El Sobrante Outdoor Patio, Till/Seed, And DIY Water Timer Sprinkler System, 2018

This originally was to be a large patio near an ugly cinder block guest house. 

It became that, paneling the house in redwood siding, and a pro-sumer/DIY sprinkler add-on for a client with roughly 1/3 acre. You’re not supposed to be able to do this for under $20,000. We did it for $5,000.

Their property was heavily divided by fences, had rock-hard earth (clay), dead, straw grass, and a lot of debris.

After emptying the sheds, we listed a lot of items on craigslist (lockers, awnings, sheds, lumber). Trimmed back the trees. The soil was initially too hard for a tiller, so we had to soften the earth with water for a few days, and make the till depth skid more shallow (about 5″).

We then trenched 200′, and installed Rain Bird swing pipe subterranean sprinkler line. Initially, we had three SA-42 (70′ radius) sprinklers, at 3 gpm, in the front, and 5 of the smaller SA-32 (50′ radius) sprinklers in the back. Also 3 gpm. But the water pressure would not power the pop-ups. So, we ended up removing an extra head from the front, moving it to the back, deactivating one of the rear sprinklers, and setting up a parallel water circuit – so we had no more than 2 sprinklers on any given line. They will run on an Orbit battery-powered water timer in the wee morning hours. So, we didn’t connect to any low-voltage landscaping system.

Sprinklers and yards aren’t our specialization, but the patio needed something around it and – again – pound for pound, grass and paint are the cheapest and most impactful things you can do to improve the look and feel and usability of a home.

The cinderblock house in the back yard will eventually have redwood paneling, installed by the home owner, who is a master furniture maker. Between that, removing the debris, installing the patio, the trimmed trees, and green grass – courtesy of Rain Bird and a little elbow grease – for under $10,000, they added probably $90,000 to their $600,000 appraisal value of the home.

In a month. Pretty awesome exterior remodel hack. 😉

The patio was originally going to be brick. In a herringbone pattern, and mostly an ‘L’ shape. But the client selected a stone from Lowe’s that was an irregular shape. We ended up using 135 stones to get about 170 square feet of coverage. Stepping stones will be added when the lawn begins to come in.

This was very exacting work that used a bed of paver gravel over landscaping fabric, gentle grading for rain drainage and runoff, and an angle grinder and masonry saw for the precision cuts.