Sunday, October 12, 2014

A children's wonder garden

We're on a week's holiday in the tropics and Mr Jones is reminded that his favourite technology is the combination of a note pad, a pencil and an eraser (or erasable pen this week).

Here's a sketch of what happens if you've got nothing to do other than sit with your own thoughts and a sketch pad for a few days.  It's a first pass on our version of Mr McGregor's Garden for our (soon to be) two boys.

So what is this jumble of scribbles?

Well as you might remember from previous posts, we've got a odd shaped block (triangle) as a result of a planning decision made back in around 1921.  This poses a lot of constraints but, constraints can also be a great thing to push your creativity.  Indeed if we had a rectangle, we wouldn't have come up with this design for the back corner.

The first thing we did was work out the constraints:

  1. Dimensions 
  2. Infrastructure (the shed, soon to be man cave for Mr Jones), gas meter, fences, access points etc
  3. Shade lines - where will the sun get to at the peak of summer, winter and spring?  Where is the desirable sun to be harnessed and the undesirable sun to be calmed?
  4. Water flow (in our case a mild fall from the front of the block south east to the south west corner)
Then we did a first design to optimise for sun / shade:
  1. Shade for the man cave to the west to avoid it becoming an oven in summer and needing a lot of energy to cool
  2. Garden beds on the south boundary (will get full year's sun, but also summer shade because of the triangle shape)
  3. Other garden beds aligned to fence lines and on shade lines at various times of the year
  4. Flow, zones and hidden "rooms" for the kids to run around and get lost in
  5. Herb beds to insulate the edges of the concrete slab of the man cave
As you can see from the scribbles, and erase marks this plan has been worked and reworked quite a few times now.  Things have been added, deleted, moved around.  And no doubt it will be revised again before finalising.

In fact, here's an updated version that was done just while writing this blog.  Can you spot the differences?

We thought we'd share the process a little in case it sparks any ideas for you at your place.  If you feel inclined, click on some of the "drawings of a madman" for a closer view and see what ideas they spark for you... actually stop reading and do this now.

Yes, now.



We can't wait to get home and start marking out string lines to see it at scale.  And we'll post a few pics so you can see how it's coming together, possibly with some updated sketches.

In the mean time, if anyone's got any experience in applying the principles of wicking garden beds and root-level watering to ordinary domestic lawns, please post a comment below and let us know.  It's something we're keen to have a play with in our hot, dry summary climate.  We start earthworks in around 4-6 weeks.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Big plans

So all of the courses we've done tell us to step back, do a site analysis and think about things like infrastructure, prevailing winds, sun etc before racing in and putting things in the wrong spot etc.

It's spring so we can't stand waiting any more and have got our hands in the dirt.  But to put it all in context we thought we'd share our rough site analysis and rough plans.

Got any great ideas, let us know.  We might just try them out and tell you how they went.

As you can see the site is an odd shape, with buildings in odd spots and covered in an extraordinary number of large eucalypts.  From the main road, you can see our place form nearly a kilometre away because its the one with the outrageous amount of tall tree canopy.  How exciting.

Of course big trees provide challenges and opportunities so we'll be working through those and sharing some of the results.

The plans are evolving, but here's the rough mud map of what we're planning.  This seems to evolve daily, but here it is for now.

Anyway enough of the technical stuff, we'll be back shortly with ideas and experiments.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Water efficient shower heads that give a great shower

One of our definitions of luxury is a great shower.

Mr Jones has been travelling a lot since we moved to Adelaide which means lots of nights in various hotels and some very ordinary showers.

About a month ago we were staying in a hotel and the shower was excellent, somehow misting the water intend of streaming it.  The result seemed to be better soaking and less air between the water jets.   We made a mental note of the shower head (must get one of those one day), but didn't pay close enough attention to brand etc.

This week our shower broke, so we thought we'd find one of these things to replace the shower head.

Off to Bunnings and we came across a thing called a Methven santinjet which looked a bit like it might be the thing we could vaguely remember.  We were surprised and more than a bit happy that the flow rate was 7.5L/min instead of the normal efficient 9.0L/min.  It was about double the price of most of the other ones ($100 instead of $50), but happiness is a great shower so we decided to take a punt.

We're not sure if it was the same one, but we're very happy with it and thought it was blog-worthy.  It's not only great shower, but uses 16% less water, which means you can save water or stay in longer.  Hooray.

This is them.  Ours is the generic looking round one.

We're back

It's been quite a while since we posted anything on here.

We ended up selling the house, moving to a rental in Melbourne, having a baby, moving to a rental in Adelaide and now we're finally home owners again and going through a similar journey with retrofitting an old house - this time a 1920's sandstone bungalow in the heart of suburbia.

We moved in in December and already have done a lot of things to to the house so have plenty to talk about.  We'll post as we get time.