Posts Tagged With: trenching

How to Build a Backyard Pond in 10 Simple Steps

how-to build a backyard pondOne sure way to add a beautiful focal point to any landscape is to introduce a water feature. What about building a backyard pond? It will not only add diversity, it attracts beneficial wildlife. Adding a small pond with trickling water is an easy weekend project, plus you and your family will enjoy it for years to come.

Keep it Close

To get the maximum enjoyment from your pond, keep it close to your home. You want to see and hear it from your windows or patio area. Because you need electricity for the pump, keep the pond within close proximity to an outdoor outlet. Most pumps come with a 24-foot power cord; any further than that and you will need to extend your power lines.

Not Too Much Sunlight, Please

Ponds need sunlight to support beneficial wildlife and they prefer partial daily exposure. Too much sun can warm the water too much and allow algae to thrive. Avoid positioning your pond near large trees. Roots can damage your lining in their quest for moisture. Besides, fishing leaves out of your pond all the time is no fun.

Habitat for Fish?

Do you want a fish pond? You and your family may enjoy taking care of fish. However, they will need to be fed daily and the pond filter will need to be cleaned or changed regularly. It’s a decision to make before committing to be “fish parents.” If you commit, build in water depth to the pond, which is more critical than circumference. You need to dig a minimum of 18 inches for goldfish and three feet for koi in order for them to survive the winter.

The Soothing Sounds of a Waterfall

Consider adding a waterfall to your pond. Keeping the water moving and aerated helps keep algae in check and prevents mosquitoes from laying eggs. Flowing water also attracts birds and other interesting wildlife. Plus you benefit from the soothing sounds yourself.

Time to Start Digging

Now that you’ve decided where and how large of a pond you want, it’s time to call 811 to have someone come out and determine where underground gas and electrical lines might be. Once you’re clear of that, it’s time to start digging.

  • Mark the outline – form the shape you want with twine or landscape paint.
  • Excavate the area – if you are going for a lovely large water feature you may want to consider using a Bobcat or an excavator to make your digging easier.
  • Terrace the pond
  • Create a 3-inch wide area around the outside of your outline for the stone border.
  • Create a 1-foot wide shelf around the inside of the outline for aquatic plants. It should be about 8 inches deep from the edge of the pond.
  • Dig the bed of the pond a minimum of 18 inches deep, sloping slightly in creating the walls.

4) Dig a trench back to the power supply – this should be close to the deepest part of the pond since that is where the pump will go.

5)   Add an overflow trench at one end of pond – It should be about 6 inches wide and 1 inch deep to help channel overflow caused by heavy rains away from your pond.

6)   Prepare the Base – Add a 1 inch layer of sand followed by a 1/2” layer of newspapers around the entire base of the pond and terrace areas. The newspaper will help protect the liner from punctures.

7)   Line the Pond – Use a polypropylene flexible liner that can withstand UV rays, freezing temps, and is rated “fish friendly”. Cut the liner about 4 feet wider and longer than the pond dimensions. Center the liner in the pond and press it down, pushing tightly into the crevices.

8)   Fill the Pond – Begin adding water to the pond using a garden hose. While the pond is filling up pull the liner tightly to help remove creases. Get someone to help with this so that the extra liner you’ve left over the pond edge will not shift.

9)   Install the pump – Thread the power cord through a PVC pipe and place it in the trench leading back to exterior outlet and backfill. Place the pump in the deepest section of the pond while holding onto the other end of the hose.

10) Create a Rock Border – To hide the liner edge place rocks around the perimeter. The rocks need to interlock so they will not be loose and cause a safety hazard. Create easy access for wildlife by extending some of the rocks into the shallow water.

Jump Start Your Pond’s Ecosystem

Landscaping inside and around your pond is important for completely the look of your water feature. It helps to attract wildlife like birds and butterflies, and looks pretty to the human eye, too. To jump start your pond’s ecosystem add a bucket of water from a nearby natural water source. It will introduce millions of organisms and help keep your pond’s health in balance with nature.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your landscaping projects. From Bobcats and excavators to shovels and wheel barrows, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: DIY Projects, Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Keeping Critters at Bay Part 2: Solutions for Moles & Raccoons

Rid Yard of Moles & RaccoonsWhile admiring your recently groomed landscape, you notice a raised dirt trail snaking its way through the yard. No mole is going to destroy your lush sea of green grass or ruin your veggies. But before you go into combat mode and start acting like Bill Murray in Caddyshack, take a breath. There might be a simpler (more natural) way to battle moles and other pests without having to resort to land mines.

Know Thine Enemy

Bill Murray’s plan for troublesome rodents works fine – especially for laughs. Why not learn a little bit about the pesky mole, first? They are insectivores and from the same family as bats. Their main diet consists of insects, grubs and larvae like earthworms. They are around 4-8 inches in length with paddle-like front feet and have little to no vision. What moles are best at is digging. They can tunnel up to 100 ft per day. Only one other mole skill may rival this – they eat day and night.

Traps Aren’t the Only Way

How do you battle this underground critter? Experts say that traps work the best at eliminating moles, raccoons and other pests, but we’d prefer to go a more humane route first. Home remedies have had spotty success, but they are worth a try. Many of these measures need to be taken before you plant your gardens. However, if your yard consistently has moles and other pests then you may find them helpful.

  • Trench around your garden – Dig a trench around your garden to force moles and other burrowing pests to tunnel in a new direction. Keep in mind though, this isn’t practical for a large garden or lawn and the labor is intense.
  • Line your garden bed with wire – Dig down deep enough to place a layer of wire mesh in the bottom and along the sides of your garden area. This will force the pests to seek easier food sources.
  • Eliminate grubs – Getting rid of one of the mole’s favorite foods will cause them to seek elsewhere. The only problem is that earthworms are still available in your garden and you need them to keep your soil healthy.
  • Sprinkle kitty litter – By spreading kitty litter into the mole holes the smell will deter the moles from returning to the tunnel. Unfortunately they will dig alternate ones.

Plants that Chase Pests Away

A natural way to eliminate a wide variety of pests including moles, raccoons and even the heinous mosquito is to practice companion gardening. For years farmers have been planting “companion” plants in their vegetable gardens to create a vegetative barrier that deters insects and pests. Companion plants are ones that pests have a natural aversion to like marigolds, daffodils and Crown Imperial (Fritillarias). Adding these plants around your lawn or garden may help deter moles, raccoons and squirrels from eating away at your veggies or flowers.

Here is a short list of plants and the pest/s they repel:

  • Calendula (pot marigold) – raccoons and dogs (not a true marigold, so moles will not be repelled)
  • Castor beans – moles (poisonous, so keep away from small children and pets)
  • Crown Imperial – rabbits, mice, moles, voles and ground squirrels
  • Daffodils – moles and deer
  • Garlic – aphids, Japanese beetles and rabbits
  • Lavender – moths, fleas and mosquitoes
  • Mexican Marigolds – insects, rabbits and moles
  • Mole Plant – moles and ground squirrels (poisonous, so keep away from small children and pets)
  • Oregano – pests in general

Put Down the Dynamite

Keeping critters at bay doesn’t have to be a war of wills. There are natural solutions you can try before you turn to setting traps or using chemicals. Surrounding your garden or lawn with plants that naturally repel pests looks great and won’t poison your soil. It’s a win-win. Besides, if you do go all “Caddyshack” and dynamite the mole holes, you will eventually have to fill them back in. So leave the explosives alone.

If you are determined to go with a chemical deterrent, then check out our blog post Protecting Plants from Pests, for the lowdown on safely using pesticides to ward off unwanted visitors to your lawn or garden.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From trenchers to wheel barrows and shovels, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Safely and Effectively Use a Trencher

Trenching EquipmentWant to dig a trench? There is special equipment for that!

In addition to a shovel and massive amounts of strength and sweat, the most effective tool to dig a trench is a machine called a trencher. If you want to lay cable or fiber optics, install a drainage system or place pipes underground, a trencher helps dig holes with consistent width and depth through a variety of surfaces to be cut, including soil, stone and pavement. Most include a mechanism to clear excavated material from the trench, too.

Trenchers range in configuration from walk-behind models, to attachments for a skid loader, to portable hand-held tools. They use different types of cutting elements, depending on the hardness of the cutting surface. Because they involve cutting with teeth, chain or blade, use trenchers with proper care.

Types of Trenchers

1. Rockwheel Trencher: uses a cutting wheel fitted with teeth to move soil. Teeth are made from industrial strength steel or cemented carbide and are changed out or adjusted easily by hand, allowing for multiple cutting widths and depths, as well as ground conditions. The wheel design lets the machine cut at a constant angle to the ground. Excavated materials are cleared from the trench through an ejector system.

  • Works hard or soft soils
  • Work homogeneous, compact rocks, silts and sands or heterogeneous, broken rock, alluvia and moraines
  • Less sensitive to blocks in soil
  • Cuts pavement for road and underground utilities maintenance
  • Cheaper to operate and maintain than chain trenchers

2. Micro Trencher: uses a cutting wheel specially designed to work in tighter spaces such as a city or other urban area. The teeth cut in smaller widths that range from about one to five inches and a depth of 20 inches or less. Excavated material is also less.

  • Works harder ground than chain trencher
  • Cutting through solid stone
  • Cuts trenches with no associated damage to the road
  • Used to minimize vehicle and pedestrian traffic congestion
  • Digs smaller trenches for optical fiber connections
  • Effective for sidewalks, narrow streets
  • Cuts pavement for road and underground utilities maintenance
  • Sometimes radio-controlled 

3. Chain Trencher: uses a chain or belt to cut through the ground. Like a chainsaw, the cutting element moves around a metal frame or boom, which is adjusted at a fixed angle to accommodate different cutting depths. Excavated materials can be removed by conveyor belt.

  • Works hard soils
  • Digs wider trenches for telecommunication, electricity, drainage, water, gas, sanitation
  • Can cut narrow, deep trenches
  • Good for work in rural areas
  • Used to excavate trenches in rock, along with hydraulic breakers or drill and blast

4. Portable Trencher: uses a chain or blade that rotates like a rotary lawn mower to dig trenches. Lightweight and easily maneuverable, these machines are sometimes used in conjunction with other types of equipment to finish landscaping and lawn care jobs.

  • Cuts trenches for landscape edging and irrigation lines
  • Used in combination with a drainage pipe or geotextile feeder and backfiller to lay drain or textile and fill trench in one pass

How to Operate a Trencher in 3 Steps

Step 1: Turn on the engine and warm up the machine. Put the transmission in neutral, make sure the hydraulic pump is off (if applicable), unlock the wheels and move the trencher in place.

Step 2: Once in position to start digging, make sure the wheels are positioned so they work together, start the cutting element spinning and lower it to its first depth, put the transmission in forward, engage the removal apparatus and start digging. Keep the power on full throttle, controlling speed by using the transmission.

Step 3: Once you dig all the down, put the machine in reverse to start moving backward. Most machines will trench in reverse.

Safety Tips

  • Wear protective clothing, eye and ear wear, utility gloves
  • Stand away from the machine when it’s operating (unless you’re the operator) to avoid getting hit by excavated material
  • Before you start digging, locate underground wires or pipes by calling your local utility company

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with excavating your property. We carry a full line of trenchers designed for many types of landscaping, lawn care or digging projects. If you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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