Friday, December 16, 2016

Finishing touch...

We had to re-think the area adjacent to the house where the dogs have their fenced-in area.  It was originally planted with lantana, mulched, and had four-inch flagstone laid as a footpath.  All that remained after a few months of puppies was the flagstone.  Many holes were dug, some to see what is under the flagstone, some randomly placed for fun, and some in pursuit of the drainpipe that runs along the back of the house -- they found it about two feet down.  Further, the boys remained a disaster, making it difficult to have them in the main areas of the house simply because they were always dirty or muddy.  We swept the utility room (which they access through a dog-door and where their crates abide) twice a day, sweeping up half of a dustpan worth of dirt each time.  We want the boys to spend more time inside with us, so a solution had to be found.

The solution was not easy, but has made life with the boys much fuller.  I removed the flagstone from the area of concern.  I then proceeded to use my landscaper's rake (the head of which is three feet wide (0.9m)) to level what I could.  My older daughter and I then proceeded to add 14 bags of dirt (40 pounds each (18 kg)) to fill-in and tap-down the remaining holes and areas needing leveling.  After that, we laid two four feet by 50 feet (1.2m by 15.24 m) rolls of chicken wire (a.k.a. "poultry net").  We anchored them in-place using landscaping stables.  After that, we moved the flagstone back into position.  We then covered the area with cypress mulch, which tends to stay when it gets wet as opposed to floating away as pine mulch can do.  THe result is that the boys stay much cleaner, and we can let them in at-will.

Did it stop them from digging?  Yes, once they paw through the mulch and hit the chicken wire, they stop.  They still dig in the areas not covered by the chicken wire, which are all further away from the house.  Lessons learned?  Yes, when putting down the chicken wire, using the landscape staples to hold the ends is not enough alone.  I had to go back and use straight wire to lash the chicken wire to the fence, and this kept them from pulling at the ends.  If I could have gone under the fence and put the ends and staples out of their reach, it would have been fine to just use the staples.

Here are some pictures from the project, the last major landscaping effort (and a re-do at that!) for the main campus:

You can see in this picture that all the lantana and mulch have been removed
by the presence of "the boys".  It should be noted the unevenness of the surface
which is typical throughout the area, except out of picture to the right, where
deeper holes existed.

The stones removed (ufff!), ground filled and
leveled, and now the sections of chicken wire
are in place.  The boys were with us as we worked.

The boys at the gate of the refurbished area.
They are a curious and affectionate pair.

The finished product, highlighting the restored flagstone path.  The re-do of the path helped fix some of the
shortcomings of the original effort.  The bullrocks immediately in front of the extended porch were reworked to prevent
the rocks from sinking (weed-block material was put down before laying the chicken wire) and to integrate better with
the footpath and facilitate better water run-off.

...and it is so nice to have them inside whenever I want...