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Landscaping Utilities

Putting in the landscaping utilities is not really a phase, but it was distinct enough to create a page for it.  Before I start on the BBQ and deck, I have one last chance to lay down any kind of utility PVC piping in the area where the deck with go.  I decided to draw out everything I wanted to do just to make sure I didn't forget anything.  This is what I came up with.

Here is what I want to do:

  1. Water Main (Blue) - I tapped off the water main in the front of the house and ran it to the back for three reasons: a) to connect it to the auto-water leveler to keep the pool filled and 2) to feed the utility sink in the BBQ island 3) to run across to various places in the yard to feed hard-water spigots in those places.

  2. Drip Irrigation System (Red) - this is for all the plants that will surround the pool.  Most of it will be behind the pool near the property line.  I'll also have a few shrubs near the deck pads near the patio and maybe a few scattered at the far end of the pool and near the BBQ.

  3. Planter Drip Irrigation System (Green) - I plan on building a few planters using concrete block a little later and wanted to make sure I had the watering system in place for that when I get to it.

  4. Cable Conduit (Brown) - I wanted to run some 1" PVC under the deck so that I could pull miscellaneous wires through later on without having to go around the deck.  In the case of the BBQ end of the pool, going around the deck is not even a possibility.  The main cabling I plan on pulling through are low-voltage line for the landscaping lights, CAT5 Ethernet cable for DSL broadband access, and speaker wire.



Saturday, October 5, 2002 - 11:20am


Finally, I actually found something that I could do myself (I wouldn't trust myself with anything else!).  I've done a lot of landscaping PVC work before so I was confident that I could make at least one feeble contribution to the pool project and call it my own.  Besides, the plumber wanted to charge me an extra $100 to run 3/4" PVC from the main at the front of the house and hook it up to the auto-water leveler.  I said thanks but no thanks and ran down to my local Home Depot to pick up an assortment of 3/4" SCH 40 PVC supplies.  I bought about ten 10ft sections of 3/4" SCH 40 PVC, an assortment of 3/4" couplers, Tees, and 90 degree elbows.  I also picked up a 3/4" Ball Valve to be able to shut down the supply to the auto-water leveler in case I needed to do some servicing.  However, my main concern on this Saturday was to run PVC through the area where the deck was going to get poured.  I wanted to make sure all this was in place before the deck guys came through.  In the drawing at the beginning of this page, you can see that I want to lay down PVC in the area near the spa that goes straight back towards the rear wall then angles off to the right towards the waterfall.  There would be three 3/4" pipes there: 1) one for the main, 2) one for the drip system, and 3) one for the future planter drip system.

I started off by going to the front of the yard and digging up the PVC that I had capped off almost 2 years earlier.  When I did the front yard landscaping, I had installed an Irritrol 6 station controller and a valve box that contained 4 electronic valves.  One valve controlled the drip system for the front yard, and the other three were for the back (side yard planter, main backyard drip system, and opposite side yard planter).  In the picture to the left, you can see the three PVCs for the back drip system still partially buried.  The one sticking up is the main. This was the only one that really needed to be capped off since it was pressurized.

I needed to direct this to the back to feed the auto-water leveler.  As I sat there thinking about how to run it, I noticed that the trench for the gas line was not quite filled in.  I thought about using that for a moment, but then I realized that ultimately a sidewalk would run right through there.  I didn't want the hassles of having to trying to get access to PVC under a sidewalk if I ever needed to get to it.  I decided to run it along the side of the property line, but that would mean some heavy hand trenching.  I was in no mood to do trenching, so I decided to leave it be for the moment and focus on laying the PVC that would go under the deck.  In the picture above to the right and to the immediate right, you can see the PVC that I laid near the spa area and near the equipment.  I had three pipes running by the spa: one for the main, and the other two for drip systems (main drip and future planter drip).  That's about all I had time to get accomplished today.

Since the decking subs were still a ways off, I decided I was going to finish up the landscaping utility piping while (or after) the BBQ sub did his work.  It wasn't important to get it all done now, as long as it was done before the decking guys poured the concrete.  Besides, its Saturday - time for some College Football !!


<- Gas Pipes - Day Two - Back                Next - BBQ Island ->


Saturday, October 26, 2002 - 11:25am
Man - its been about three weeks since I last worked on the landscaping utilities.  Chalk it up to laziness.  It seems like I'm always finding something better to do on a Saturday.  Well, on this Saturday, there's no more fooling around.  The Deck forms just got finished yesterday and the Decking subs are coming next week to pour the concrete.  Fortunately, since the Gas sub can't come until Tuesday, I had to put off the concrete work until Wednesday.  That gives me a couple of extra days to finish up these pipes and to pressure test the ones that will sit under the deck.  Should there be any leaks, I have a couple of days to get them repaired.  My main goals today are to:

  1. Finally hook up the main water line to the auto-water leveler and check for leaks.

  2. Hook up the main water line to the rest of the PVC that would be under the deck to pressure test it before Wednesday.  The rest of the drip PVC I wasn't as concerned about since all the valves for them are at the front of the house and the pipes back here would not be under pressure unless they were turned on (maybe 15 minutes a day or so).  The main, however, would be under 80psi -90psi 24x7 so it was important to insure there were no leaks there - especially since it would be under the deck.  Having water under there would be deadly as far as expansive soil goes.

You can see the PVC work I did in the next series of pictures.  The one one the left shows two PVC sections: one for the drip system (I plan on putting a nice palm tree between the BBQ and the bench seats), and one as a cable conduit.  The cable sleeve is a 1" PVC section (less that SCH40) that I made sure cleared both edges of the forms.  For now, all I plan on running to that area is the low-voltage wire for the landscaping lights, but I could use it later to pull CAT5 or speaker wire through.  The second picture shows three sections of PVC (one is slightly buried) coming from the equipment area.  This would be the main plus two drip lines.  You will also notice a 1" PVC running from the spa form to the form next to the house.  This is a cabling sleeve to be able to pull CAT5 wire through for an Ethernet port that I hid behind a rock near the spa.  Its also for the low-voltage lighting wire.  The last picture is another view of the cabling sleeve and the PVC for the drip line near the BBQ.


You may be wondering why I plan on running CAT5 Ethernet cabling back to the pool when Wi-Fi (802.11 Wireless) technology is so readily available?  I read an article about a guy who had problems with getting hooked up via his Access Point because all the stainless steel from his appliances in his house was causing the signal to be attenuated dramatically.  I also have a lot of stainless steel in the kitchen and its a direct line of sight from where I would put an AP to where I would be using the wireless laptop.  I didn't want to take any chances with signal loss due to this problem, so in covering all my bases, I decided to run wire for networking.  Besides, this would also allow me to set up an 802.11 AP right on the deck somewhere and allow many laptop users to connect to the Internet from anywhere on the deck.  Having the AP outside would eliminate any distance and signal degradation issues.

Oh yeah, almost forgot.  I actually hired a couple of guys to do some digging for me today.  When the decking subs were here yesterday (Friday) putting up the forms, one of the other things they did was dig holes for the Pier System.  Well the Pier System called for 8" holes that were 16" deep and 3 ft apart.  What the decking guys did yesterday was dig holes about 6" wide and 12" deep.  When I got resistance from them about digging it to the 16" specification, I called up Wayne to confirm that the holes were supposed to be this wide and deep.  He confirmed it.  I handed the phone to the foreman and he agreed to make the holes wider and deeper.  By the time they were wrapping up the hole digging on Friday, they again started to make things smaller and shallower.  He said that they need to hurry things up because they had another job to do today and if they take so much time to dig these holes, they would be in danger of getting fired.  I wasn't impressed with that excuse, but for some reason, I decided not to push it.  As I sat there on Friday night after the decking guys had left, I thought, "You know, I have one chance to do this right.  I have to live with the results."  Instead of fighting for the crew to come back, I just hired a couple of guys to dig out each hole wider and deeper.  You can see them hard at work below.  I didn't realize how hard the work was to dig out the holes.  They were there from 8:30am to 2:30pm and I don't think they got through all the holes that needed to be dug out.  So far, I think the Pier System work that the decking subs did was the most disappointing.


While my helpers were busy digging holes, I decided to add another PVC pipe to the set of PVC that was already running under the BBQ for the utility sink.  I was thinking that I might install an Ethernet port inside the BBQ island and be able to plug in a laptop computer if I was cooking out there or something.  Hey!  you never know.  I might want to look up a grilling recipe on the Internet or something when I'm out there.  Anyways, I dug out a little more of the dirt under the BBQ and  ran a small 1" PVC section under it next to the other sink PVC pipes.  That way, I'll be ready to pull some Ethernet cable through to the inside of the BBQ later on when I need to.


One of the first things I had one of the guys do when they arrived was dig a nice straight trench from the front of the house to the back near the equipment area.  I needed a nice 6" deep trench to run the main water line PVC from the capped off water line in the front to the auto-water leveler and the main lines running under the decking.  I wanted this done today so that I would be able to allow the pipes to sit under full house pressure (80psi - 90psi)  for at a few days.  This would allow me to do any repair work necessary before the deck concrete was poured.  Once the trench was done, I proceeded to cut the cap off the main water line PVC out in front, glue on a couple of 3/4" elbows, then start running 3/4" SCH40 PVC piping towards the back.  You can see how far the 3/4" piping had to run in order to get from the front yard to the back, near the equipment area.  It was about a 75ft run in all.  One problem was that the decking guys used the area near the equipment as a dumping ground for all the dirt that they cleared away from the area where the deck was going.  I should have insisted that they move it elsewhere in the yard.  I felt for the guy who was digging a trench for me.  The poor guy had to just about move the entire pile of dirt away from the wall before he could even get to the trenching part.  It worked out well though.  It took me only about 1/2 hour to run the pipe all the way back to the equipment where I still needed to do some hookups.

While I was working back there, the neighbor's cat, Pumpkin, came cruising through to see what all the commotion was.  I swear, this cat is like the friendliest, most amorous cat in the world.  He has no fear of humans at all.  He'll come up to complete strangers to see what's going on.  I see him frequently chasing after kids on bicycles on their way to school in the morning to see what's up.  I've found him locked in my garage so many times, I've lost count.  At least three times, I've found him in or on my car, and once I drove halfway down the street heading to work in the morning before realizing that he was in the back seat.  He's cool though.  I love having him around.


Hehe, sorry for going off on a tangent, but I love cats.  Anyways, I ran the main line PVC all the way back to the equipment where I then tee'ed it off.  You can see that in the first picture below on the left.  One section went to the auto-water leveler.  I put a ball-valve there so that I could have another point of control before it.  You can see it in the picture.  I also reconnected the pressure stack assembly.  I thought it would be handy to have an extra spigot there for emergencies and its nice to be able to see what the pressure is on the main.  The other side of the Tee ran in front of the equipment and made its way to the PVC piping that was to run under the decking near the spa.  After hooking it all together and giving it half an hour to dry, I turned the water on from the main valve in front and held my breath.  Great!  I checked for leaks all along the full length but found none.  After that was done, I ran the other two PVC lines for the drip systems along the same path through the equipment and had them also head towards the spa area.  And that was that.  I had accomplished what I had set out to do today.  The rest was just gravy.


Here's a picture of the outlet I buried into the ground near one of the boulders near the spa.  It will be used to house the Ethernet Jack I plan to run out to the spa area.  Its tucked away just behind the boulder that frames the little +6 step area that leads up to the raised spa area.  I picked up some gray PVC that was rated for above/below ground usage.  I ran a small straight section of gray PVC from the edge of the form about 6" below grade and connected it to an elbow section that came straight up toward the junction box.  The box itself sat 6" - 8" above the ground.  From there I screwed on a waterproof  electrical junction box and taped the whole thing to the boulder with duct tape.  I made sure the gray PVC in the ground ran toward the edge of the form and came out beyond it.  Later after the deck is poured, I'll just fish the CAT5 wire through that opening and up into the junction box where I can install the RJ-45 jack and screw it into the housing.  I also picked up the nice waterproof cover for the junction box that will fit nicely over the box and RJ-45 jack.

As I started to make my way back to the house, I noticed that the pipe for the Aerator was just sticking up from the ground in the path where they were going to pour the concrete.  I also noticed that the skimmer chamber was still taped up with duct tape.  I began wondering who was going to put the elbow on the Aerator pipe and re-direct it towards the pool.  I was told by the plumber that the aerator was going to come out in between the deck and the bond beam.  Also, who was going to extend the skimmer hole up past the 4" deck thickness?  The next day I got on the phone with both the plumber and the decking sub and found out that the decking sub is responsible for taking care of all these details on the second day when they pour the concrete.  Again, it just amazes me how well integrated pool subs are.  For the most part, I have not had to tell the subs much of anything.  They just know what to do and it works like a very well oiled machine.  I was now ready for the the decking subs to come through to pour the concrete.



<- Decking Forms - Day One - Back            Next - Gas - Valves/Hookups ->

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