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krlock3 03.04.2017 12:40

Front garden refurbishment questions / ideas
 
1 Attachment(s)
As I have a bit of time on my hands, I'm going to do do a small refurb in my front garden, and turn to the EF experts for guidance on a few open issues, should you wish to help :-)

Heres the plan and questions.

1. Take out the larger gravel part in the middle of the picture (partially soil), and take out and replace the hedge, which will be a pain to get out but I've done it before and am confident I'll get by.

- Depending on how it looks under it, i'll either resoil or regravel with something a little nicer

- The hedge brings privacy from people walking down the street so I want to replace with another hedge (but not cypress leylandii as I have that in the back already) or tree. Any recommendations here on what I might use? I was thinking taxus baccata?


2. For the main path, it is uneven and so I want to take it up, put small gravel under and relay it level.

- I've seen this done here without using a concrete base, but but levelled with smallish gravel underneath, and not using concrete pointing either. Anyone here have experience with that?

- Is it generally possible to find matching stone somewhere in case I want to add to it? Are those kind of paving stones very expensive if I wanted to get new ones? Where do you get them around Zürich, as I didn't see anything very similar in the Jumbo / Bauhaus / hornbach places?


3. At the bottom of the picture, this concrete thing is a bit of an unknown.. I don't know where the manhole goes for example. I'm going to request the original plans for the house to see what it turns up. That whole area does not look pretty and ideally I would break it up and lay the same paving as the walkway but I fear this is too big a job / cost / admin pain for me to do alone or within budget. The crack in it does not seem to be causing any problems.

- Realistically, I cannot do that part without getting someone else in with quite some fuss and cost, so I'll probably just leave that and do it some years down the line.


Your advice appreciated!

Helm 03.04.2017 12:47

Re: Front garden refurbishment questions / ideas
 
I just want to put a few points:

- if you substitute the soil covering, make sure you are allowed to. Some towns have specific rules of percentage of green vs. stone/gravel/pavement, which kind of gravel is allowed (dimension and stone wise), and which kind of pavement is allowed due to percolation.

- Max. height of bushes near the borders are usually very strict, specially towards the street. Sometimes when the thing has been left alone for a few years people don't bat an eye, but when people see work being done, a nasty neighbour might point the finger to the authorities. The type of bush allowed is also usually specified. (you might be able to use thujas, but no bamboo, for example)

- In you want to know where the manhole goes, it might be easier to contact the engineer office responsible for sanitation in your area (just call the Bauamt and ask). Usually moving it is a very costly and possibly impossible task. If it has holes, you shouldn't cover it with a plant pot, for example, as it's possibly the draining system for the area.

krlock3 03.04.2017 12:56

Re: Front garden refurbishment questions / ideas
 
Thanks Helm

Regarding soil and plants, it should be all good. I'm not planning anything groundbreaking and just low shrubs, and many of the houses on the street have similar. I understand that there are rules but I really expect no problems here.

For the manhole, I will call and do that. There are two manholes... the one in the pic and another next to it with holes, which I do not cover nor plan to cover. If I do eventually replace the concrete with paving but both manhole covers need to remain where they are, i'm fine with that. I actually looked in several places for the tool needed to lift manhole covers so that I could take a look at the one without holes... but couldn't find any!

meloncollie 03.04.2017 13:01

Re: Front garden refurbishment questions / ideas
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by krlock3 (Post 2766866)
3. For the main path, it is uneven and so I want to take it up, put small gravel under and relay it level.

- I've seen this done here without using a concrete base, but but levelled with smallish gravel underneath, and not using concrete pointing either. Anyone here have experience with that?

- Is it generally possible to find matching stone somewhere in case I want to add to it? Are those kind of paving stones very expensive if I wanted to get new ones? Where do you get them around Zürich, as I didn't see anything very similar in the Jumbo / Bauhaus / hornbach places?

Our patio is similar. We used grey granite 'wild' pieces, that is, random sizes and shapes but all (pretty much) of the same thickness. The wild pieces are put together as sort of a puzzle.

We first dug out and leveled the area, then laid a ca 20cm (or was it more? I forget...) layer of gravel. IIRC we were advisec that 20 cm (or whatever it was) was necessary to support the weight of the granite and allow for adequate drainage. Placed the granite pieces on top of the gravel layer with a few centemeters space between stones. Filled in the border with a more decorative fine (as in very small) gravel.

We did this rather than concrete because of drainage. A concreted installation would have required a drainage study, possibly more drain piping, certainly endless negotiations with neighbors.

I am happy with the result but for one thing - the small gravel is easily tracked in. But then, most of that tracking is done by my herd o' mutts, YMMV. In any case, I have to top up the fine gravel in between the granite stones each year due to settling. But that's a few minutes' work.

Because we have freeze/thaw issues we used a fairly thick granite.

We got the granite at the local Naturstein quarry, here:
http://www.kuster.biz

Kuster was very helpful, offering practical suggestions to tweak our design that made DIY easier.

Key in our choice was delivery, granite is a lot heavier than I would want to transport in my car.

We have done other smaller projects using a thinner granite, same-ish stone, from Hornbach. Check out their selection - and I think they can arrange for delivery too.

It looks like you might also have the gray Graubundner granite - if so, this is pretty readily sold all over Switzerland.

Good luck with the project - and do post photos of the result!

neddy 03.04.2017 13:02

Re: Front garden refurbishment questions / ideas
 
1 Attachment(s)
You could cover the concrete with caillebotis very easily. That would avoid breaking it up & damaging the manhole.

krlock3 03.04.2017 13:19

Re: Front garden refurbishment questions / ideas
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by meloncollie (Post 2766894)

We first dug out and leveled the area, then laid a ca 20cm (or was it more? I forget...) layer of gravel. IIRC we were advisec that 20 cm (or whatever it was) was necessary to support the weight of the granite and allow for adequate drainage. Placed the granite pieces on top of the gravel layer with a few centemeters space between stones. Filled in the border with a more decorative fine (as in very small) gravel.

We did this rather than concrete because of drainage. A concreted installation would have required a drainage study, possibly more drain piping, certainly endless negotiations with neighbors.

Excellent... that confirms what I thought!

Thanks also for the link to the place you used... I'll check them out for Graubundner granite, though I only want to relay more or less.

Any rough idea what a medium sized piece might cost?

I assume you shaped it yourself when necessary using a stone hammer and chisel?

meloncollie 03.04.2017 13:41

Re: Front garden refurbishment questions / ideas
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by krlock3 (Post 2766910)

I assume you shaped it yourself when necessary using a stone hammer and chisel?

Oh good lord, no! That would be far, far beyond our skills. Or tools. Or back strength.

In fact, we hired a crane and back hoe guy to lift the pallets of stone over our stairs into the garden and to level the area, as it's fairly large. Positioning the larger stones tested our limit, if we had to do it over again now that we are older and creakier we'd have to use far smaller stone. Do factor weight of stone into your calculations.

We just bought 'wild' pieces as they were, X square meters, and laid it out from there. You can buy granite either cut to a specific size or shape, or wild. Wild (and unpolished) was less expensive.

I seem to remember something like 80-100/m2, but this was 12 years ago so I could be way off, but I remember thinking that it wasn't outrageous. Once I screw up the courage to venture it OH's sacred lair office, I'll look for our records.

ETA:
Now that I look at the Kuster site, I wonder if our stone Tessiner Gneis, not Graubunden. Either way, it's a dark charcoal grey granite. If I ever figure out how to post pics here, I'll put up some during and after photos.

Verbier 03.04.2017 15:17

Re: Front garden refurbishment questions / ideas
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by krlock3 (Post 2766866)

3. At the bottom of the picture, this concrete thing is a bit of an unknown.. I don't know where the manhole goes for example. I'm going to request the original plans for the house to see what it turns up.

Do you have a fall-out shelter in the basement? This cover may lead down to the cellar (on the outside of the double hatched door that will be mounted in the wall). It could also be the area where they exhaust the filtered air.

If not, it is possibly the access to the rain water or sewage water system for the houses in the immediate area. You can cover it over (as part of a deck) BUT you need to have a cut-out that allows the service people access to the manhole cover. Just be aware, given the weight of these things, the workers just want to lift and slide it over with their tool so have a large enough "cut-out" that gives them room to do so without wrecking your deck.

krlock3 04.04.2017 09:52

Re: Front garden refurbishment questions / ideas
 
We don't have a basement level actually. I did hear that the house used to be powered by oil and when that changed, they simply buried the oil tank instead of removing it... which sounds strange to me. Maybe it's access to an oil tank. When I find a place that sells a manhole cover remover... i'll let everyone know what's living down there!

Quote:

Originally Posted by Verbier (Post 2766986)
Do you have a fall-out shelter in the basement? This cover may lead down to the cellar (on the outside of the double hatched door that will be mounted in the wall). It could also be the area where they exhaust the filtered air.

If not, it is possibly the access to the rain water or sewage water system for the houses in the immediate area. You can cover it over (as part of a deck) BUT you need to have a cut-out that allows the service people access to the manhole cover. Just be aware, given the weight of these things, the workers just want to lift and slide it over with their tool so have a large enough "cut-out" that gives them room to do so without wrecking your deck.


meloncollie 04.04.2017 10:53

Re: Front garden refurbishment questions / ideas
 
Our mystery manhole, which looks similar to yours, contains electric wires. Seemed a strange place for electric, but there ya go.

I thought of this thread as I was pulling the weeds that had sprung up in the gravel between our stones. We left fairly large gaps between the stones, a couple centemeters, because drainage is an issue here in Swampy Ausserschwyz. However, that means a bit of extra work, not only replenishing settled gravel and sweeping up after mutts, but also intermittent weeding.

If you don't have drainage concerns, placing your stones without gaps would save you that maintenance work.


(Why is it that grass seed happily sprouts in stone, where it is unwanted, but not in my carefully prepared and lovingly tended lawn?)

krlock3 04.04.2017 12:39

Re: Front garden refurbishment questions / ideas
 
So what would you guys put in as a privacy screen? Hedge / flowers / tree?

neddy 04.04.2017 13:06

Re: Front garden refurbishment questions / ideas
 
1 Attachment(s)
One of these?

krlock3 04.04.2017 14:04

Re: Front garden refurbishment questions / ideas
 
haha, not bad not bad but I think I'd rather just have some kind of hedge!

newtoswitz 04.04.2017 14:31

Re: Front garden refurbishment questions / ideas
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by krlock3 (Post 2767440)
So what would you guys put in as a privacy screen? Hedge / flowers / tree?

Does it have an impact on your light?

A nice trellis with climbing flowers in summer but nothing in winter could give the best of both.

For the big concrete bit - the decking panels would be the nicest, but an easier alternative would be to jet wash it (or scrub it), fill the crack, and then paint it with outdoor floor paint (non-slip! or add some sand).

Tom1234 04.04.2017 14:52

Re: Front garden refurbishment questions / ideas
 
Get a yew hedge as you suggested yourself in your first post.

They don't grow too fast and only need cutting twice a year and you can make them look really neat and tidy if that's your thing.

With an electric hedge trimmer, you can do it in a few minutes.

More importantly, they don't suffer from pests and diseases like buxus.

However, the leaves and berry seeds are toxic so don't eat them.

Belgianmum 04.04.2017 17:50

Re: Front garden refurbishment questions / ideas
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by krlock3 (Post 2767440)
So what would you guys put in as a privacy screen? Hedge / flowers / tree?

I'd go for a hedge personally. Maybe something like Viburnum Tinus or Photinia or a mix of the two to add a bit of colour.

JagWaugh 04.04.2017 18:02

Re: Front garden refurbishment questions / ideas
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by krlock3 (Post 2767346)
We don't have a basement level actually. I did hear that the house used to be powered by oil and when that changed, they simply buried the oil tank instead of removing it... which sounds strange to me. Maybe it's access to an oil tank. When I find a place that sells a manhole cover remover... i'll let everyone know what's living down there!

That is how our oil tank was originally. It had been decommissioned long ago, all I did was lift the cover off, drill quite a few holes in the bottom, then a ring of holes through the concrete where the stub for the cover came up, then knocked the stub to bits with a sledge and some wedges and filled the volume with gravel and rubble.

It sounds really simple. It was, as a matter of fact. If I had to do it again I would rent a jackhammer, or better yet... hire someone who has a jackhammer (and a wheelbarrow).

And before you even think about eliminating the tank, make sure (very sure) that the pipes from the tank to the inside of the house have been removed or blanked off. If you open the tank to the elements and rainwater collects in it then you don't want a pipe connecting that to the inside of the house.

krlock3 10.04.2017 09:01

Re: Front garden refurbishment questions / ideas
 
I'm continuing to dig out the garden, the gravel and roots are gone.

Soon I will take up the flagstones, dig out the soil, lay a weed mat, put gravel on top of the weed mat to a height of up to 10cm, level it correctly and relay the flagstones.

I was thinking of using basalt splitt 2-5mm for the underlay gravel. The city is doing some renewal in our area and recently did something similar just up the road, and seemed to use gravel of about this size. Any objections?

http://www.hornbach.ch/shop/Basaltsp...8/artikel.html

Also, is there a special material that is commonly used here to fill the gaps between the flagstones?

JagWaugh 10.04.2017 10:16

Re: Front garden refurbishment questions / ideas
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by krlock3 (Post 2770264)
I'm continuing to dig out the garden, the gravel and roots are gone.

Soon I will take up the flagstones, dig out the soil, lay a weed mat, put gravel on top of the weed mat to a height of up to 10cm, level it correctly and relay the flagstones.

I was thinking of using basalt splitt 2-5mm for the underlay gravel. The city is doing some renewal in our area and recently did something similar just up the road, and seemed to use gravel of about this size. Any objections?

http://www.hornbach.ch/shop/Basaltsp...8/artikel.html

Also, is there a special material that is commonly used here to fill the gaps between the flagstones?

Splitt locks together because of the sharp edges (Ever notice that railway tracks never have rounded stone? That's why.)

If you're using regular shaped stones (i.e. with a constant, narrow, gap) use sand, if you're using irregular shaped stones then fill with splitt.

Rent a powered tamper and tamp the earth below your weedmat, lay your splitt bed, then the stones, and brush splitt into the gaps but just below the surface. Then fit a rubber pad to the tamper and tamp the whole patio area - this will settle the stones in so they won't kick up as the splitt settles.

If you're using large regular stones (Pizza box size or larger), and sand, then you don't need to tamp the patio after it is laid, but smaller stones need tamping.

naza 10.04.2017 10:36

Re: Front garden refurbishment questions / ideas
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by krlock3 (Post 2767440)
So what would you guys put in as a privacy screen? Hedge / flowers / tree?

we used a combination of

Photinia Fraseri
Prunus Laurocerasus


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