New Project Going In – Pizza!

Like most of my projects, I have some good clients with typical spaces, for me to design better than the norm. Or at least in spite of that outside my control.

I’m not an artiste or landscape star-chitect, complaining even when given large budgets (called modest) and design latitude (saying my hands are tied), but it’s how I have to roll! Honesty, a proactive mindset, and gratitude are great pillows to rest on, that no exotic vacations or exalted podiums can provide.

And it’s how I pay my bills, improving the world by outdoor living, one place several places at a time. From Albuquerque, 12/2013 –

irrigation partly in, plants in near the building…

plants for detention basin (that floods) and slopes or higher areas (that stay drier), awaiting a trip back to the contractor’s yard until planting day…
coffee break at the end of day, to plan needed field adjustments…
drip poly line, with distribution or spaghetti lines to each plant in the trench (rarely do contractors follow my specs on this, just putting it on the grade below the mulch or weed fabric)…
I often design PVC pipe to carry water to looped lengths of poly tubing, to minimize damage to more delicate poly tubing from rodents or vandalism, and maintain a more even flow of water
crusher fines mulch, AKA decomposed granite, going in on completed planting areas…
Silverberry, Turpentine Bush and those “precious” Valley Cottonwood trees installed on basin slope; basin grasses and plants remain…

The poor choice of Rio Grande Cottonwood was not mine; there are less problematic, thirsty and locally native riparian trees, but the HOG (horticultural old guard) wrote the development’s plant list which prohibited them; they’re rather behind the power curve of arid-region horticulture.

Speaking of that plant list, it also disallowed native grasses like all the gramas, and especially the valley natives Giant Sacaton and Alkali Sacaton – perfect for detention basins that receive periodic flooding.

But in time, the desert and logic will win :-)

Deergrass mass to the south, on the lower basin slopes…
the supplier had many extra rotary heads for my change on the basin / ponding area irrigation, thanks to another job cancelling their order…
the developer ‘s street and sidewalk access started as landscaping is going in…ah, #NewMexico  #LackOfPlanning…
Faxon Yucca and blueish Paleleaf Yucca in, drip irrigation almost in…yes, that’s a patch of snow on the far slope…
backflow preventer with a power source for heat tape – winter freeze protection…in future, I’ll be using the Strong Box “Polar Barrier” insulation bag to keep it from winter freezing, as we don’t need such costly, cumbersome measures of freeze prevention…
the front going in, awaiting some boulders…Faxon or Palm Yucca and Trailing Germander
remember the patch of snow?
pick axes / mattocks work for bad desert soils and partly frozen ground…

The only severe cold wave of the winter hit during this project in early December…it was 0-5F several mornings! Usually one low like that in mid-winter is more typical, but at least this was it – then about the mildest winter in a decade!

If you follow my past projects, they usually go in during the hottest or coldest weather. Just bad luck.

second day ends, time to drive over the river…nice sunset with brakelights…
…hanging out at a client’s house to catch up over wine, cheese and lamb…then back to the hotel, to do a field adjustment on the ponding area irrigation, drip to rotary…
last day on the install, some larger rock remains for the water harvesting inlets / outlets….
…my first time working with them, and I’ve never worked with a more professional contractor on a commercial job…that’s all they do, public and commercial projects…
it’s amazing how many utilities and constraints a restaurant and landscape have to work around…and it’s cold, only 40F at noon…
but I’m “headed down, to Old El Paso”…photo from the first afternoon, but I like how when it does rain, each depressed planting area will absorb some of that runoff for better growth…inlets to capture it, outlets downhill to allow excess to overflow, so “static pressure” against curbing that causes damage is minimized.

A partial plant list (* = native):
Trees, Skyline Accents –
*Desert Willow / Chilopsis linearis ‘Bubba’, Chaste Tree / Vitex agnus-castus, *Valley or Rio Grande Cottonwood / Populus wislizenii (basin only), *Coyote Willow / Salix exigua (basin only), Chinese Pistache / Pistacia chinensis, Faxon or Palm Yucca / Yucca faxoniana
Shrubs, Vines –
Evergreen Silverberry / Eleagnus pungens, *Turpentine Bush / Ericameria laricifolia, Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ / Yellow Lady Banks Rose
Accents –
*Red Yucca / Hesperaloe parviflora (‘Brakelights” wasn’t available, which I especially wanted for the smaller spaces in front…), *Blue Sotol or Desert Spoon / Dasylirion wheeleri, *Parry’s Agave / Agave parryi
Groundcovers, Perennials –
Paleleaf Yucca / Yucca pallida, *Globemallow / Sphaeralcea spp., Deergrass / Muhlenbergia rigens, *Purple Muhly / M. rigida ‘Nashville’, Trailing Germander / Teucrium chamaedrys ‘Prostratum’, *Yerba Mansa / Anemopsis californica (basin only)


4 Replies to “New Project Going In – Pizza!”

  1. No winterization of irrigation systems in Abq? Looks damn cold in the pics.

    Smart looping back on a lateral with your micro irrigation. Contractors here like to run Netafim or 1/4″ lines for hundreds of feet from a single source and then puzzle over how a single kink killed off half the plants.

    Not done in Abq, the contractors I’ve worked with assure me there’s no problem…just auto drains at low points in each zone. Most 24 hour periods spend far more time over 32F than under it, days usually in the low 50’s. Ground freezes very little, and rarely below 6″ depth. But in 2011, 85 straight hours below 32F – Abq natives shocked some roses died back to near ground level – maybe some irrigation damage that year?

    In Santa Fe and mountain areas, they do winterize, though.

    Glad a friend taught me that looping trick, whether using PVC or all poly…


  2. I agree that the inlet/outlet is a good idea. Hold on to some of that rain water, for a while.
    We need an El Nino year. This old drought is taking its toll. And, the big rain bomb we got in October here (15″ in 6 hours), was below the lakes. So, no help.
    Your design looks like a good one. Going back and look at those plant names, again.

    Exactly, because that bomb ran downhill fast, not soaking in much. We’ll hope! Here at least we have the monsoon season after July 4…maybe. Thanks, I need to do more lists!


  3. Much to consider here – I very much like your inlet and outlet approach to curbing – it makes a great deal of sense though is rarely utilized here in Central Texas. If El Nino does shape up as predicted – your spaces will be ready!

    Yes, the anatomy of a landscape install! El Nino – I hope so, and those plantings will be:-)


  4. Great post! I’ll have to go over it agin to soak it all up. I do appreciate your explaining HOG again, I’d forgotten and couldn’t come up with anything that made sense!

    Thx! The HOG declines as fun increases, and nothing’s more fun than crazy desert plants…


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