May 15, 2010
The excavators began the final grading by smoothing out the hillside to the north of the house, and then they spread topsoil over it. They hauled truckload after truckload of the topsoil that we had stockpiled when it was removed during the initial excavation.
The finished grade in back of the house is gradually sloped to direct all runoff to the east. It drops about a foot from west to east along the back of the house.
The photos below are taken from the northeast corner of the house, showing how the grade directs surface water toward the valley at the southeast corner. The big roof is our rainwater collection surface, which collects about 2000 gallons of water per inch of rain. As soon as the grading was done we hooked up a temporary connection to divert all this water through the cistern overflow drain and into the valley rather than dumping it along the back of the house, to prevent it from washing the topsoil away. Soon we’ll connect the rest of the plumbing so we can store all this water in the cistern.
May 17, 2010
We had a couple of large flat rocks placed right under the roof valleys on the south roof, which is the only roof without gutters. You can see one of them in the second photo below. The rocks are angled away from the house to keep the rainwater from splashing back onto the siding.
These photos show the spreading of topsoil to the south of the house. The topsoil is about a foot deep here, because this will become our main garden area.
May 18, 2010
The grading is now completed. These photos show the main garden area on the south side of the house. We put a 2-foot-wide band of wood chips around the foundation to keep vegetation away from the house. The rest will be planted in a combination of flowers, small fruits, and vegetables.
The first photo below shows the finished driveway, which is now covered with crushed recycled concrete in the area within about 50 feet of the house. This will pack down almost as solidly as a concrete slab but it’s much less expensive and easier to maintain. The second photo below shows the southwest corner of the cottage. All of this bare dirt will be garden space.