Monday, May 18, 2009

Knox HIll Restoration: Siding prep and grounds

This weekend we continued with the siding. Last weekend we removed the 1930's era siding from the house to expose the original 1871 clapboard siding. This weekend we worked on scraping and brushing clean the siding. Power washing is not an option on a house this old so everything is being done "old school". Scraping ( we were lucky that the house appears to have only been painted the original yellow then white washing after that) which is minimal as there isn't much heavy paint buildup. Brushing: to get all the soot and grime off. And lastly Hand washing: that will be the last prep step to be down. We will be using a special primer especially formulated for old wood with a low moisture content. This will allow the paint to properly adhere.

Work also continued on our 'sunken garden restoration' This week we dug down to the stone, much of which was cracked so we carefully removed it for use elsewhere in the landscape. Our plan is that this area will be covered in brick paver and we have decided on an additional feature in this areas a small "fire pit" which will actually be propane powered as an actual fire could give off too much heat and damage the tree above. This will be a nice feature on cool evening in the spring and fall months. Of course it will also entail running a connector line from the pit to a storage pit for the propane tank. We will use a standard "grill" tank as the fire pit is only used occasionally. We are still working out the details of the location and running the line top the center of the brick patio we we build.

The biggest part of the weekend was "building a hill", where the water feature will be. This involved creating a 3 foot at its highest point raised planting bed. Part of the soil came from the sunken garden excavation the remainder came from other locations on the lot. This approximately 250 sq foot hill was major undertaking. We used as much fill as possible such as concrete from demolition and such but there was still a good15 inches of top soil involved. The concrete blocks that are retaining the dirt on the sunken garden side had long sections of rebar inserted into the ground to anchor them and prevent any movement. These will have a stone face wall in front of them so there basic purpose is to retain the soil.

Most of the eastern side of the garden is shaded so we are selecting Hostas, and Ferns for this area. On the Northern side we are adding some pine trees. These will not only screen the sunken garden from street level but provide some sound deadening form any street noise, as well as protect the garden in winter from norther winds. This garden is a primary view from the formal parlor and the new side Veranda (future project) so this garden is one of the more critical in the landscape from a house view.

The main purpose of course of the hill is to provide a place for the water feature. This weekend we were able to do the "rough layout". Our plan includes an small upper level pond where the first waterfall will be. This will spill over into a second level, where the water will be diverted into two directions, One with a "cliff type fall" into the lower pond and the second a meandering stream with several small falls before finishing at the lower pond. The lower pond at its deepest will be about 2 feet deep to allow overwintering of fish. I've ordered the liner for this and we plan on abouta 1500-1800 gallon pump to power the falls. This water feature should provide a relaxing white noise and make the sunken garden courtyard a great place to sit and maybe read a book.
More to come, as always and lots more to do!

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