenches, Conduit, Groundwork

We've reached the second phase of the town home landscaping project. If this is your first read and you'd like to see a drawing of the landscape design plan as well as read about work done to date, then check out Post 1: Landscape Design ~ The Town House Plan or for the image friendly version just check out the pic at left taken at the completion of Phase I. Phase II will consist of digging a trench for the electrical conduit to power a water feature, lights, and laptops; the installation of said power train, and then the covering of trench and the groundwork for the patio.

With the plan in place, a quick (long and involved) trip to the local warehouse lumber store yielded a puzzle bag of PVC conduit bits, exterior grade electrical wire, various waterproof (g.f.c.i.) outlets and switches, and a bottle of Grape Fierce Gatorade (delicious btw). To start I put my dad to digging the 24"ish deep trench in which to bury the conduit. While the electrical wire is exterior grade and can be simply buried as is in the dirt, for safety reasons I took a couple extra precautions. Wouldn't want someone getting fried from burying some bulbs. So a 24" depth trench and PVC conduit should prevent a shocking time. For this project, I'm running three feeds. One for the water element switch, one for the lighting switch, and one for a free duplex to use for whatevs when sitting at the table.

After cramming the three feeds into the first lengths of conduit, we began the dance of trying to feed the remaining lengths (around 30') through the network of loops bends and falls. Which was completed with various grunts twists and yanks. The picture seen here shows the conduit snaking its way through the trench, and then up and over the retaining wall. There will be two exterior waterproof switches by the door to our home office. One will operate the water feature, and the other will operate accent lights. We easily could have skipped the added elements, but really this type of work is very easy and takes any garden to the next level.

With the conduit complete and buried, the next step was to prep the ground above the electrical run for the patio. Using long bits of wood and a spirit level to mark the grade, my dad and I began whacking in stakes around the perimeter. Next was attaching 2x4 pressure treated lumber to the stakes for the frame. We got the first half done, and then began grading the earth. We're planning on removing around 2" of soil from the top of the frame down. This is in order to leave enough room for weed block, a layer of finely crushed gravel for the patio to lay on, and then the patio itself. We've decided on a sandstone from Colorado. For detailed instructions on the groundwork and laying of a patio, check out this site.