Court(yard) Drama

You may recall I did a major overhaul of my front courtyard last spring. If you really pay attention to the blog, you remember I only did the northern half. I started the southern half today.

Our courtyard, like many others in the desert, has landscaping of crushed rock on top of plastic sheeting. The plastic, of course, is intended to suppress weeds. There’s also an underground irrigation system for those plants we have put in. It’s a nice deserty landscaping, and very water efficient. Fairly low maintenance, as well.


But, you’ll be astonished to learn, this being a desert, there are lots of dusty breezes blowing through. Over the years, the accumulation of that dust has formed a layer of clay like soil on top of the plastic sheeting. For a few years, most weeds rooting in that plastic can be suppressed via herbicide. But eventually, they start to take over. Further, the plastic sheeting deteriorates. So my task is to pull up the rock, wash it, remove and dispose of the accumulated dusty clay like soil (and often, some of the nice sandy loam underneath), lay new plastic, and put the freshly washed rock back in place. Sounds easy, huh?



It’s actually not so bad. Except sifting the dirt out of the rocks is physically demanding. The weights aren’t excessive, but they are awkward.

The real problem today came from the irrigation system. The system consists of a 3/4” PVC pipe running from a control box on the far wall underground the length of the courtyard.  From holes poked into it at various intervals, 1/4” plastic tubing risers come up to the surface, and discharge through drip heads, misters and other fittings. The control box is a timer, so the system is only pressurized for about 30 minutes, at 8am each day. And what I’d failed to consider was that the same harsh UV and other stresses that effect the plastic sheeting also work on the plastic tubing. As I was clearing away rocks from the soil, sure as heck, I broke one of the tubes.

Well, I’m not the handymanest of men, but this was no biggie. I’ve got a supply of extra tubing and fittings and connectors. But the problem was, the tubing was so deteriorated, I had to replace it all the way down to the PVC. And when I unthreaded the connector to the PVC, I dumped a bunch of dirt in the open pipe.


If I try to just reconnect it, all that sandy soil will instantly clog the system. And since I can’t for the life of me figure out how to adjust the timer system to run some water through the line, to clear it out, I’ve got to wait until morning for it to run. And flood, of course, And only then can I try again to reconnect the tubing, without screwing that up. Which there’s a fair chance I will…

I’ve been away from the infantry a long, long time, but I guess I still just have to play in the dirt.

8 thoughts on “Court(yard) Drama”

  1. I’d rather drink beer whilst riding my mower. Gravel was the most high maintenance yard I ever had.
    Good on you for the irrigation repair try. I always assumed NASA had chimpanzees with more mechanical inclination than you.

  2. Brad, email me some pictures of your sprinkler valves and I’ll walk you through how to flush the lines. You should be able to do it without dealing with the timer.

    1. By the time I get my camera, find the valves, and take and upload pics, it’s just easier to let the water flush it out right about the time I get up, then fix the problem.

    2. heh

      99% of the valves out there, there’s a knob on them that you turn 90 degrees and it’ll open up.

      1. I’m finally in the 1%!!

        It’s an electronic control box. As it turns out, more importantly, when the system starts at 6:30am and shoots water 10′ in the air, turning the control knob all the way to the right shuts it down.

        Mission Accomplished!

        //hangs banner

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