new videos
hot off the press!  
    more about rocket
mass heaters here.

more videos from
the PDC here.
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

pics. and models of my project, advice and criticism welcome  RSS feed

 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1301
Location: Denver, CO
22
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here is a thread devoted to my yard project: turning a standard suburban yard of about a quarter acre into a permaculture paradise. This will be intensive rather than extensive permaculture: the goal is to feed eight people all of their fruits and vegetables, as well as some protein, while creating a thriving ecosystem to replace the spotty lawn and dying bushes. The site is in the Denver Metro, in the Platte river valley, in climate zone five. Summers are dry and fairly hot, while winters are mild and sunny for the most part, with occasional cold fronts and blizzards which quickly pass, but do lots of damage to unprepared plants which were basking in the warmth the day before. Spring and Fall are poorly defined; an eighty degree day in October can be followed by a blizzard the next day, bringing down trees with the weight of snow on the leaves. The high altitude means that the sun is quite intense, and there is a huge temperature difference between day and night, due to radiational cooling. The neighborhood is moderately good habitat, with large old trees, a few creeks/ trails, brushy areas around a small lake, and other good habitat areas.

I have not yet got a master plan done. Every time I think I am getting it, I read something else and get new ideas. So I have decided to go ahead and build the elements I am certain of, and work other things in around them over time.

My first project will be a combination of raised wicking beds, french drains, and an arbor on the southwest side of the house.

There are a couple of goals with this project: using the warm microclimate of a southwest facing wall; keeping water away from the foundation and basement window wells; shading the wall and windows in the summer; generating salads year around; and adding some interest to the yard.


Here is a series of sketchup models and pictures of the project.
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1301
Location: Denver, CO
22
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here is sketchup model view one.

You can see the preexisting brick wall of the house and the window wells. An important criteria for the design in that the french drain mist go under the level of the window wells. A perforated french drain pipe is running around the perimeter at a depth of two feet, and then sloping away to a dry well/ trench. A wicking bed distribution pipe lays on top of the raised area of soil in the middle of the trench. From the distribution pipe a fill/ float pipe rises to what will be the surface. There will be a float in this, connected to a small figure, which will appear when the bed is full of water and disappear when the bed needs refilling.

pipe-overview-copy.jpg
[Thumbnail for pipe-overview-copy.jpg]
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1301
Location: Denver, CO
22
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here is sketchup view two.

This is a closeup of the far right corner from the last PDF. You can see that the distribution pipe turns into a drain pipe which exits the bed. This will have a spigot on it so that we can drain the bed if necessary for repairs, etc. Above that is an overflow pipe, which will divert excess water into the french drain once the bed has about a foot of water in it.
Small-pipes-close-up.jpg
[Thumbnail for Small-pipes-close-up.jpg]
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1301
Location: Denver, CO
22
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here is sketchup view 3.

This is the rubble trench/ french drain, which has been added over the top of the pipes shown earlier. It will be wrapped in a filtration fabric to prevent it from silting up. Notice that the trench is twice as wide at the back, near the house wall. This is because the eventual bed will be kept back from the house wall by a foot.
rubble.jpg
[Thumbnail for rubble.jpg]
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1301
Location: Denver, CO
22
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here is sketchup model view 4

Here the urbanite walls have been added. There will be creeping sedums in the the cracks. The walls will probably be insulated on the inside with Styrofoam or something similar. However, this would make the creeping plants less successful, so I am still deciding on this.
walls.jpg
[Thumbnail for walls.jpg]
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1301
Location: Denver, CO
22
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sketchup model 5.

The pond liner, which will hold the water and gravel. From a foot below the surface to ground level. (The rubble trench french drains extend two feet below ground. The wall runs from a foot below to two feet above. )
pond-liner.jpg
[Thumbnail for pond-liner.jpg]
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1301
Location: Denver, CO
22
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sketchup model six.

The gravel. However, I will be using finely crushed urbanite rubble instead. I am wondering if this will affect the pH. To minimize this effect, I will be washing the rubble before filling it, and adding lots of peat moss to the soil above. The gravel layer will be topped with a landscape fabric.
gravel.jpg
[Thumbnail for gravel.jpg]
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1301
Location: Denver, CO
22
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
sketchup model seven.

Here the soil has been added. Notice the small area near the front, which is a different color. This is the soil for my grape fines. You might have noticed that this area is not a standard wicking bed at all, but a standard soil garden. That is because I will assume, unless otherwise informed, that grapes would not do well in a wicking bed. The main bed will be sort of a wicking sheet mulch, with lots of wood chips and manure, but a layer of fine compost/ soil on top, since the principle purpose of this bed is to grow annual greens, which need a fine seed bed.
soil.jpg
[Thumbnail for soil.jpg]
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1301
Location: Denver, CO
22
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sketchup model eight: the finished view.

The posts will be topped with cross beams for the grapes to grow on. This arbor will effectivly shade the walls and windows during the summer, while letting in Fall, Winter, and Summer sun. Due to the combination of shade in the hot months and sun on a brick wall in the cool months, lettuce and other greens should do splendidly here. The arbor will also help hold in the heat on cold winter nights. There will probably be a line of tomatoes right along the front edge during the summer, further shading the lettuce as the sun drops lower in the afternoon.

I will be trying to get lichens to grow on the urbanite.

Those brick piers in the picture are as deep as the bed foundation: two feet. They will be cinder block below ground. I think they will help give some definition and order to the urbanite walls.

Cold frames will be added in the winter. I may use a solar heater to warm the water reservoir. There will also be a worm house set into the soil layer, so that the worm castings tea can work through the whole bed in the water.
final.jpg
[Thumbnail for final.jpg]
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1301
Location: Denver, CO
22
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Some pictures of the project to date:

As it was.

IMG_3825.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_3825.JPG]
IMG_3826.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_3826.JPG]
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1301
Location: Denver, CO
22
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As it is now. Digging in progress, and LOTS of rubble. People have been very happy that I want their bricks and broken concrete. We have been spending a lot of time hauling stuff and chipping old cement of the bricks.

IMG_3836.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_3836.JPG]
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1301
Location: Denver, CO
22
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
(I can only show some of our rubble piles, because these pictures are gumming up the system!!!)
IMG_3835.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_3835.JPG]
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1301
Location: Denver, CO
22
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
An update:

I have decided to only put a pipe under the back wall, not under the front one as well. To make up for this, I will be putting a gravel layer under the whole thing, which can all drain to the pipe and then out. So if a gutter goes wrong, a hose is left running, or the wicking bed liner gets pierced, water will still drain quickly away.

The digging is finally done: here is a picture. Next step is to lay down trench wrap fabric and start shoveling gravel. We have been salvaging free gravel, but because of its former landscape use it is mixed with dirt. So we will have to screen it.

IMG_3972.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_3972.JPG]
 
allen lumley
pollinator
Posts: 4154
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
58
books fungi hugelkultur solar wofati woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Gilbert Fritz :I had a hard time visualizing the window wells treatment until the last picture ! Then it came clearly into focus ! Please continue with updates
on this project 1 IT looks like a winner ! Big AL !
 
Ghislaine de Lessines
Posts: 203
Location: Vermont, annual average precipitation is 39.87 Inches
9
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wow! That is quite the project! The largest wicking bed I have considered so far is a half barrel!
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1301
Location: Denver, CO
22
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ghislaine, this IS a big wicking bed! Sometimes as I dug out all that dirt, I wondered if it was worth it! Especially when the rain turned the whole thing into a sticky mess. Your farm is beautiful, by the way!

Allen, the reason I am going to so much trouble to really drain the window wells is because soon after we moved in, a gutter flooded one and water ended up in the basement. Don't want that happening again. And the whole reason I am putting in wicking beds is to avoid watering near the foundation, causing a damp finished basement. But then I got a vision of a catastrophic failure of the pond liner, and what that might due to the rooms down stairs! Don't want to be responsible for that! So I am possibly going overkill on drainage to be safe.

Currently, I am washing and sifting tons of gravel for the French drains and drainage layer. I salvaged somebody's gravel from an old landscaping project, and it is full of mud. I should have some more pictures tomorrow.

Also, I am beginning my greenhouse design. But since that is such a big project, I will be starting a second thread, with a link here showing where it fits in to my yard project as a whole.
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1301
Location: Denver, CO
22
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The sketchy start of a design for my greenhouse: http://www.permies.com/t/39805/projects/bioshelter-project-design-building#309894
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1301
Location: Denver, CO
22
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The drainage pipe when in today, on top of some gravel. The gravel is wrapped in trench wrap fabric, while the pipe has a fabric sock over it. I didn't get any pictures, maybe tomorrow. Next I will spread a layer of gravel over the bottom of the whole excavation, with landscape fabric underneath. This should make sure that in any accident, water will quickly drain to the pipe and out. It should also prevent frost heave in the walls. And that is the next step! I already have a fairly large collection of sedums in pots, which will be going in between the concrete chunks.
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1301
Location: Denver, CO
22
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Well, just after I got the down slope French drain backfilled, it poured rain, and we have two gutters dumping into the area. The pipe worked just fine, and all the water was carried away, but a lot of silt got into the layer of landscape fabric I was in the process of laying down for the next layer of gravel. So I am waiting for it to dry out.
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1301
Location: Denver, CO
22
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The walls are going up, and are about two courses high now. I don't have a current picture, but here is one with part of the first course in.

Looking at how jagged and irregular the concrete is, I am thinking that even a padded liner wouldn't stand a chance. Also, EPDM is quite expensive. So, I was wondering if I could use ferrocement? I would place the mesh against the sides and bottom, and trowel the cement over that. It would also help to tie the wall together. I would only do this up to the proposed water level drain pipe.
IMG_4046.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_4046.jpg]
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1301
Location: Denver, CO
22
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The weather has been warm recently, so I am back to work on this. (Denver is nice; I can always count on some midwinter thaws to keep work going.)

I use a recycled PVC liner. I was a little worried about the toxic nature of PVC, but then I thought about all the produce in the store being irrigated by PVC, and wrapped in who knows what. Also, the fungi in the bed will probably take care of a lot as it wicks upwards. None the less, next time I will buy an EPDM liner.

I divided the bed in half, because that was the size of liner I had. So I will have two smaller wicking reservoirs watering the same large bed.

I used polystyrene insulation sheets to protect the liner against the jagged edges of the concrete chunks. The pipe is for distribution of the water. The upright pipe should give you some idea as to how tall this is going to be. I had better haul home some MORE rubble.
IMG_4157.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_4157.JPG]
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1301
Location: Denver, CO
22
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is the other half of the bed; currently just the concrete work.

IMG_4159.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_4159.JPG]
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1301
Location: Denver, CO
22
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here is the gravel going in. You can see yoghurt cans being buried. In one half of the wicking bed, I am burying cans with little holes in them, and not compacting the gravel, to maximize empty space. In the other half, it will be just gravel, and will be packed down hard, to maximize contact and thus wicking. I will be able to see which works better.

IMG_4161.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_4161.JPG]
 
Forget Steve. Look at this tiny ad:
Thread Boost feature
https://permies.com/wiki/61482/Thread-Boost-feature
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!