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Author Topic: That 'big project' I've been banging on about for a few years now....  (Read 33712 times)
J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #225 on: May 22, 2020, 08:37:15 pm »

Funny you should mention brown because that's the colour of the curtains that were left behind when I moved in.  I did think they might need replacing but having put them back up a few nights ago as an interim measure whilst I draw breath (and wait for payday) I've actually noticed they complement the blue quite well, so they're probably going to stay.

The last few bits I'm planning to look at are cleaning up the fireplace and the shelf brackets; I was able, yesterday, to buy a tin of black eggshell paint so that's going to be this weekend's chore.  There are 40 brackets to repaint and so far I've done 6 of them, and my assessment of the task is that watching paint dry would be less mind-numbingly dull.   

The three colours are setting the tone for decoration. Try to repeat the pattern. Bring white for definition and light (eg a large blue and white Chinese vase somewhere). The floor and door are setting the colours for furniture, a coffee table made from some Victorian farm implement for example. Blue glassware...

For us it was the 1970s, so you guessed it, the blue part was the rug! Dark royal blue, with orange brick, clay tile floors and wall brown wood frames and 1950 modern redwood furniture. White ceilings and some walls as well, accented with Mexican ethnic art for a splash of colour. Cobalt blue and white Spanish patterned tile in the kitchen. All  cobalt blue hand-blown glassware. It had a lot of impact, in a very good way. Looked like something out of a fashion magazine or an architectural magazine.
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James Harrison
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« Reply #226 on: May 23, 2020, 11:07:08 am »

I've actually got a veritable cornucopia of colours in the sitting room; consider....

-deep blue walls;
-light brown curtains;
-wood effect floors;
-varnished timber door;
-white skirting/cornice/window reveal;
-burgundy sofa;
-black fireplace and bookshelves;
-green rug and tiling to the fireplace. 

Somehow it all gels nicely. 
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« Reply #227 on: May 23, 2020, 12:34:27 pm »

I've actually got a veritable cornucopia of colours in the sitting room; consider....

-deep blue walls;
-light brown curtains;
-wood effect floors;
-varnished timber door;
-white skirting/cornice/window reveal;
-burgundy sofa;
-black fireplace and bookshelves;
-green rug and tiling to the fireplace. 

Somehow it all gels nicely. 

Purely uniform tones are practically impossible to find and undesirable. Our bricks on the wall were hand formed and fired so they came in various shades from chocolate brown to bright orange.

Burgundy on the sofa groups with the bruwn/orange/red group. The wood looks to be a bit on the orange side for the floor and door. Green might seem as a stretch to group with blue, but it is the closest because tthe "deep blue" looks, at least on my screen to have some green content. Black is neutral. White can also vary in shade, though I'd recommend to stay away from yellowish tones to allow white to be sharper at defining edges. You basically have 3 colours.
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Deimos
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« Reply #228 on: May 23, 2020, 09:33:28 pm »

@James : When you say "Wood effect floors" what is that exactly?

In the US "wood floors" can be one of three types:

1)Real solid wood (often "reclaimed"), that is 100% wood, the planks being about 1" (2cm) thick  ...the best to have, if you can afford it.

2)Engineered (aka engineered laminate) wood floor which is a laminate of 5-7 layers of artificial material with the top layer (5mm) being real wood. The overall thickness is typically no more than 12mm, if that.
It typically comes in planks or squares which are locked together for install. Next best thing to real wood, except that unlike real wood you can only sand it (for refinishing) a few times before you sand through it to the other non-wood layers.  

3) Laminate "with the look of real wood" ....made like the engineered wood except that the top layer is a foil that looks like wood. Shapes and install are also the same.
It is the most affordable and the most commonly used but is also the least durable. In the US the most well known name for (to the point of it becoming a generic term for all wood look laminate flooring) is PERGO.
The image on the foil can look really good or completely fake. Price, of course, is usually the determining factor.

Edit: after Googling Pergo it seems the company also offers engineered (or engineered laminate) flooring.
But originally --at least 30 years ago when I first heard about it--- Pergo was strictly the total fake stuff.

A variation on the the totally fake wood look floor is LVT --Luxury Vinyl Tile--- which can be squares or planks or roll-out sheets. Some brands look totally, amazingly like real wood.
It can also be made to look like stone (this being only in squares or sheets) and because it is vinyl it can be textured to mimic real stone, such as travertine or slate.
 
  
« Last Edit: May 23, 2020, 09:46:50 pm by Deimos » Logged

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« Reply #229 on: May 24, 2020, 09:59:04 am »

As best as I can tell, the floor in the sitting room is about 5mm thick and composed of that laminated stuff that locks together (sold in planks that clip together tongue and groove fashion).  Onto which is printed or laminated a sort of pine effect.  I'm not entirely certain how I want to progress with this.  Around the fireplace I can lift it up a little and it suggests that underneath there's a black or very dark brown floor (I can't tell whether this is the floorboards- I know it was the fashion prior to fitted carpets to paint floorboards).

If I go down the route of taking the floor out, 1) I don't know what it will reveal- sometimes what you don't know won't worry you... 2) It would lower the floor by about 5mm, meaning that 'something' would need to be done with the skirting boards.  And the door frame.  3)  I'd then need to decide whether to clean up the original floorboards or re-cover them. 

If I keep the current flooring though it will definitely need cleaning as it's covered in paint spots, little drips of filler, brick dust, paint dust....

The wooden floor suits the room but part of me wants to see if a darker tone, such as a walnut, might suit it even better.     

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James Harrison
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« Reply #230 on: May 24, 2020, 10:26:20 am »

So, what is left to do in the sitting room?

Shall we start with the elements that I'm either dealing with or can do for myself?

1) Cleaning up the shelf brackets.  There are 40 of these and they got covered with spots of white and blue paint whilst painting the rooms.  To this end I've bought some eggshell black paint and I'm using one of my larger hobby brushes to repaint them back into black.  I've got 6 of these left to do.

2) Repainting the fireplace surround.  This is a flat slate black sort of a colour and informed my decision to go for black shelving.  It's looking a bit tired so I'll be giving it a new coat of black paint. 

3) A coffee table.  I ordered one, with a 12-week delivery timescale, and then plague struck, so it could be another 12 weeks after that's done its thing before it turns up. 

4) A CD unit in the bay window.  Myself and my brother are looking at building one basically from scratch.  Of course it's going to have to wait until after plague. 

5) A new light fitting in the ceiling.  I've actually got the light sitting in a box in the spare room.  Had plague not struck it would have been fitted by now. 

6) A new radiator.  Again, I have the radiator to hand.  It's waiting on the plumber being able to come and fit it.... and of course in between remving the existing radiator and fitting the new one, there's a path of wall that currently can't be reached that needs to be repainted.

7) Varnishing the door.  Maybe a summer holiday job?
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Deimos
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« Reply #231 on: May 24, 2020, 01:36:56 pm »

Re: the floor...

I'd live with it for now if it's in good shape, and only needs cleaning up.
As you mentioned it would be a lot of work to replace it...not so much pulling it up (if it's floating) as dealing with the skirting and door frame being too high.
The quick and dirty way of dealing with too high skirting would be a strip of "quarter round" to cover the gap.
I've never liked the look of that because it screams "cover-up" but it's still done a lot.
And it doesn't address the gap at the bottom of the door frame.
You'd either have to cut  and install new longer vertical pieces of the frame, or carefully cut away 6 inches or so at the bottom of each piece (and a little of the skirting on each side) and install plinth blocks.
Plinth blocks actually look pretty neat (when done right). 
 
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James Harrison
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« Reply #232 on: May 24, 2020, 01:52:17 pm »

Re: the floor...

I'd live with it for now if it's in good shape, and only needs cleaning up.
As you mentioned it would be a lot of work to replace it...not so much pulling it up (if it's floating) as dealing with the skirting and door frame being too high.
The quick and dirty way of dealing with too high skirting would be a strip of "quarter round" to cover the gap.
I've never liked the look of that because it screams "cover-up" but it's still done a lot.
And it doesn't address the gap at the bottom of the door frame.
You'd either have to cut  and install new longer vertical pieces of the frame, or carefully cut away 6 inches or so at the bottom of each piece (and a little of the skirting on each side) and install plinth blocks.
Plinth blocks actually look pretty neat (when done right). 
 

I think you're right, there. 

~~~~~

I've got a handle, a germ of an idea, how I want to proceed with the dining room.  

You may recall, months ago, I was thinking of putting up a picture rail and a chair rail in there, and panelling below the chair rail and painting to above the picture rail and having some William Morris style wallpaper in between, but since moving in I've found

1) The room has the ability to feel smaller than it is
2) The size of the fireplace and the height of the boxing around the electric meter dictate the height of the lower rail
3) Meanwhile if the picture rail goes in at a height to look right the vertical proportions of the room all told are going to look very odd considering (2)
4) The room faces north and has only a small window (in fact a future project might even.... no I won't mention that yet, we'll see how the next few years pan out first).  

So that idea sort of died off. I'm toying with the idea of applying it to a larger room instead, maybe the master bedroom when I reach that point.  

The problem I'm having in trying to restore the house is really a fewfold.

1) Every room I've looked at so far, even if only peeling wallpaper back or sanding paint down, has yielded up no clue whatever about previous decoration or colour schemes.  
2) Pretty much all of my reference material considers the 'middle class household' and above.  Five or six bedroom houses that were for the more prosperous when built and the rich today.  My house has two bedrooms, probably originally three, and although sited in the 'posh' end of town is, unabashedly, of humble origin.  So it comes in right at the very bottom of the scale of my reference books, if it features on their spectrum at all.  
3) Much of my reference material shows huge rooms all decorated exactly the same and the only way you can tell what the room does is by the funiture in there.  
4) Chintz.  So much chintz.  I don't do chintz.  

So, what I'm doing is- it is a restoration after a fashion- following Viollet-le-Duc's maxim of restoring a building to a state of completeness it may never have originally possessed- but I can't take it back to how it would have originally looked in 1900 and odd, because the information simply doesn't exist and in any case if I were to do that I'd be looking at major structural work to reinstate the original kitchen and bathroom facilities, or lack thereof.  I've said from the start that this is not an Historic England or National Trust style project, the aim is a comfortable home for myself.  

So the approach I'm taking is to restore it to how it might have appeared, within reason, which broadly means Edwardian-styled interiors with modern electrics and plumbing and so on and so forth.  

As I've just said, Edwardian-styled interiors are all a bit.... not dull as such but repetitive.  Bright neutral colours and reproduction furniture.  Now you might be thinking if that's the case why have I painted the sitting room in a dark blue, but my argument is that it's a masculine space (or at least, I'm treating as a library-sitting room which qualifies as such) and you'd expect to find darker hues there as such, whether painted or wooden panelled.  

So, back to the dining room.  As I say, it's a smaller room, it faces north and it has a small window- and any direct sunlight you might reasonably expect to garner in spite of those circumstances is still blocked by the kitchen and bathroom range.  So the brighter colours I think are more necessary here.  Going through my books this morning, I think a light cream sort of colour would be period-appropriate, as would either a picture rail or a chair rail- not both- and then a wallpaper in a complementary light shade below.  I'm just looking if I can find an appropriate pattern that I like- and keep running into chintz.  

I can think of two options;

1) Cream paint from cornice level to a chair rail, varnished timber chair rail, and light coloured (green? or red?) wallpaper below.  Maybe striped two-tone green or striped red/cream.
2) White paint from cornice level to a picture rail, varnished timber picture rail, cream paint below.  A patterned wallpaper would I think be too much over that sort of a height.  

It's all academic at present anyhow, as I'm having to work from home and the only room I can use for that is the dining room.  So it's an aspect of the project that will have to wait until the normality of getting up at silly o'clock in the morning and spending hours a day crammed into commuter trains travelling to and from the office returns.  
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James Harrison
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« Reply #233 on: May 25, 2020, 06:02:36 pm »

So; update. 

Three months since moving in and the sitting room I can pretty much tick off my to-do list. 

The front garden is still in the stages of being torn to bits, the trees are being hacked up now into chunks to dry out and use as firewood, which is a slow process as the saw keeps getting caught in the moist wood.  I'm tearing out a few wild grass plants but generally the rate of progress is dictated by the capacity of the garden waste bin, which is currently full. 

I've got the germ of an idea for how to treat the dining room but that is going to have to wait until after I can return to my workplace, as that's the only room in the house where I feel comfortable working from home (so I don't want to start ripping it to pieces whilst having to work in there for 8 hours a day 5 days a week). 

That leaves the kitchen, two bedrooms, bathroom and hallway.  The bedrooms I don't have the first clue what I want yet- the spare bedroom yes I do but if that gets done then work on the house will stop as work on the model railway will start.  The bathroom will be in a constant state of mess whilst the rest of the house is attended to, so that's at pretty much the bottom of the list (I would say, even after the spare room).  The kitchen, even leaving aside the issues of getting plumbers etc in during a pandemic, will be quite an involved and expensive job and I don't feel up to that yet. 

Which leaves the hallway.  This is a very awkward space on account of its narrowness, height, lack of light, the proportions don't lend themselves to anything I can think of and of course being a main throughfare through the house whatever I do needs to be hardwearing. 



















This is going to need a very different approach to the sitting room.  I like the plaster arch at the foot of the stairs, and I like the timber balustrading at the top of the stairs.  Everything else from top to bottom though?  Don't be surprised if it goes.  If I could be certain of getting the tiles up without damaging the originals still in place below (and if I could be certain that the originals below are still useable) I'd even go so far as taking the floor out. 
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« Reply #234 on: May 25, 2020, 07:16:06 pm »

Hmm, personally I'd be tempted to leave the tiles in place for now, as they don't seem too bad, but I might look to replace them. I'd certainly look to replace the carpet for one of a paler colour. My knowledge of historic houses suggests a fawn colour might be a good choice for the walls.

As to increasing the light levels I might suggest hanging a large mirror on the wall opposite or next to the doorway in order to reflect some light into the darker sections.
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« Reply #235 on: May 25, 2020, 07:51:51 pm »

Re: the hallway

I agree with MAASF about the tile...for now I'd leave it as it helps to break up the narrowness of the hallway.

Here are a few suggestions: Narrow hallway fixes
I'm not taken with all of them but I do like the idea of wainscoting or a "chair rail" (sans any chairs!) with maybe wallpaper or a different color paint above (or below)  the wainscot or rail.

At the moment the tile takes the place of the suggested rug.

And if the hall passes the "chicken test" you could hang a mirror or two, or art (like pictures of old trains....I have pics -- black and white--of old locomotives pulled from calendars which I then had framed....they always elicit appreciative comments).  
 
« Last Edit: May 26, 2020, 02:02:26 am by Deimos » Logged
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« Reply #236 on: May 25, 2020, 08:15:20 pm »

I would also suggest leaving the tile, it doesn't look out of period and appears to be in reasonable condition.  I would suggest a dado rail part way up then lincrusta wallpaper below (various Victorian looking patterns of this are still readily available). Then pain the lincrusta a reasonably dark colour, if you want to go full Victorian go for a dark gloss colour. Then above painted a lighter colour, you could then add a gallery wall above that with loads of framed pictures and mirrors (get to the charity shops after lockdown ends, they always have loads of frames). Then maybe re-do the stairs with paintedtreads and a narrow carpet with stair-rods. You need to find a good lantern style light for the front half and I would suggest a radiator cover unless you fancy replacing the radiator with something more period. Another thing you could do is replace that frosted glass fanlight with plain glass then cut a template to spray frosting spray leaving the house number or possibly the old name in plane glass.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2020, 08:19:18 pm by Lord Pentecost » Logged

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« Reply #237 on: May 26, 2020, 02:09:55 am »

I would also suggest leaving the tile, it doesn't look out of period and appears to be in reasonable condition.  I would suggest a dado rail part way up then lincrusta wallpaper below (various Victorian looking patterns of this are still readily available). Then pain the lincrusta a reasonably dark colour, if you want to go full Victorian go for a dark gloss colour. ...

Ooooooo... that Lincrusta wallpaper is great (had to look it up...didn't know what it was.)
It doesn't seem to be available in the US.....I'm trying to locate something similar or maybe a company that distributes Lincrusta in the US. But its' so very Vic-wardian...I'm sold on it just from reading about it and looking at the pics.
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SeVeNeVeS
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« Reply #238 on: May 26, 2020, 06:41:39 am »

I had to look up Lincrusta wallpaper too, I've always known it as anaglypta wallpaper.

Seems either is the same sort of thing.

Ooooooo... that Lincrusta wallpaper is great (had to look it up...didn't know what it was.)
It doesn't seem to be available in the US.....I'm trying to locate something similar or maybe a company that distributes Lincrusta in the US. But its' so very Vic-wardian...I'm sold on it just from reading about it and looking at the pics.
E-bay ?
« Last Edit: May 26, 2020, 07:09:00 am by SeVeNeVeS » Logged

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« Reply #239 on: May 26, 2020, 10:54:38 am »

I was interested in the issue of weeds being pulled out. Can't you make a temporary compost pile in your front garden? Is it forbidden by any local regulations?
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« Reply #240 on: May 26, 2020, 06:23:10 pm »

Some very good ideas and links posted, thanks chaps (and chappesses).  I tried the chicken test... and wedged in there  Undecided (and no I'm not fat nor even big-boned). 
Re: anaglypta/ lincrusta; I've started (barely) taking down the stuff that's already up but that's more because it was already blistered and peeling.  I'm certainly open to having a period version of it instated. 

My very vague thoughts at the moment are a varnished dark wood dado rail both sides (above handrail height) and light cream paint top to bottom.  I was going to have a radiator cover in there but you may recall the snafu when I ordered one and it proved 6" too short to cover the radiator and reach the floor.  That radiator is probably going to have to stay, if I were to replace it with another like the one for the sitting room it will eat into the available space too much.  Staircase, I'm not a fan of the carpet but I've not considered what to replace it with yet. 

I was interested in the issue of weeds being pulled out. Can't you make a temporary compost pile in your front garden? Is it forbidden by any local regulations?

I'm allowed bonfires, I'm allowed compost heaps.  Problem is the front garden is out onto a fairly busy road and I don't want drifting smoke causing a traffic hazard and annoying the nieghbours. Nor do I want a compost heap on public display (having one in the back is another thing entirely as it's private), it's the look of the thing.  One of my parents neighbours had three or four rusting old cars full of junk on his driveway and gained the nickname 'Steptoe', which has never quite gone away (neither have the cars actually), and I'm not thrilled about the prospect of following his example.   
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« Reply #241 on: May 26, 2020, 08:26:40 pm »

Lincrusta wallpaper In the US this can be found under embossed or textured wallpaper. Depending on what each store calls it. They have it at Home Depot. Just checked the web site.
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« Reply #242 on: May 26, 2020, 08:55:32 pm »

...
I was going to have a radiator cover in there but you may recall the snafu when I ordered one and it proved 6" too short to cover the radiator and reach the floor.  That radiator is probably going to have to stay, if I were to replace it with another like the one for the sitting room it will eat into the available space too much.  Staircase, I'm not a fan of the carpet but I've not considered what to replace it with yet.... 

Re radiator: I agree that hallway space (width-wise anyway) being at a praemium  it would make no sense to replace it with a larger one. Leave it and live with it as is. Guests will enter through the hallway but you certainly aren't going to entertain them there.

Re the stairs: sooner or later (as you are well aware) the carpet will begin to look so shabby that you will have to do something. So start googling now to see what others have done in similar situations so you can at least be turning over some ideas whilst you do other projects.
I do know  people have torn out the carpeting on stairs and then redone the steps [somehow] with real wood.
I can't imagine your stairs being anything other than wood, but maybe really, really worn. Or not. (One can always hope, juneau....).

Time was maybe 50 years ago that wall-to-wall carpet was all the rage.
For the life of me I can't figure out why my dad covered all the hardwood floors in the bedrooms with carpet.
It was a new house so it wasn't like the wood floors were in bad shape. They weren't. Yet he covered perfectly good hard wood floors.
Anyway, maybe your stairs are in pretty good shape and the previous owner(s) just had a carpet fetish.       
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Deimos
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« Reply #243 on: May 27, 2020, 07:47:04 am »

Lincrusta wallpaper In the US this can be found under embossed or textured wallpaper. Depending on what each store calls it. They have it at Home Depot. Just checked the web site.

Thank you....will check it out.
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« Reply #244 on: May 27, 2020, 08:37:08 pm »

More garden work happened tonight.  There were two large grass-like plants that I decided I didn't want.  In the course of cutting them down and putting them in newly-emptied garden waste bin, another tree stump was discovered.... this one had been dead for some time though and was half rotten, so the shovel and trowel were able to make short work of it. 

By this point I was worn out, so the root system of the second plant will wait until tomorrow.  And, after that is down, I can finish off turning the garden topsoil over.  Oh, and those two tree trunks still need cutting into smaller pieces....
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« Reply #245 on: May 28, 2020, 06:54:28 pm »

Front garden is.... as cleared as it is going to be.  Now comes the 'fun' bit.... turning over 8" of clay topsoil.... another time perhaps.
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Deimos
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« Reply #246 on: May 29, 2020, 02:13:53 am »

Front garden is.... as cleared as it is going to be.  Now comes the 'fun' bit.... turning over 8" of clay topsoil.... another time perhaps.

HAHA.....have fun...I know exactly what you mean, cubed.
I will take clay any day rather than what we deal with in the lower deserts; if only it were just clay.
We have clay but also Caliche.

In high desert it might not start until 10 inches below the surface. Low desert where I live it can be the surface itself.
It's called "nature's cement" for a reason. Sometimes it requires a jackhammer to break the stuff up (if you want to spare your back).
I was lucky....I got away with just using a pick-axe (Gimli, call your office), and it was only in a few places.
Had to deal with just clay after that which, after hammering at the caliche, was like falling off a log.     
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« Reply #247 on: May 29, 2020, 02:04:03 pm »

Front garden is.... as cleared as it is going to be.  Now comes the 'fun' bit.... turning over 8" of clay topsoil.... another time perhaps.

Start a pottery perhaps?
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« Reply #248 on: May 29, 2020, 10:18:32 pm »

Clay soil can be very tough indeed. In Southern California, a few eons ago I used to have a 5 acre property in the mountains, about 16 miles and 1000 ft above coastal San Diego. All of Southern California is covered in red clay soil (red from iron oxide) . The aggregate rock and pebbles make the top soil extremely dense. I broke the handle of a brand new pick-axe once just trying to dig a small hole for a post.

Front garden is.... as cleared as it is going to be.  Now comes the 'fun' bit.... turning over 8" of clay topsoil.... another time perhaps.
Front garden is.... as cleared as it is going to be.  Now comes the 'fun' bit.... turning over 8" of clay topsoil.... another time perhaps.

HAHA.....have fun...I know exactly what you mean, cubed.
I will take clay any day rather than what we deal with in the lower deserts; if only it were just clay.
We have clay but also Caliche.

In high desert it might not start until 10 inches below the surface. Low desert where I live it can be the surface itself.
It's called "nature's cement" for a reason. Sometimes it requires a jackhammer to break the stuff up (if you want to spare your back).
I was lucky....I got away with just using a pick-axe (Gimli, call your office), and it was only in a few places.
Had to deal with just clay after that which, after hammering at the caliche, was like falling off a log.    

Front garden is.... as cleared as it is going to be.  Now comes the 'fun' bit.... turning over 8" of clay topsoil.... another time perhaps.

Start a pottery perhaps?


Start a cement business instead!

Wiki
Quote
Caliche is used in construction worldwide. Its reserves in the Llano Estacado in Texas can be used in the manufacture of Portland cement; the caliche meets the chemical composition requirements and has been used as a principal raw material in Portland cement production in at least one Texas plant.

Wouldn't it'd be awesome to use it and purify it to make some clay bricks or tile to showcase in the house?
« Last Edit: May 29, 2020, 10:48:53 pm by J. Wilhelm » Logged
James Harrison
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« Reply #249 on: May 30, 2020, 11:05:43 am »

I agree actually, it would be very cool to do that.  But the more I turn the garden over the more I'm coming to the conclusion that I've got more of a clayey sand or gravel than anything else.  It comes out the ground in thick cohesive clumps which are easy enough to break up (and it's very damp) but once turned over it dries out quite quickly and turns to dust or granular stuff.  That's something clay doesn't do, leastways not overnight.  I think what I've likely got is a dense slightly clayey sand overlying a slightly looser material- and of course a lot of what I originally took for cohesion (hence saying it was clay in the first place) could equally well have just been a mat of very fine tree and grass roots binding the soil together. 

This morning I've been doing some garden work.  It's now just going 11AM and, frankly, it's too hot to keep on at it.  What I've achieved over the last few evenings is to cut my tree trunks down as far as practical into winter firewood, I've now got a pile of smaller logs and two large (4' or so) trunks/root balls where I feel carrying on trying to cut them up is too much effprt for what it is worth.  The branches are close together and several inches across, the one saw can't reach all the way to cut them whilst the other starts to cut then jams, and if you do manage to find somewhere you can actually reach to cut you end up sawing off maybe 3 or 4 inches of length.  It's just not worth it. 

So I've reinforced my reputation as the town lunatic and dragged them out the front garden, down the side street and into the back garden, where they're now sunning themselves in front of my garage wall.  Four or five months time they should be nicely dried out ready for bonfire night. 

I'm starting t think that late Spring/ early Summer is perhaps not the best time of year to do serious yard work in a garden that has open aspects to east and west and faces south, you get direct sun from dawn until dusk. 
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