Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Project: Water-wise Landscaping

My husband and I bought our first home in January. It is a bi-level home in on of the higher areas of the city. Despite this, we found water seeping into our basement this year as the water started to melt.

It was frustrating, to say the least. Not only had the previous owners signed a form saying that there were no known water problems, but we had also had a home inspector in, who found no sign of such problems.

We brought the home inspector back in, and he claimed that our issues were "due to the ground being too frozen for the quick melt to get to the weeping tile" and that it wouldn't be a problem once the ground thawed. We were disappointed, as we live in Canada after all, frozen ground isn't exactly a rare occurrence.

Imagine our surprise later in the spring when the ground had most certainly melted, but upon a heavy rainfall we began to see water seeping into the basement again! (This was the first of several times through the spring that this occurred).

Back came the home inspector with his new fancy moisture detection tool - he decided that the water was most definitely coming in through the corner, and that there wasn't a crack in the foundation, it was just seeping in because there was too much moisture in that area. We were no longer convinced.

After seeking guidance from some family members, we decided that we needed to find the crack in the foundation (that we were sure was there at this point), and seal it. In addition, we needed to fix the grading in our yard so that water would no longer collect alongside the foundation.

As you can (sort of) see in this picture, the previous owners had a flower bed along the south side of the house. What you can't see is that the flower bed is at least 2" lower than the rest of the lawn, and that much of the lawn slopes toward it. In addition, the lawn also slopes towards the front corner of the house, where the water cannot escape due to a raised driveway.

Over the course of a weekend, Gilles, his parents and I were able to find the crack in the foundation, determine (luckily) that there was no damage or mold inside the wall, seal the crack, and build up the dirt along that wall. We also removed all of my plants from the flower beds in front of the house, filled them with clay, and graded them so that water would run away from the house. This was step 1.

Step 2: Our beautiful birch tree in front of the house was unfortunately, dying. We had a treeing company come in and remove the tree, as it had only a year left.

Step 3: Kill the lawn, front and back. We then treated the front and back lawns with RoundUp, so that they would break away easier as we graded them, and wouldn't come away in such large clumps.

Step 4: Bring in the heavy machinery. It would have taken far too long to grade the entire yard by hand, so instead we hired someone to come in with a Bobcat and regrade the front lawn for us.

Step 5: After this, we attempted to get someone in to install sprinklers, but were informed that no one (we tried 20 companies) would be available until next year.

This concluded the grading portion of the project. After this we moved into creating a raised flower bed for the front yard, optimizing the soil and grade, and seeding grass. More posts to come on these subjects.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Caught in a whirlwind

Fall has begun, and with it a whirlwind of activities. Yes, I still intend to post more about Iceland and bring a special feature on Boston to you... but until I have time to put that together, you get to hear about my super fantastic normal life.

If you are someone who has 'friended' me on Facebook or follows my Twitter account, you'll know that there has been a lot going on, and all of it is awesome. (If you aren't, I assume you don't actually know me, which is cool because I've actually reached you. But seriously, follow my Twitter. It's @CParentSK)

First, I spent more time in airports than at home in August. Okay, not necessarily the coolest but that means I got to spend a heck of a lot of time out of Saskatoon and being an explorer.

Second, I have awesome family and friends that took care of my garden, my cats and my fish during this time so that I wouldn't come home and be really, really sad. Unfortunately I forgot to instruct anyone to water my houseplants, and when I got back my spider plant looked something like this:

(not my plant, but you get the idea)
That said, when I got home my cousin-in-laws (is that a thing?) were visiting, so there was a houseful. Then as soon as they left, my grandpa was due to have his hip replaced so I again had a house full of visitors for the week, as the surgery took place in Saskatoon.
Meanwhile, there have been lots of little extras going on. I ran a half marathon again on Sunday, this time with my sister - and I am still on a high from it.

We also broke ground (literally) on our landscaping project. Previously we had fixed the crack in our foundation and had the tree removed from the front yard (it was near dead). Now we brought someone in to regrade the front yard, and now we are working on building a raised flower bed. We will also be regarding the sides of the house and reseeding the front and back lawns, in addition to removing the poplar tree from the backyard, putting in sprinklers in the front, and planting a new tree in the front (likely a Linden).

Adding to our long list of exciting happenings, we will be running a colour run (a 5k where you get coloured powder thrown at you while you run, so that you look like a rainbow when you're done) this weekend, and Gilles' cousin will be moving in with us (for a short stay) in two weeks!

Yup, life is pretty good.

Tell me! What is new in your neighbourhood?? Let me know in the comment box below!