Mud and weeds. Weeds and mud. That’s been our daily battle since we moved here. Like a mechanic driving a shitbox or a cobbler with wore out shoes, our personal stuff always took a back seat to bigger infrastructure projects and the money went to buying more steers. It was time to do some landscaping around the house to give us a long term break on daily chores.
We did an “OK” job of drainage and slopes when we first set up the house pad but they would need a big tune up to not lose $2000 worth of gravel in our big storms. We’ve also desperately needed shade on the South and West side of the house. Our intense, high altitude sun can heat up the house surprisingly fast in July and August. Plus, looking at bare dirt had grown old.
After pulling all the weeds, “again”- it was time to work on creating gentle slopes away from the house. This was done with an adjustable mold board and a box blade. You can see the weed problem in this pic. We literally pull weeds for at least an hour per day in the garden area and can’t hardly get ahead of it. You can also see how well they grow around the house too.
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Here’s the two attachments we use to shape dirt with a small tractor.
Some of the rough work done. Three years of material being washed toward the fence needed to be relocated back into the slope.
Knowing what grows good here we found 24″ box oak trees, one ash and a 15 gallon willow. After hauling home in the stock trailer we agonized over correct placement taking in to consideration, mature growth, views, shade in the hottest months and still being able to have our original service road be usable long term.
I was able to get the dump truck close enough to the holes to just remove the crappy clay and rock I was pulling out. Once the trees are in it’s much harder to get the continuous, long runs with the box blade to smooth and shape. I used river sand, decomposed granite from a neighbors place and a bit of compost to pre-mix material to go back in the oversized holes along with the trees. I’m hoping this gives the roots a great start this winter and into next spring.
Next was plopping the trees in the ground and building tree wells. We also cut up leftover SDR30 leach pipe to cover the base of the trees to keep the cats from using them as scratching posts. We learned the hard way after losing a cherry tree to the cats this year.
After picking out a gravel color that blends into the native dirt and shitting my pants over the cost plus trip fee to get it here, this guy showed up. In all, we used 35 yards of it.
We used the same weed barrier and nail gun to do the yard. We’d lay down a manageable area the spread gravel so we didn’t have to drive tractors over the weed cloth. This also let us take breaks for weather without worrying about expensive weed barrier flapping in the wind between days we had available to work on it.
We have an unlimited supply of 4″+/- rock just covering the ground. We used it to fill the tree wells to protect the irrigation emitter heads along with keeping the dogs and cats from digging (which they happily do any chance they get).
Here are the finished pics. We radiused the East side of the yards to keep the flow of the driveway around the house. This is the path we use anytime we are bringing in yearling steers or hauling finished beef to the butcher. We still need to haul in road base to finish the driveway but winter showed up and made things too muddy to haul (which explains why I have time to update this thread!).
We still have a collection of cool decorative boulders to put in place along with a few shrubs (spring project) and some solar lighting to do. This is as far as mother nature would let us get this year. We’ve already had a couple rains over an inch and our drainage worked great, all the rock is still in place and mud on the patio tracked up from dogs is cut by 80%, easily.