Chapter 9 Water, edging, lighting, and other site amenities.
The choices for your site accents, or amenities, can be overwhelming. Any item has the potential to add to the design scheme of a residence. And for each item that can be used as an amenity, there are typically many choices of materials, colors, forms, and textures. Selecting the amenities that will perfectly enhance the look of your site will require many hours of searching and evaluation. As with all other aspects of landscape construction, the time and effort you invest in planning and preparation will profoundly impact the attractiveness of your site.
PLANNING FOR SITE AMENITIES
Whether installing your amenities requires only setup or extensive utility lines and foundations, the key to success is anticipating how the amenity will function during all seasons, all conditions, and at various times of day. Without planning, your dreams of an amenity-enhanced site can be dashed because the size, configuration, or appearance are not appropriate to the site and the intended use.
The placement of site amenities should accent the landscape and, if possible, address functional needs. Items such as stairs and lighting may be located where they improve access to the landscape, whereas pools and edging may be placed solely for aesthetic reasons. Consider the requirements of your amenity when selecting a site. Pools will require a flat area, whereas water cascades work best with a moderate slope. Steps should be placed where they help you effectively traverse slopes, and seating will require a level location. Lighting and edging can be placed in a variety of slope conditions and situations.
Legal issues may also enter into the planning and placement of a site accent. Check with local officials for any rules regarding the installation of pools and water features. Any site amenity that requires the use of utilities will fall under the jurisdiction of building codes and possibly zoning and other municipal regulations, in order to protect public health and safety.
Several amenities require access to utilities to be successful. If you plan an installation that requires electricity, such as a pump or lighting, be certain you have eliminated the risk of shock. If your project requires the installation of an electrical circuit, obtain assistance from a professional. Circuits for all exterior work should be GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupt) protected. GFCI circuits are designed to shut off electrical power to the circuit when voltage fluctuations from short circuits are sensed.
* When working with electricity in any form, high or low voltage, there is the danger of electrical shock. If you are not familiar with electricity, hire a licensed electrician to do this work. Many communities and locations require that all wiring by done by a licensed electrician, even if the homeowner is knowledgeable about electricity.
* Installing water features will require access to a water supply. Some low-volume features may be initially filled using a hose from a nearby hydrant or faucet, with the water level occasionally replenished from the same source. Large water installations, those in warm climates, and features that need the water periodically changed may require that a water-supply line be run to the installation. If you will need a water line extended to your feature, have the installation completed by a licensed plumber prior to beginning your work.
In climates that face cold temperatures, you will also need to consider protecting your water supply from freezing. Burial to frost depth will be required, as will installation of freeze-proof valves and insulating components that are above the frost line. Plan how you will drain a feature before its installation, either via a pump or by installing a drain. Water removed from the feature will have to be disposed of in a manner that does not damage the site or flood the neighborhood.
* Any water feature that is directly connected to a potable water line must have a backflow prevention valve installed between the feature and the water source to prevent contamination of the water supply. Check with local building officials regarding regulations on the placement of such a valve.
* If you fill a pool or fountain with a hose, never leave the hose end under the surface of the water; this could result in the siphoning of the water back into the municipal water supply, which could contaminate it.
Foundations for Amenities
Many amenities can be set directly on finish grade with minimal preparation of a base. In some cases, it may be sufficient to install a granular material as support for your feature. In others, pouring a concrete slab or setting precast concrete blocks may be required, to provide the necessary support and stability needed for seating and other permanent amenities.
Whether your design relies on reflections in a pool or the sound and motion of a fountain, water features can add interesting dynamics to the landscape. New construction materials have made the introduction of water into the landscape a feasible undertaking. Traditionally, landscapes have relied on construction using concrete-lined pools with underground plumbing. Although this construction technique is still used, the introduction of flexible-pool liners, small pumps, and plastic tubing has made introducing water features into the residential domain much easier.
Although today's technology has allowed for water features to be easily implemented in landscapes, they nevertheless require high maintenance. In all climates, you must make a commitment to regulate water quality, and in some climates, pools will require periodic draining if the feature is to stay attractive and functional.
Pools are water reservoirs with little or no moving water. Pools can be constructed using either flexible vinyl liners, which allow you to determine size and shape, or with rigid liners that have a set form and size. To hide the liner, the edge of the pool is covered with coping-that is, flat pieces of stone or a similar material. When considering both the initial installation and the long-term maintenance of a pool, you should spend ample time planning the installation. Using either your own creativity or the assistance of a designer you can create a water feature that will compliment any design. You can enhance the appearance of your pool with landscaping around the edges or by submersing aquatic plants in the pool. You can further enhance it by adding boulders at locations around the edge or on a shelf in the pool. Placing the pool where it catches a water cascade or adding a fountain will add motion to your creation.
Flexible-liner installations will be suitable for anyone who plans to significantly vary the shape and depths of their pool, but such liners require more effort in fitting the liner to shape of the basin. Rigid liners are available in many shapes that readily fit a prepared excavation, but the designer cannot change the dimensions of the liner that is purchased. Whichever liner type you plan to use, the entire perimeter must be perfectly level. Variations in grade around the perimeter will cause water to drain out of the pool at the low points and expose the liner on the high side. Both liners types are reasonably durable and, with proper installation, should last for many years.
Installing a flexible-liner pool Note: The shape, size, and depth of the pool you construct can be altered from the plan shown in this project. If you do alter the design, however, be certain that the liner you purchase is large enough for the pool. CAUTION * Verify the location of utility lines before construction. * Follow the manufacturer's instructions when using equipment. * Use caution when cutting and installing materials. Time: 6 hours to 2 days, based on the complexity of the pool. Level: Challenging (13 steps. Digging and heavy lifting required. Tools Needed: 1. Plan for pool installation. 2. Marking paint. 3. Round-nosed shovel. 4. Square-nosed shovel. 5. Carpenter's level. 6. Straight 2 x 4 the same length as your pool width. 7. Brick hammer. 8. Rubber mallet. 9. Sponge. 10. Garden hose(s). 11. Wheelbarrow 12. Location for disposing of excavated soil. Materials Needed: 1. Flexible liner. To determine the proper size of the liner use the following formulas. * Liner length in feet: L + 2D + 4 where L = pool length at the rim and D = pool depth. * Liner width in feet: W + 2D + 4 where W = pool width at the rim and D = pool depth. * For irregularly shaped pools, measure the length, width, and depth using maximum possible dimensions. 2. 3 CF sand (more for large pools) to even the interior of the pool excavation. 3. Enough coping to circle the entire perimeter of the pool. Pieces of flat, square stone or precast concrete at least 2" thick and 12" wide and long make the best coping material. 4. Water to fill the pool. This may require running a hose from a remote location or installing a permanent water-supply line. Directions: 1. Review the location of your pool on the plan. 2. Using the paint, mark the location of the pool basin on the ground (Figure 9-1, Step A). 3. Excavate the pool basin to proper depth. Steep sidewalls work best for flexible-liner installations. If different depth levels within the pool are desired, adjust the excavation where these "shelves" should occur (Figures 9-1, Step B, and Figure 9-2). 4. Excavate a ledge for coping around the entire perimeter of the basin. The edge should be the same thickness and slightly narrower than the material you have selected for coping. It is critical to the success of the installation that the entire perimeter be level. Verify the ledge is level along the entire perimeter (Figure 9-1, Step C). Adjust grade if necessary. Level across the pool can be checked by placing a straight 2 x 4 on edge across the pool and setting a carpenter's level on top. 5. Irregularities in bottom of basin walls can be corrected by filling low areas with wet sand. 6. Lay out the liner and check for proper dimensions (Figure 9-1, Step D). 7. Center liner over basin opening and push liner into basin (Figure 9-1, Step E). Stepping into the pool may assist in positioning the liner (Figure 9-3); if you do, however, take care that you don't tear the liner. Adding a few inches of water to the pool at this point will also assist in forming the liner to the bottom of the excavation. 8. Adjust the liner to cover entire basin and fit it snugly over any shelves and the coping ledge. Smooth as many wrinkles from the basin as possible. 9. Verify again that the coping edge is level around the entire perimeter. Adjust if necessary. 10. Fold any excess liner back under the pool at the coping ledge. This will provide additional liner in the event adjustments are necessary (Figure 9-1, Step F). 11. Place coping on the coping ledge. The coping should overhang the edge 2-3". This overhang will hide the corner of the pool and the top part of the liner (Figure 9-1, Step G, and Figure 9-4). Coping may need to be shaped using the stone hammer. Use a rubber mallet to fit pieces. 12. Clean the inside of the pool with water and a sponge (Figure 9-1, Step H). 13. Fill the pool to within 2" of the bottom of the coping. [FIGURE 9-1 OMITTED] [FIGURE 9-2 OMITTED] [FIGURE 9-3 OMITTED] [FIGURE 9-4 OMITTED] Installing a rigid-liner pool CAUTION * Verify the location of utility lines before beginning construction. Time: 6 hours to 2 days; varies based on the complexity of the pool. Level: Challenging (10 steps). Digging and heavy lifting required. Tools Needed: 1. Plan for pool installation. 2. Marking paint. 3. Round-nosed shovel. 4. Square-nosed shovel. 5. Carpenter's level. 6. Stone hammer. 7. Rubber mallet. 8. Straight 2 x 4 the same length as your pool width. 9. Sponge. 10. Garden hose(s). 11. Water. 12. Wheelbarrow 13. Location for disposing of excavated soil. Materials Needed: 1. Rigid pool liner. 2. 3 CF of sand (more for large pools) to even the interior of the pool excavation. 3. Enough coping to circle the entire perimeter of the pool. Pieces of square, flat material at least 2" thick and 12" wide and long make the best coping material. 4. Water to fill the pool. This may require running a hose from a remote location or installing a permanent water line. Directions: 1. Review the location of the pool on your plan. 2. Using the paint, mark the location for the pool basin. Trace a paper outline of the pool if necessary to get a precise location of the basic shape and size (Figure 9-5, Step A). 3. Excavate the pool basin to the proper depth. Sidewall angles should match the angles on the pool (Figure 9-5, Step B). 4. Excavate a ledge for coping around the entire perimeter of the basin. The edge should be the same thickness and slightly narrower than the material you have selected for coping. It is critical to the success of the installation that the entire perimeter be level. Verify that the ledge is level along the entire perimeter. To check the level across the pool, set a straight 2 x 4 on edge and place a carpenter's level on top. Adjust grade if necessary (Figure 9-5, Step Q. 5. Irregularities in the bottom or sides of basin walls can be corrected by filling holes with wet sand. 6. Lower the liner into basin to check for fit. The pool liner should fit snugly into the basin excavation and the top of the liner should match the coping ledge. If adjustments are required, remove the liner and make them (Figure 9-5, Step D). 7. Verify again that the coping edge is level around the entire perimeter. Adjust if necessary. 8. Place the coping on the coping ledge. Let the coping hang over the edge 2-3". This will hide the corner of the pool and top of the liner (Figure 9-5, Step E). If necessary, use the stone hammer to shape the stone. 9. Clean the inside the pool with water and a sponge. 10. Fill the pool to within 2" of the bottom of the coping. [FIGURE 9-5 OMITTED]
Fountains are pumps with special orifices that project water upward out of a reservoir. Depending on the size of the pump and the type of orifice, water may project a few feet into the air or simply bubble to the surface. Different types of fountains can be combined and lighting added for special effects. Fountains are typically set just below the surface of the water in a pool to hide their mechanical components. Electrical connections run from the fountain to the edge of the pool, where it can be threaded through the coping and into a source of electricity.
Installing a pool fountain CAUTION * Use caution when working with electricity. Only equipment approved for water locations should be used in a pool. * All circuits should be turned off when installing and checking fixtures. * Circuits must be ground fault (GFCI) circuits. * Do not operate a submersible fountain unless it is under water. Time: 2-4 hours. Level: Easy (8 steps. Note: You must have a water feature in which to place your fountain. Tools Needed: 1. Electrical cord. Materials Needed: 1. Submersible fountain. 2. Desired orifice (choices will include bubblers, sprayers, and streamers. Some fountains have a nozzle built into the fountain. 3. Stone or block of various sizes. 4. GFCI electrical source for fountain operation. Directions: 1. Review the manufacturer's instructions for the correct depth at which the fountain should be set. 2. Drain the water from the pool to a depth that allows you to wade into the pool to work; take care not to tear the liner with your shoes or tools. 3. Stack stone or block in a stable arrangement on the bottom of the pool to a height that will position the fountain at the correct depth. The fountain may also be set on a shelf that was excavated during pool installation. 4. Set the fountain on the stack or shelf (Figure 9-6). 5. Route the power cord for the fountain to the edge of the pool, between or under pieces of coping, and out to a GFCI outlet or to power cord connected to a GFCI outlet. The cord should be routed so it is hidden from view. No electrical connections should be made in wet areas. 6. Refill the pool to the maximum level. 7. Plug in and test the fountain. 8. Unplug the electrical cord and correct any problems with the fountain or orifice. [FIGURE 9-6 OMITTED]
A cascade is water that gently flows from a higher elevation to a lower elevation, providing the sight and sounds of running water. A shallow channel, lined with a strip of flexible pool liner topped with stone or gravel, confines the water as it flows between elevations. To recirculate, a pool or reservoir at the bottom of the cascade catches water and a pump returns it to the top of the cascade (Figure 9-7). Cascades work best on shallow slopes blended into the existing landscape with boulders and plantings. You can greatly enhance the appearance of a cascade by adding low voltage waterproof lighting to highlight the water movement at key locations along the cascade.
[FIGURE 9-7 OMITTED]
Installing a stone-lined cascade Time: 4 hours to 2 days for a cascade approximately 10 feet long. Level: Moderate (8 steps). Digging and heavy lifting required. Note: For the cascade to function properly, you must provide a water supply and a water-collection point. A pool may serve as the collection point, with a submersible recirculating pump providing the continuous supply of water. CAUTION * Verify the locations of all utility lines before beginning construction. * Use caution when working with electricity. * All circuits should be turned off when installing and checking fixtures. * Circuits must be ground-fault-interrupt (GFCI) circuits. * Do not operate a submersible fountain unless it is under water. Tools Needed: 1. Plan for project. 2. Marking paint. 3. 25' tape measure. 4. Round-nosed shovel. 5. Wheelbarrow 6. Carpenter's level. 7. Utility knife. 8. Caulking gun. 9. Screwdriver. Materials Needed: 1. Flexible pool-liner material. To calculate the amount required measure the length of the channel. You will need a strip of liner that is 4' wide and the length of the channel. You can overlap multiple strips to create the liner, their length depending on the length of the cascade and the number of changes in direction. 2. Stone for lining and edging the cascade. To determine the amount of stone required, purchase approximately six 12" x 12" pieces for each LF of channel. Smaller stone and washed gravel will also aid in decorating the channel. 3. 1 tube of clear silicon caulking. 4. 1 submersible pump and enough tubing to run from the pump to the top of the cascade plus 10'. Directions: 1. Review the location for the cascade on the plan. 2. Using the paint, mark the location of the cascade channel on the ground. The channel may follow any alignment desired, as long as the proper cross-section and downward slope are maintained. 3. Excavate an 8" deep by 14" wide trench along the entire route of the channel, maintaining a consistent slope from top to bottom. Angle the edges of the channel upwards to confine the water within the channel. 4. Waterproof the channel by cutting a linear strip of flexible liner material and placing it in the excavated channel. If splices need to be made or corners must be turned, overlap two pieces of liner approximately 1 foot, placing the upper section on top of the lower section. Where the cascade reaches the lower collection pool, let the liner drape over the pool edge. Lay a bead of silicon caulking where the liners overlap to reduce leaking and wicking (water being drawn up between surfaces. 5. Place stone lining in the channel, beginning at the bottom. The bottom piece should overhang the collection point by 2-3". Stones should be placed firmly on the bottom of the channel, level side to side, and with a slight tilt towards the downhill side of the channel. 6. Place the submersible pump in the collection pool. Route the recirculating water line along the side of the cascade to the top. 7. Fill the collection reservoir and test the pump to verify that the cascade is working properly. If the volume is inadequate, install larger or multiple pumps and recirculating lines to increase the water flow. 8. Treat the edges by stacking stone pieces 2 to 3 high along the edge of the channel. Let the edge stones overlap the channel bottom stones. Careful placement of plant material can hide wiring, tubing, and other rough edges of the cascade installation (Figure 9-8). Do not crush or crimp the recirculation tubing when placing edge treatment. [FIGURE 9-8 OMITTED]
Edging is one of the most versatile, yet subtle, materials in the landscape. Edging can be used to define areas, hold pavement in place, and separate turf from planting beds. Edging materials range from plastic to stone, and installation for most is as simple as excavating a shallow trench and placing the material. Most edging is purchased as either individual units placed one at a time or long strips staked into the ground. Although installing individual-unit edging requires more time, it results in a more aesthetically appealing feature, whereas strip edgings provide the necessary separation in a short amount of time. Almost all edging types can be shaped to match any line required in the landscape.
A simple edge that conforms to any shape and requires little special preparation is the natural edge. Created by cutting a vertical trench with a shovel, natural edges isolate the planting bed from the lawn without a manufactured separator. However, as turf encroaches into the planting bed natural edging will require periodic maintenance to keep them defined.
Natural edging Time: 1 hour for every 20' of edging required Level: Easy (4 steps. Digging required. Tools Needed: 1. Plan for the project. 2. Marking paint. 3. Trenching shovel. 4. Wheelbarrow Directions: 1. Identify the location of the edging on the plan. 2. Using the paint, mark the entire alignment of the edging on the ground (Figure 9-9). 3. Along the entire alignment, excavate a shallow trench approximately 4-6" deep. The lawn side edge of the trench should be excavated with a vertical edge, whereas the planting-bed side of the trench should be excavated at a 45[degrees] angle (Figure 9-10). 4. Fill the planting bed with mulch to within 1" of the top of the trench. [FIGURE 9-9 OMITTED] [FIGURE 9-10 OMITTED]
One of the most commonly used edging materials is black plastic manufactured in rolls and long strips. This edging is flat and flexible, so that it can be bent to very tight radii, is held in place with metal stakes, and has only the rounded bead on top visible above the ground after installation. Offsetting its ease of installation is plastic's reputation as unattractive. You may also discover additional shortcomings of plastic edging when your mowing equipment damages the material and frost pushes the edging up.
Installing plastic edging CAUTION Use caution when cutting edging. Time: 2 hours for every 20 feet of edging required. Level: Easy (11 steps. Digging required. Tools Needed: 1. Plan for the project. 2. Marking paint. 3. 25' tape measure. 4. Trenching shovel. 5. Wheelbarrow 6. Claw hammer. 7. Tin snips. 8. Hacksaw. Materials Needed: 1. Coils or strips of edging. To calculate the amount of edging needed, measure the length of the edging on the plan, and order 10 percent more. If using coils, straighten the edging by unrolling the coils and weighting the ends. 2. Edging stakes, 1 for every 2 LF of edger. 3. Joining tubes. 4. 2 8d galvanized box nails for every 10 LF of edger. Directions: 1. Identify the location of the edging on the plan. 2. Using the paint, mark the entire alignment of the edging. 3. Along the entire alignment, excavate a shallow trench approximately 1" deeper than the width of the edging. Excavate the lawn side of the trench with a vertical edge and the planting-bed side at a 45[degrees] angle. 4. Place a length of the edging flat against the vertical side of the trench. If the edging has a fold of plastic, or a V-shaped channel, place the fold or channel toward the planting bed side of trench. 5. Hold the top of the edging, usually the rounded bead, at the top of trench. 6. Place an edging stake in the V channel at the bottom of the edging and use a hammer to drive the stake through the edging into the subgrade. Verify that the top of the edging is still at the top of the trench (Figure 9-11). 7. Continue driving edging stakes every 2 feet along the length of the edging. 8. Bend the plastic edging around any corners. To prevent the edging from buckling when turning tight corners, cut 2" slits up from the bottom every 6". 9. Join pieces of edging by cutting 6" of the rounded bead off the top of one end of an edging piece. Insert a joining tube halfway into the rounded bead of that piece of edging. Overlap the flat sections of the first and second pieces of edging and slide them together (Figure 9-12). Slide the remaining half of the joining tube into the rounded bead on the other piece of edging. Drive an 8d nail through the flat portion of the overlapped pieces. 10. If smaller pieces of edging are required, measure and cut them with a hacksaw or tin snips (Figure 9-13). 11. Backfill and compact the soil along the planting bed side of the edging. [FIGURE 9-11 OMITTED] [FIGURE 9-12 OMITTED] [FIGURE 9-13 OMITTED]
Bender board provides a decay-resistant wood edging that is flexible enough to be installed around corners. Constructed of overlapping layers of thin wood that slide past each other when bent, bender board provides an effective and durable method for edging plantings and paving.
Wall stone or flagstone can be arranged to provide you with an appealing and highly visible edging for planting beds. Using stone will require site preparation somewhat different than needed for other edging materials and will be costlier than most but is relatively more attractive and lower in maintenance.
Installing bender-board edging CAUTION Use caution when cutting edging. Time: 2 hours for every 20' of edging required. Level: Easy (10 steps. Digging required. Tools Needed: 1. Plan for the project. 2. Marking paint. 3. 25' tape measure. 4. Trenching shovel. 5. Wheelbarrow, 6. Two-pound sledge. 7. Claw hammer. 8. Carpenter's saw. Materials Needed: 1. Strips of edging. To calculate the amount of edging needed, measure the length of the edging on the plan. Order 10 percent more. 2. 10 16d nails for each 10' of edger. 3. Treated 2" x 2" x 12" long wood stakes. Directions: 1. Identify the location of the edging on the plan. 2. Using the paint, mark the entire alignment of the edging on the ground. 3. Along the entire alignment, excavate a shallow trench approximately 1" deeper than the vertical dimension of the edging. Excavate the lawn side of the trench with a vertical edge the planting bed side of the trench at a 45[degrees] degree angle. 4. Place a length of the edging flat against the vertical side of the trench. Bend the edging to match the shape of the vertical side. 5. Hold the top of the edging at the top of trench. 6. Place a stake next to the edging and use the sledge to drive the stake into the subgrade. The top of the stake should be driven 1" below the top of the edging. Verify that the top of the edging is still at the top of the trench (Figure 9-14). 7. Install a nail through the stake into the edging to hold the edging in position. 8. Continue driving edging stakes every 4' along the length of the edging. 9. If smaller pieces of edging are required, measure and cut them with a carpenter's saw. Be certain to cut only after the edging has been bent to the desired curvature, because bending will alter the length required. 10. Backfill and compact the soil along the planting-bed side of the edging. [FIGURE 9-14 OMITTED] Installing flat-stone edging CAUTION Use caution when shaping stone and cutting the weed barrier. Time: 2-3 hours for every 20' of edging required. Level: Easy (9 steps. Digging required. Tools Needed: 1. Plan for project. 2. Marking paint. 3. Square-nosed shovel. 4. Wheelbarrow 5. Brick hammer. 6. Scissors or utility knife. Materials Needed: 1. Pieces of flat stone approximately 2" thick and 12" in the longest horizontal dimension. To calculate the amount of edging needed, measure the length of the edging on the plan. Order 10 percent more. 2. Optional: weed barrier cut into 12" wide strips. Weed barrier is fabric woven from plastic or heavy exterior fibers designed to prevent weeds from growing through the barrier. Directions: 1. Identify the location of the edging on the plan. 2. Using the paint, mark the entire alignment of the edging on the ground. 3. Along the entire alignment, excavate a shallow trench 14" wide, approximately 2" deep on the lawn side, and sloped up at a 30[degrees] angle toward the planting bed. 4. Smooth the surface of the trench. 5. If weed protection is desired, place the weed barrier along the length of the sloped trench. 6. Set a piece of stone in the trench with the straightest edge along the lawn side. Shape with stone hammer if necessary (Figure 9-15). 7. Place a second piece of stone adjacent to the first. Select a piece that fits the edge shape as tightly as possible, shaping if necessary. The edge forming on the planting-bed side can be irregular (Figure 9-16). 8. Continue placing stones until the entire bed has been edged. 9. On the planting-bed side, add mulch to the top of the edging covering the weed barrier. [FIGURE 9-15 OMITTED] [FIGURE 9-16 OMITTED]
Vertical Brick Edging
Vertically oriented bricks can be used for edging paved surfaces or formal planting areas. Stood on end, on edge, or laid flat, the bricks introduce earthy textures and colors into the design that can be used to match a paving or building material. Brick edging is more expensive and labor intensive than other types of edging, but the aesthetic appeal may be worth the investment.
Installing vertical brick edging Time: 2-3 hours for every 20 feet of edging required. Level: Easy (6 steps. Digging required. Tools Needed: 1. Plan of the project. 2. Marking paint. 3. 25' tape measure. 4. Trenching shovel. 5. Square-nosed shovel. 6. Wheelbarrow 7. Hand trowel. Materials Needed: 1. Enough bricks to complete the edging. To calculate the number of bricks, needed, measure the length of edging to be installed. Multiply that number by 6 to obtain the approximate number of bricks required (six bricks, set on edge, per linear foot. 2. 1 CF of sand for every 10 LF of edging. Directions: 1. Using the paint, mark the alignment for the edging on the ground. 2. Excavate an 8" deep by 6" wide trench along the entire alignment of the edging with the trenching shovel. Shape the trench using the square-nosed shovel. The trench must form a vertical edge along both sides of the trench. The bottom of the trench should be as level as possible. 3. Place 2" of sand along the bottom of the entire trench. 4. Place bricks vertically in the trench with the shortest dimension along the outside edge. Each brick should set flush against the previous brick (Figure 9-17). 5. Add or remove sand with the hand trowel to adjust the height of the bricks so that each is flush with adjacent bricks. 6. Immediately backfill and compact the soil along the edging. [FIGURE 9-17 OMITTED]
DC (DIRECT CURRENT) LIGHTING
Exterior low-voltage electrical systems are used primarily for powering your decorative lighting. Spotlights, stair lights, low-level walk lights, and uplights or downlights in plant material are examples of applications for direct-current lighting. DC electrical systems require an AC outlet to provide power. Typical AC sources are 110 volt outlets located in garages, basements, or exterior locations. You will need to locate an outlet in a weatherproof location where a transformer can be placed. It is necessary to select an outlet that is a ground-fault-circuit-interrupt (GFCI) circuit.
Most transformers are designed so that you can mount them on a post or wall with a grounded plug for an outlet. The transformer converts the AC current to DC current, so that it is usable by the low-voltage system. A low-voltage electrical cable plugs into the transformer and must be fed to the locations where lights are located. If the transformer is inside, the cable will need to be fed through an opening in a wall. Some DC lighting systems have controllers that turn on lights at dusk or allow the user to control the times at which the systems turns on and off. These controllers may be built into the transformer or installed as separate units placed along the cable. Either method requires that the controllers be located where the owner-and sunlight, in the case of photocells-can gain access to the equipment. This may require transformers with built-in controllers to be located outside a structure and the cord that connects them to the AC outlet fed through the wall to the outlet.
Installation of basic DC lighting systems varies slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer, but the steps required for system assembly are similar.
Installing a direct-current (DC) lighting system CAUTION * Locate all utility lines before beginning construction. * Use caution when working with electricity. Verify that electrical circuits have been turned off before working on lighting system. * Exterior lighting systems should be connected only to groundfault-circuit-interrupt (GFCI) circuits. * Follow the manufacturer's instructions for all lighting installations. Time: 2 hours for a five-light system. Transformer installation may require additional time. Level: Moderate (15 steps. Tools Needed: 1. Plan for the lighting. 2. Wire cutters. 3. Standard and phillips head screwdrivers. 4. Drill (cordless operation or electric. 5. 1" and 1.5" wood spade drill bits. 6. Claw hammer. Materials Needed: 1. Caulking. 2. Connection to a GFCI 110 volt AC power source. 3. Pre-manufactured DC lighting kit containing the following items: * Transformer that can be plugged into a GFCI 110 volt AC-current outlet. * Cable. * Light units. * The kit may also have various controllers (timers, photocells, and so one and additional light fixtures. Directions: Steps for installing DC lighting (Note: Instructions may vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer. Adjust the following steps to conform to the instructions supplied with your lighting kit.): 1. Place the light fixtures in the desired locations. 2. Locate your AC power source. Power source must be a 110V ground-fault-protected (GFCI) duplex outlet. 3. Mount the transformer near the selected outlet. If the AC power source is inside a house or garage, you may need to drill a hole through a wall and feed either the lighting cable or the power cord that connects to the AC outlet through the hole to reach the transformer. Before drilling any hole, verify that there are no structural, electrical, or other critical building components that you may inadvertently drill through. When finished, caulk or plug the hole with insulation or steel wool, which will prevent insects, rodents, and water from entering the cable hole. Fasten the cable to a nearby stud with a wire staple, taking care that the staple points are outside the insulation on the cable, so that they won't cause a short by coming into contact with the wire that carries the electricity. 4. Connect the controller to the transformer if it is a separate unit. Both should be placed where they will be easily accessible. If you have a controller with a photocell that turns lights on after dark and off during daylight, you will need to mount the photocell in an exterior location. 5. Lay the cable to the location of each fixture and connect fixtures as directed in the following steps. 6. Insert bulb into lamp base socket (Figure 9-18). 7. Attach the lens to the lamp base. Lenses will snap (bayonet mount) or twist (screw mount) into the base (Figure 9-19). 8. Run a loop of cable through the mounting-stem bracket (Figure 9-20). 9. Connect the lamp base to the cable by pressing the cable onto the metal prongs projecting from the lamp base. These prongs puncture the cable and make contact with each conductor in the wire. One metal prong must make contact with the wire inside each side of cable. Use care not to bend the prongs (Figure 9-21). 10. Attach a threaded cap that will hold the cable in place (Figure 9-22). 11. Slide the mounting stem bracket into place over the threaded cap (Figure 9-23). 12. Insert the mounting stem into the mounting step bracket (Figure 9-24). 13. Gently push the fixture into the ground (Figure 9-25). 14. Plug the cable into the transformer, and then plug the transformer into the GFCI outlet. 15. Test the system. Ground-level lights may have the stem and fixture in a single unit, allowing you to connect the light and insert the mounting stem into the ground in a single operation. Mounted lights, however, may require that the fixture be snapped or bolted to a base, which is then mounted on a wall. [FIGURE 9-18 OMITTED] [FIGURE 9-19 OMITTED] [FIGURE 9-20 OMITTED] [FIGURE 9-21 OMITTED] [FIGURE 9-22 OMITTED] [FIGURE 9-23 OMITTED] [FIGURE 9-24 OMITTED] [FIGURE 9-25 OMITTED]
The landscape will occasionally present situations in which a slope needs to be navigated using stairs. If the slope is steep (more than 3' of fall over 10' of horizontal distance) you should consider building a retaining wall with incorporated stairs. When the slope is gradual (less than the 3' of fall over 10') free-standing stairs can be constructed without the benefit of retaining walls.
[FIGURE 9-26 OMITTED]
For free-standing stairs, large slab like materials can be stacked overlapping the edge of the higher slab on the lower one. If this design is used, the slab serves as both a riser (the vertical portion of the step) and a tread (the horizontal portion of the step. Each step takes the user a few inches higher up or down the slope. Materials that might be used for this type of step include precast concrete, large flat stones, or other materials with the thickness and large dimensions needed to create safe steps. Materials that have slightly rough surfaces when used as stairs, because they provide better traction, reducing the likelihood of a fall by someone walking up or down them (Figure 9-26).
Building free-standing stairs with stacked slab material CAUTION Select stair material carefully. The thickness of the material will form the risers for the stairs and should be no less than 6" and no more than 9" thick. The flat portion of the material will form the treads and should be no less than 18" front to back to allow 6" of overlap and expose a minimum 12" tread. The entire stair should be at least 24" wide for safety, and a nonslip surface will be the safest. Time: 2-4 hours for 5 stairs. Level: Moderate (6 steps. Heavy lifting involved. Tools Needed: 1. Plan for the project. 2. Marking paint. 3. Round-nosed shovel. 4. Square-nosed shovel. 5. Wheelbarrow 6. Carpenter's level. 7. Pry bar. Materials Needed: 1. Large stepping stones, approximately 18" rectangle or 24" diameter round and 6"-9" thick. All material selected should be of a consistent dimension, especially thickness. 2. Angular 1" crushed stone. Approximately 1 CF for each stair planned. Directions: 1. Use the paint to mark the location for each step on the ground. If the slope is too steep to go up in a straight line, add more steps and lay out a winding or curved alignment. 2. Excavate any sod or ground cover in the location where the steps are to be built. 3. Use the square-nosed shovel to level the area for the steps. 4. Place the lowest stepping stone and level it side to side. The stone should have a very slight slope to the front to allow for water runoff. To adjust the level of the stone, lift it using the pry bar and place a small amount of the angular 1" crushed stone under the low edge. The pry bar can also be used to adjust the placement of the stone (Figure 9-27). 5. Position the second stepping stone with the front edge resting on the back edge of the lower stone. Level the stone side to side, and ensure that it has a slight slope from back to front. 6. Repeat this placement for each stone to the top of the slope. [FIGURE 9-27 OMITTED]
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|Publication:||Plan It, Dig It, Build It! Your Step-By-Step Guide to Landscape Projects|
|Article Type:||Professional standards|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2003|
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