The summer months are getting hotter and hotter in Northern California with increased risk of fire and smoke from the lack of proper management from the California Bureau of land management, which is obviously very inefficient (as evidenced from the record setting fires from the past 5 years).
This makes landscaping and fence building very difficult, and sometimes completely impossible because of hazardous smoke conditions. However, I was able to finish a few more fences before the fire season got under way with the record setting Dixie fire (the second largest in California’s history).
Finished Fences before Fire Season
I have been getting more skilled at decorative fencing and have gotten a lot more tools in my belt (including a chop-saw, a table saw, and a paint sprayer) since I first started doing big fences at the beginning of the year. I typically remove all old concrete and prefer new construction rather than repair. Dealing with other individuals work is typically very difficult as people tend to cut corners when constructing fences. I am very proud of all the work I have done and I think my customers are very satisfied with the level of quality and of service that I provide. I also paint now as you can see below!
The bottom 4 pictures are of a cattle fence repair that I did out in the hillsides. The customer wanted to save money (which I never recommend with construction because you get what you pay for) so I did my best to find less expensive wood and keep the costs down. Overall I think it turned out great!
After 3 months of Grinding in the heat, my back was in bad shape.
So I took some time off landscaping to refocus on my yoga practice. It was an excellent start to the year, but now its time to wind down and enjoy all of the progress that I’ve made this year and to get more efficient with my business!
My yoga practice has progressed a lot recently, I’ve restarted my work on the primary series and will be offering a new workshop on September 4th for the Yoga Chikitsa. I am also starting a new Hot Yoga class in Auburn today, at 7pm. I’m really looking forward to it!
This year has centered me around replacing fences in the area due to the major storm damage that insurance companies categorized as catastrophic. Thanks so much insurance companies! I have already finished 2 brand new fences and am actively working on the third and am bidding on lots of projects including smaller fences and some big landscaping projects. 2021 is looking fantastic so far!
The First Fence of 2021
My first fence of the year was a recommendation from another client. Though I didn’t get to use my “go-to” steel posts, I did get to paint a fence for the first time, which was really cool and fun with a paint sprayer! Painting and staining is a lot of hard work with one. The fence came out very straight considering I had to deepen many of the holes by 6-10 inches to ensure that the posts were two feet in the ground.
Overall, I am very satisfied with the result and so is the client. I did two cans of paint and used some really nice redwood materials. This was about 65ft of fence that turned into 80ft once the owner saw the work we were doing out there 😀
The Second Fence of 2021
The second fence was a recommendation through yoga, which is just such a great way to connect with people that are likeminded about nature, durability, and quality. My client wanted more privacy and needed her whole fence redone which ended up being about 200 feet of fencing.
This time I got to use steel posts and kicker boards to bring the fence up an extra foot for more privacy from the neighbor’s yard. I was lucky enough to find a fence board supplier during the massive shortage that California is currently experiencing.
I will be adding a latch to the bottom of the gate and am also hoping to stain the entire fence to help to optimize the lifespan of the boards. The client was so happy that she agreed to do a testimonial, so I will add that to the site as well as a post getting into more details about the project.
Moving Forward in 2021
I am already in the middle of my next fence project and am always looking for more work. So far this year has been very steady for work and I just want to keep that going. I also enjoy learning and working with unique situations so I am very excited for the potential of some of this years projects. Here are some progress photos from the job I am working on now that is right on the border with Folsom Lake.
This year I have gotten some excellent opportunities to work in the Sacramento area. My projects are happening from Antelope to Auburn with lots of work in Roseville, Rocklin, Lincoln, and other places in Placer County.
I’ve been extremely lucky to have great customers that appreciate the level of quality, durability, and value that I can create in a project.
My projects can fit into 3 major categories:
Most of my other work revolves around create an appropriate habitat for plants so that they can thrive. Plants are well suited to all environments, and sometimes it takes a bit of experimentation to get plants that work in tandem.
I am enjoying creating xeriscapes and using more drought tolerant plants; I am also learning to special the plants for different areas. Auburn is slightly different than Antelope, or even Rocklin, so the optimal plants are slightly different also.
2. Water: Irrigation/Drainage
Drainage is essential for the health of plants, especially drought tolerant and Xeriscape oriented plants. Sometimes, you can get away with superficial drainage, or non-subterranean drainage, by creating a creek bed in the landscape to create a path for water through the yard. Below, you can see a creek bed xeriscape I created in Antelope, CA:
3. Masonry, Carpentry, and Outdoor Structures
I have also been working very hard to learn masonry and mortar setting rock and brick. Masonry is really fun for me because I love to create long lasting work.
One of my most recently completed projects was a black slate patio in Roseville. This took me a couple of weeks of work with concrete that was already set. I did rough up the concrete a lot to ensure that the mortar had as much traction as possible and washed the rock with muriatic acid at the end. Check out the video!
I have also included some photos of my other projects. Enjoy!
It was about this time last year that I decided to take on my first big solo job. I’ve been working hard this year to get the equipment that I need to be in business. I owe a huge thanks to Dave Thomas for believing in me, helping me, and teaching me what he knows about landscaping. He helped me huge on my first few projects (one was in Granite Bay) and has taught me so much about making durable, high quality outdoor construction products.
Jamie and Joe Bryant’s Yard Before Photos
Jamie and Joe Bryant’s Yard After Photos
I have learned a lot in the past year about landscaping and have gotten the chance to build my arsenal of tools to be able to take on large scale projects. I now have a great, reliable truck that I use to haul materials and I’d also like to get a dump trailer to increase my hauling capacity.
But the journey hasn’t been easy. At the beginning of the year when I first got the truck I burned up the clutch from not knowing how to drive a manual, which was very costly. But over the course of the last year I’ve gotten a lot better at driving the truck and am now completely proficient at shifting and driving in traffic up hills and all that. Here’s a pic on the right of them hauling my truck away after I burnt up the clutch. She’s running great again, I’ve just started to use the 4 wheel drive in the snow!
Learning how to plan and estimate yards
Since the beginning of my time in landscaping I have loved designing yard for depth and color. I am starting to get very proficient at laying out plants for future growth and want to continue to learn about companion planting and how plants like to grow in groups and with diversity. I am far better at finding the grade of the ground, planning drainage, and creating proper water flow for erosion control.
Drainage, Drainage, and more Drainage
It seems like every new job that I do requires large amounts of drainage. Other landscapers skip on this step and most homeowners don’t know about it, but drainage is an essential part of maintaining health soil for your plants. Heathy soil drains water, meaning that water does not accumulate, pool, stand, and gather bacteria that can kill plant roots. This is especially important for desert and mountain landscapes that see heavy downpours during the winter.
Working for T & M in Meadow Vista
Dave and I worked great together, but I also love to work alone and have been hard at work creating a useable backyard for a client up in meadow vista. I have finished a few portions of the job and things are looking great! Here are the major features:
3 Ft Pressure Treated Retaining Wall
Benda Board Grass Area
Posts for Blackberry Trellis
Sod Fresh from Seed
1 ft Retaining Wall for sod
New Mountain Steps with drainage and DG fill
New Patio Area for fire pit replaced river rocks with decomposed granite
Brick and Mortar Border with concrete footing for decomposed granite patio
New Fire Pit with Custom Flagstone cap, wet look finish
For the first few weeks of the job, I had to focus on something completely different than what you see above. It was actually extremely messy for the vast majority of the project and only in the last few days was I able to start getting everything really clean again.
When I begin working on a new project, I focus on one thing; the water.
This is how the Earth moves and shapes itself. It is therefore the primary component of land/property management and outdoor construction. It always amazes me how little people know about erosion and grading, but it is the primary component of maintaining any kind of healthy landscape. Standing water kills plants, just as easily as not watering plants at all.
Drainage is essential for landscaping. Any type of hardscape (cement, stone, brick) requires it and honestly it should be considered whenever any type of construction is being planned.
The Meadow Vista job was a great chance to work on my knowledge and to start planning from end to end of a job. The drains will keep the hillside from erosion and will maintain the grade that I create for the grass area, patio, and retaining wall that I built. I am really happy about how it has turned out so far, and my clients want a lot more work done!
Working with Dave Thomas has afforded me some awesome opportunities
Again, shout out to Dave; he is a very skilled worker. Working for him has taught me a lot because of the diversity of work that he takes on, from fencing to sod installations to full yard tear-outs and re-installs.
Here are some of the categories of Dave’s jobs that I got to work on:
Grass Alternative Lawn Installations
High Quality Fencing Replacements
Retaining Walls (wood and stone)
Light Masonry (I am working on my first stone wall)
Benda board installations
Brick and Mortar walkway bordering
Small Tree Removal
So I really do owe Dave a huge thanks, he taught me a ton! Its pretty obvious when you see high quality work and Dave is consistently getting work done. Thanks again.
Concluding a Year of Hard Work
I am very happy with how all of my projects this year have turned out. I typically continue to work on yards after installs (I don’t mow grass, but I do trim trees, bushes and hedges!) on maintenance, repairs, etc. I have gotten pretty good at installing irrigation manifolds and timers! Next year I will be focusing on water efficiency for xeriscapes, more masonry and carpentry production, and I am really hoping to get into more metal working (though who knows if this will pan out). I currently am working on a big rock wall and will post some pictures as soon as I feel like its pretty enough 🙂
Thanks for reading! If you are interesting in getting me to come out and look at work, I do bids for free.
I’ve recently finished a few projects that I am proud of and I have an awesome mentor that is showing me how to do all sorts of incredible things with outdoor construction, landscapes, planting, cleaning up yards, taking down trees, etc. I’m getting into great position to generally setting people’s yards and property up for success and durable function.
I have ‘Partnered Up’ with Dave Thomas
I have a mentor and partner who is working with me on all of my projects and ensuring that I can be successful in the things that I am endeavoring. Dave Thomas will be working with me on my projects for the foreseeable future and that makes me stoked. I am working on his website now, get ready to view a catalogue of his 12+ years of landscaping projects.
New Truck, New Tools
I am investing the best tools I can get my hands on which includes an old 91 Dodge D250 thats only two years younger than I am. I can’t believe I’ll be 30 tomorrow, yikes!
I have a few recent projects that I am very proud of and plan on doing a bunch more this year. I’ve gotten very familiar with outdoor construction and am looking forward to learning as much as I can. I have pretty much all the tools that I need to landscape, so feel free to get into contact with me if you have a project, or want an estimate.
Finishing the Spiro’s Yard in Late 2018
Last year I got to install a front-yard on the borderline of granite bay and Roseville and it turned out great! Here are a few pictures of the walkway, patio, creekbed and plants that we installed. I’m really happy with how everything turned out and their new walkway is awesome! First project with mortar set flagstone 😀
Jamie and Joe Bryant’s Yard in Old Roseville
At the end of last year and beginning of this year, I endeavored into a new project, this time a full backyard install complete with fencing, a new front gate, two new side gates, two larger planters, a garden fences, a trellis, and a completely new drain system, irrigation, and plant layout. Here’s how it turned out! (I’ll do a more comprehensive post on this yard later, it was a ton of work and a lot of it isn’t shown here.)
Jody Summer’s Yard in Old Roseville
A couple of weeks ago, we finished Jody Summer’s yard in old Roseville and it went swimmingly! it was a total of 5 days and we removed a on of concrete from an old sidewalk, got rid of 4 or 5 tree stumps, stump ground the remains, tilled the area for sod and reconfigured the irrigation (including adding a new timer and a dedicated drip valve. We designed an entirely new plant layout, constructed a brand new decomposed granite entry walkway, new sod, bark, and a little wildflower area down by the street (also covered in bark).
Tree Work in Berryessa and ForestHill Ranch
I got a chance to use my chainsaw a bunch on some bigger trees, its really a terrifying thing to be cutting huge sections off of multi-ton trees that could squash me at any second. I got a chance to work with my buddy Alex who is a tree expert and got to see him do some incredible climbing and John who is more of a ranching expert, but also knows a lot about trees and climbing. Tree work is dangerous as hell, man.
Onto More Projects in 2019!
Right now, Dave and I are working on a Tonnos off Greenback in Orangevale. I’m pretty excited for this one and will have some pics once everything is finished. I got to use a ditch witch for the first time! I also am employing a drone now, so my photos will be way better soon and I am going to start using more video footage. I’m looking forward to this next year of landscaping work in a big way!