Creation of a Desert Alpine Garden in Texas

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Manfroni
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Joined: 2011-06-02

Oh, I forgot... Today I received the weed fabric!!!! 1,350 square feet! However, tomorrow I have an exam at the university and I was unable to work at the house much. Plus we need to finish the pond plumbing before we can lay the fabric. Maybe Todd will have completed the job this afternoon by himself (I hope so!!! ahah) so we can go ahead and order the gravel and sand from the quarry and spread them this weekend and next week!

I made another topic in this forum about the type of soil to be used for desert rock gardens. I decided we would just use coarse concrete sand, and we will use limestone simply as mulch. I would like to have a last confirmation about this soil, just because I want to avoid having buyer's remorse syndrome! ahah! Here in Dallas TX yearly rainfall reaches 38 inches. This is a lot of water, and I felt like I have no other choice but avoiding to use even a pound of organic matter. The problem with Dallas is that it does not rain too often, but when it does, it's the universal deluge. Among all these uncertainties, one thing is for sure: "[glow=red,2,300]the more sandstone boulders, the merrier!!![/glow]"

Rino, zone 7/8a Dallas TX, rainfall 38 inch or 1 meter per year (highest rainfall in May with 5.29in/134mm, March with 4.34in/110mm and October with 4.21in/107mm), mild winters with 1-2 days of snow (Record low -1F/-18C) and hot, semi-humid summers (Reco

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Wow, 38 inches per year is 14 more than I get in Minnesota!  I never would have guessed.
  But we have it spread out more evenly.

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

Back "home" in Oslo, Norway we had about 38inches/year but where I live now we have 71inches/year.  The 3 wettest months we get 38 inches.
And the draining system contains water continually ;)

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Manfroni
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Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-06-02

The house is still a complete work in progress! From bathroom re-do, through interior and exterior painting, new plumbing, and of course up to the front yard landscaping!

Our house has become a huge work zone! They came with the first loads of gravel and rocks!!! Here they are:

This is 1/2" limestone gravel that we used to cover up all the drainage trenches (and I will also use the leftover to mulch the plants when they will be finally planted!

And these are "Rip-Rap" limestone stones that we are going to use on the edges of the yard to make sure that the next load of 1-1/2" gravel will not wash away to the street or the walkway.

The other two little mounds are the gravels I will use to make the water feature in the front yard. It is pea gravel for filling the pond and Colorado river rocks to cover the top of the pond and make it look nice.

Here is what I have done so far (by the way, those rip rap rocks are wayyyy heavy!!! I lost 10 pounds moving them around! I had to leave some edges open because other truckloads are about to come in the future. Beside that, I am still contemplating whether I want to put the edging stones on the side of the street because they would not allow the cars parked by the curb to open the passenger seat without having to accidentally hit the stones...

And this is the water feature. This picture is from a few days ago. I worked really hard today on it until dark, and for this reason I wasn't able to take a picture of what I have done so far... But probably tomorrow I will post an update!!!

And you know what? It is true that everything is bigger in Texas, even the wasps! This one is called "Cicada Killer" and about 10 of these kept harassing me all day long! They are scary!!!!

Rino, zone 7/8a Dallas TX, rainfall 38 inch or 1 meter per year (highest rainfall in May with 5.29in/134mm, March with 4.34in/110mm and October with 4.21in/107mm), mild winters with 1-2 days of snow (Record low -1F/-18C) and hot, semi-humid summers (Reco

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Whew, I'm exhausted just looking at the size of those rocks!  It's really shaping up, Rino!

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

I'm glad you though about other people open car doors on the street.  Few people would have the forethought.  You might also want to think about what the snowplower would... nevermind ;D 

On a separate note: with the rain pattern you have of getting deluged with water when you get it, does anyone ever make rain gardens down there?  It's become the garden in vogue at the moment up here.  Put simply, a rain garden is a low area that temporarily catches natural water runoff so it can seep into the ground naturally and replenish ground moisture, rather than going into the storm sewer.  It is planted with appropriate perennials (usually).

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Manfroni
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Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-06-02

I have never heard of a rain garden, but it sounds like a good idea... at least in theory... I wonder what kind of plants I could grow that withstand a lot of rain one day in the Spring followed by 100F heat the day after here in Texas! Then they will also have to be tough enough to go through the entire Summer with little or no rain, crazy high temperatures, and lots of humidity!

Rino, zone 7/8a Dallas TX, rainfall 38 inch or 1 meter per year (highest rainfall in May with 5.29in/134mm, March with 4.34in/110mm and October with 4.21in/107mm), mild winters with 1-2 days of snow (Record low -1F/-18C) and hot, semi-humid summers (Reco

Manfroni
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Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-06-02

Today I have been working on the water feature!!!!

I finally made it to set up the first stone... it was VERY heavy!!! It's the one at the left of the "Stonehenge-looking" rocks. I made that "stonehenge" by glueing those rocks together with mortar and its function is to create a cave where I can get access to the pump and the plumbing in the future.

And this is how it looked like just a few hours ago before it became too dark and I called it a day

The way this water feature works is the same way that a pondless fountain works. I filled the pond with gravel that I meticulously washed and rewashed, and rewashed, and rewashed with a power wash hose before throwing it inside. The pump is located in a garbage can (LOL) that I cut at the bottom to let water in. After the pump was placed in the right spot, I connected PVC pipes to the pump to create the water stream up to the fountain heads. The fountain also includes a little plastic tray that brings in water from the main house line. The inflow of water into the pond is controlled by a floater valve that keeps the water at the right level constantly--sort of like a toilet water tank works!

Thanks to this system, now I am able to place very heavy boulders on top of the pond without having to worry about breaking the plastic liner. The gravel keeps the liner strong in place and already pressed up into the ground. One note of the wise... make sure you use pea gravel, because it is round-shaped and it does not poke the liner with sharp angles!

Rino, zone 7/8a Dallas TX, rainfall 38 inch or 1 meter per year (highest rainfall in May with 5.29in/134mm, March with 4.34in/110mm and October with 4.21in/107mm), mild winters with 1-2 days of snow (Record low -1F/-18C) and hot, semi-humid summers (Reco

Manfroni
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Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-06-02

This is how the house looked like this morning! It's starting to get rocky!!!!

I also really wanted to show this funny thing. My parents house in Rimini, Italy just seems to look incredibly similar to the house we have in Texas!!! Even my parents were stunned when they saw this picture!

Rino, zone 7/8a Dallas TX, rainfall 38 inch or 1 meter per year (highest rainfall in May with 5.29in/134mm, March with 4.34in/110mm and October with 4.21in/107mm), mild winters with 1-2 days of snow (Record low -1F/-18C) and hot, semi-humid summers (Reco

Manfroni
Manfroni's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-06-02

Today we ordered 10 cubic yards of soil, 10,000 pounds of sandstone boulders, one ton of smaller boulders, andanother ton of flagstones. They will deliver the first load with the dirt tomorrow... Here is the problem however. When I went to the quarry and I explained both Todd and the clerk at the quarry that I need only concrete sand for the berm, they almost thought that I was stupid. The clerk even said that it does not make sense that I use limestone gravel as mulch for the plants. At the end of the day, they convinced me to buy their "mixed soil" for my berm. The clerk said he has a xeric garden and he used that soil with great results. He grows agaves, barrel cactus, and other xeric plants. This soil is much cheaper than concrete sand, so I don't,believe the clerk was after trying to rip dollars out of my pocket. This mixed soil is made of a "mix of topsoil, compost and sand. I hope it will have the drainage that I need for my plants.

Work in the yard continues tomorrow!

Rino, zone 7/8a Dallas TX, rainfall 38 inch or 1 meter per year (highest rainfall in May with 5.29in/134mm, March with 4.34in/110mm and October with 4.21in/107mm), mild winters with 1-2 days of snow (Record low -1F/-18C) and hot, semi-humid summers (Reco

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