Thursday, January 29, 2009

our yard

I had mentioned working on my front patio last week and somebody asked about photos, so here are some views of what I was working on.

This is the front of our house. The attached garage is to the immediate left, and over on the right side is one of the bedrooms, creating a small courtyard in between. Our front door is right in the center of the picture, reached via a gate that is behind the wall on the right. Our front room (parlour?) is located there, with a big picture window looking out onto the courtyard, which is about twenty by twenty feet square. This side of the house faces east, so we get the morning sun but being enclosed really cuts down any breeze making it a hot area in the summer afternoons. I just put up those big steel beams overhead and the vertical posts holding them up, placing the covering about nine feet high. We will put some kind of lattice on top, we didn’t want a full solid covering. We are still debating on what to put up, but will probably end up with 2x4 inch boards standing on edge set about 2 inches apart. Our house is a single story ranch style, so that would seem to fit in. We put in the tree just to the right which is starting to get fairly good size, and the branches of a wisteria planted several years ago can be seen, which we will train up over the top. It bloomed a lot last year, and should be nice there, providing more shade with the flowers hanging down all over. It’s similar to what we did at our house in San Diego.

Out back there is a similar frame structure but here we put up solid metal roofing. Below is the concrete we put down when we pulled out all the grass back here. It’s the full length of the house, about fifty feet long and eighteen feet wide. I put the top up high, to keep the heat way up and let the breezes blow in over the roof, and put in a few fans just to move the air when the wind dies down.

I put up all of this using metal instead of wood, which would be more typical as wood is easier to work with, because of the strong sunlight. Wood tends to deteriorate rather quickly here, requiring frequent painting and upkeep. The steel structure should last a long time with minimal work, and also let me use fewer vertical posts and less framing to keep it all together. Our pool is back around the side of the house.

Stepping back a bit here is a further shot. We put in a similar covering a little lower to the right covering an area just outside our kitchen. This is where we put a dining table, and eat out here a lot. There is another fan located right over the table, just behind the green bush to the right, and a pile of stones in the middle set up as a small fountain, which the birds really like coming to. This was all grass when we moved in, and after a few big water bills was pulled out and converted to desert landscaping, with a hard groundcover and bushes and trees that fit the environment. We’ve got a few dozen sage bushes, a few yellow acacias and about a dozen trees. To the left is our row of rosemary with a grassy area we left in. Out of the picture to the left is the peach tree, with E’s favorite swing hanging from it.

We are pleased with the way things have turned out. We took out about 15,000 square feet of grass and cut down our water consumption tremendously, along with having to mow such a huge lawn. The bushes provide lots of color and different shades of green and we can still stick assorted plants wherever we want to. It took me a while to get used to having bare instead of green but now I am used to the desert theme. So that's a Vegas yard in the wintertime. The grass is brown, most of the trees and bushes have lost their leaves, but the palm trees are green as are enough other trees and plants to still make it nice.

We are in an older section, (by 'old' I mean the houses were put in over thirty years ago, which is old in Vegas) so the newer developments do not look like this. Our lot is 150 by 150 feet square, which would probably hold four or five houses in the newer developments. A recent trend is to make the lot even smaller with a tall skinny three story house on it, a back yard fifteen feet deep and houses six feet apart. I know that you don't really get a yard in older or big cities, but geez, there is so much land out here why cram everybody together like that?

We do have ‘regular’ flowers too. While taking the first photo I noticed our paperwhites right in front of the wall were blooming. The warm two weeks are over, yesterday it was 29f when I got up, with a high yesterday of around 50, but this morning it was 42 with 62 predicted, going up to the high sixties for the rest of the week. I would much rather have desert landscaping then those white lawns I see on television.


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