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!
Lately, I have been consumed by starting a landscaping business, too busy to make music or work on my website. I started this new landscaping business and am working now as a designer landscaper in Sacramento. It’s hard work, but certainly pays the bills in a way that I don’t think yoga ever could. The only rich yogis that I’ve ever met are the Jois’ and they have an incredibly tightly run business in Mysore, India.
Landscaping is my Future
I love yoga and I might love making music even more. I am continuing to teach indefinitely, but as I said in my last article, I do have to scale back my yoga teaching from 8 times a week to 5. Teaching 5 yoga classes every week will still give me the opportunity to improve my teaching while doing a full time landscaping gig.
Creation is the Priority
I’ve always loved making stuff. These new planter beds that I have built in old Roseville are some of the coolest I’ve ever seen. I am learning how to create high quality, long lasting landscapes. Learning is my priority and I’ve gotten good at using concrete and also at working with dirt and grading, plants, drains, and the whole process of putting together a nice backyard. But I also bought a guitar recently and have started playing, learning chords, and am going to start learning some songs soon. Even though I am busy, I am busy doing stuff that I love so I always have more energy! Until its time to fall asleep.
The Cost of Artistry
Honestly, life has been completely exhausting lately. I fell asleep at 9:30 on New Years. I had a couple beers, but man I can’t party worth a shit anymore! But I guess thats a good thing! I like waking up early anyways, so heading off to work at 5 or 6 isn’t a big deal at all. Only I have a really hard time staying up later, which is pretty weird for me. I’ve had mild insomnia for as long as I can remember. My New Years resolution is to work on staying up later, so I can have more social fun time! Also, to play a few shows in 2019, something I didn’t get a chance to do in 2018.
Finding Balance between Passions
My yoga practice has actually been revitalized in a big way by landscaping. I need it to take care of my joints and relax my muscles which get overworked on the daily from using power tools and you know, repetitive pounding motions. I think I have found a trifecta of things to do that I love!
Looking Forward to 2019
Expect more landscapes, different mediums of sharing my art and blog articles in 2019! Apologies for not writing in a while, but I’m excited to continue blogging. See you on the yoga mat…
Sometimes, I want to just focus on one thing, but I seem to live within three split worlds. I’m almost always working. Teaching yoga isn’t lucrative enough to focus on completely, landscaping isn’t really a sustainable profession outside of my 20s and 30s, nor is it very lucrative, and music actually doesn’t make me money at all yet, though someday soon I hope it does. I want to play live (and am almost ready to), which is where all of the money is!
My music is starting to get hot. Check back in soon for updates on what I’m making for y’all.
Expressing Elliot’s Art
My focus is on creating the type of art that I appreciate, love, and feel. Honestly, its not worth it if I don’t appreciate what I’m doing, the process will become unsustainable, which in work is the name of the game. I love making music and teaching yoga, and landscaping, but get torn between the three as I try to grow.
My yoga teaching has certainly improved drastically over the past couple of years. I try to bring my own style into the art as much as possible to express what I have inside of me and share. This is true of teaching yoga, writing, composing, sound design, this blog, making music videos, etc. I am trying to express myself! It is extraordinarily time consuming to do all these things in my own way because I have to literally develop the style from scratch! And I get pretty hard on myself sometimes. And then when I’m not feeling it, I have to go back to the drawing board and completely rethink what the hell I am doing! It’s crazy how much effort I am putting into this stuff!
I am constantly working to create something that no one has ever done before. It’s part of why I am making my own visual for music and why I want to DJ and teach yoga at the same time. My sounds are all my own, next to the library professional drum and synth samples that I have collected and analyzed over the last 3 years, and I am slowly collecting all of the top-of-the-line software that I am learning to use optimally within my productions. Yoga is something that has always been very personal to me, so learning how to develop my style of teaching is also really helping me to develop my style of ddm production.
I finally have my instrument and am in the process of learning how to use it in sync with my computer to create the kind of beats that I have been making in the last 3 years.
Yoga is really cool because it doesn’t require equipment at all. If the state of California weren’t a bunch of money grubbing bastards, I could start an entire business in a public park. No wonder that state wants a piece of yoga.
Landscaping is actually a lot like music in this regard. Good equipment helps to get the job done exponentially faster and with higher quality in the finished product. Plus, power tools are so much fun to use!
No time for Wasting
Tons of my new songs are very very close to ready for release. Yesterday I spent the day getting organized and designing sounds. I’m getting close to the majority of tracks from the album. Most of them are fully structured, but the chord progressions and melodies all need work. I will release the album progressively as it helps people to digest the tracks (I honestly should re-release some of the tracks from 0, I feel like they are under-appreciated).
Yoga teaching is going phenomenally, though it always has its rough patches. I am really getting into my own flow and style and it is simply awesome to see that dream begin to form into reality. People are starting to get my message as I become more fluent in communicating it. Honestly, there are few things in this world as rewarding as communicating with and assisting other people in achieving what they want.
Landscaping is also going great, I have completely landscaped my mom’s backyard in Auburn. I am working on a multi-leveled trenching permaculture system to bring water to plants as it flows. I’ll do a post about the garden soon, once fall starts to hit. Landscaping makes decent money on the side of yoga and I get to spend time outside, so it works out great.
Conclusions of Split Worlds
Lots of the time, I wish I could just make music full time. I love contrasting melodies against basses and synthesizing sounds that I’ve never heard before and turning them into fat beats. Teaching yoga is such an important part of clearing my mind to create. I honestly couldn’t imagine one without the other. My main jobs are like the yin-yang, countering each other. Landscaping kind of sits between the two.
Anyways, here’s to the end of July! On 9/1 I am going to release my HAZE EP so get stoked. I will release the tracks progressively, as usual. I’ve also just finished a collab, and it is a very cool track. Be on the look-out from some live streams and yoga youtube tutorials, hoping to start them soon!