Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Waterfall reconstruction

 Neglected Pond and Waterfall

Over the winter the pond tends to get very neglected.The pump is switched off,the fish go into hibernation and so do we!Last summer we noticed the pool needed topping up weekly and we concluded that there was probably a leak in the liner for the waterfall and so we decided that the pond needed a bit of TLC!
 The first job was to have a discussion with the illegal labour.He concurred with me that it was a good idea to completely remove the old water fall and start from scratch (Great minds think alike)
 Removing rocks and stones from the waterfall liner.
 Removing the liner.
 Cutting and digging out new steps for the waterfall.The pond filter can be seen at the top of the waterfall.
 I decided that it might be a good idea to cut down some of the trees shading the pond.When they were first planted they were described as "Dwarf conifers".Not so small now!They looked fine when first planted but now they are out of proportion to the pond and shed their leaves every year.Come June i have to wade in to the Stygian depths of the pond and clean the accumulated mud and silt out.Not my favourite job!
 Now you see it.
 Now you don't.

 More trees taken out above the waterfall.

 Stumps dug out.Donkey work !

 Laying the slabs of the waterfall

Unfortunately i got so engrossed in the building of the waterfall that i forgot to take photo's right the way through every stage.I like to document these projects but somehow you forget about it.The important thing is to get the job done!!
Because the liner became punctured, probably due to the burrowing activities of rats and moles i decided that i needed to build a layer of bricks for backing for the liner.Let the little critters try burrowing through that!.Once the foundation bricks had been laid  i then rolled  out the pvc liner on top and to the sides.The final stage was to silicone seal the sandstone paving slabs,risers steps and cheeks to one another and back fill the cheeks with bricks and finally rockery stone to disguise  the construction.

As You can see i had to drain the pond a little to build the final steps.

Cheeks in position but not cut to size.
 The foreman checking out the finished article.
 What do you think of the terracotta vases.Very classical !The final touches were to construct a new rockery and clear overgrown marginal plants from the edge of the pond.
O yes,and cut a final tree down.
 Third year of growth on our Gunnera.V pleased with progress.
I also planted a Petasites in a mini bog garden which i constructed just by the pond.These plants are very susceptible to dry conditions and attack by slugs and snails.I dug a pit about  15 inches deep, lined it with thick polythene ,perforated the liner for a little drainage ,backfilled the pit with well manured soil and then planted the 3 inch high Petasites.First year growth was up to 30 inch height and i hope by next year i will have a well established clump there.I am planning to construct another mini bog garden next year and plant them with Arum lilies!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Amdega Conservatory Build .Ebay purchase

Ebay Purchase £500

I was looking for a replacement for an old greenhouse which had reached the end of it's days and tracked this wooden conservatory down on ebay.I paid £500 for it thinking i hd a bargain.Little did I know how much extra expense and work it would take to dismantle and erect it!!

The sellers owned a lovely garden as you can see and i was
surprised they wanted  to sell.However they intended to erect an
even larger garden room.


How confidently I started off detaching all the internal blinds.A piece of cake!! The vents unscrewed without much effort.The problems started when i attempted to take out the double glazed sheets of glass in the roof.They were held in place with wooden cedar capping bars ,pinned and silicone sealed into position.By the time i prised these off, most of them had been splintered and reduced to match wood.The glass had been puttied and siliconed onto the glazing bars and was never meant to be undone.It was set there like concrete.I tried warming them up with a blowtorch ,cutting them out with a skill knife and fin ally i desperation grinding out the putty with an angle grinder.Needless to say half the roof panes broke or cracked and the rest were in a sorry state by the time i had deglazed the building.

 The next problem was how to detach the individual wooden frames that made up the structure of the building.They were held together with counter sunk galvanised wood screws which had been puttied over and effectively hidden from view.This took some time and although most of the frames detached, unscathed the central ridge sustained considerable damage when it crashed to the ground..I decided that i wasn't going to deglaze the side panels and therefore dismantled them with the glass in situ.I had to cut through the brass hinges holding the large top hung side vents with an angle grinder (What a brute).At this stage i was regretting buying the conservatory and the air was turning blue with muttered curses and thoughts of impending doom.At this stage there was no turning back.

Once the frames were dismantled, i chopped out all the bricks on the dwarf wall and cleaned the mortar off.Finally i saved all the quarry tiles which came up very easily as the mortar bed they were cemented too was rubbish.At last,an easy job.I suppose i spent about 5 days dismantling and transporting the buildingat the start of one December just as the  weather was on the change.Snow was falling on the last load home.I decided to call it a day until the spring.

Demolishing the Old Greenhouse

About March the following year ,with the weather improving,i decided to come out of hibernation and make a start on the nextstep of the project.I became DEMOLITION MAN.No need to take any care.Just smash and break.Lord, it was good.I suppose i reduced the frame to matchwood in a day and it took me another day to save the wood and clear the site.The wood all got sawn up and used in the wood burner the next winter.No waste.Who says we aren't green in England .

Looks better already.

I decided to save the bricks from the dwarf walls here too.This was not an easy job.The brickie must have used a particularly strong mix and each cleaned up brick was hard fought for.

Foundations of New build

At last came the stage when i could start building again.Although the old green house stood on a concrete pad it didn't follow the same footprint as the Conservatory so to be on the safe side I broke up the concrete where the new foundations would go.If there was any settlement in the foundations it would be even over the whole area. I managed to crucify a Kango breaker and acquired a severe case of "White Finger vibration " for my troubles

Rubble infill all smashed up and compacted down.More donkey work .Blue bells are up so it must be May. I'm not the fastest of workers!!

Concreting time.Note the old vine still in the old greenhouse area.I originally had this crazy idea of keeping it and growing it inside the new conservatory.Needless to say i changed my mind .

Building the Dwarf Walls

At last I started the brick work.I had been quite meticulous measuring the dimensions of the Conservatory base when i dismantled it,so after marking out i started buiding.Luckily the weather was good and i took my time.I was quite pleased with the finished result but i still managed to leave smears of cement on the face work of some of the bricks.Never mind ,i did my best!

Roses are out now so it must be June.Get a move on Phillips !!

Framework Erection

Well i made a reasonable job of the brick work as the wooden frame fitted a treat.The ridge got mended with massive screws and a good dose of glue and within a few days the frame was essentially finished.At his stage i took a good look at the roof glass and decided that we needed new glass for the top.A lot of the double glazed units which were good had moisture inside them so i scrapped the lot.I made hardboard templates for the glass firm and they had them made up to size.

Now began one of the longest jobs.I had to sand down all the woodwork,router out all the old putty and mastic and then apply four coats of paint.Very boring and time consuming and having to dodge the showers.All done and dusted by the time we took our holiday in Brittany that august.I took delivery of the glass just before we left
I was not looking forward to the glazing of the roof but this was surprisingly quick.I engaged a local woodworking firm to make up some new wooden capping strips for the glazing (much cheaper than buying them from Amdega.I was quoted over £600 from them and Empsons only charged me £150 !).Technology and building methods had movd on since the building was first constructed and this time i used double sided mastic tape to bed the glass on.Stuck like s..t to a blanket.I then filled it with silicone sealer and finally pinned  the capping strips over the glass and glazing bars.Result,not a single breakage.What a relief!At last a weatherproof building with no leaks.

Flooring and tiling

With the glazing finished i could now concentrate on the interior.I laid heavy duty polythene (visqueen), screeded over the top of it and then after a few days i tiled .A few of the quarry tiles had broken so i decided to buy a few feature tiles for the middle.Instead of using a cement screed I chose tile adhesive which made a much better job and should ensure that the tiles wont lift.

Finishing Touches,Electric's and Furnishing

October,now and i was on the final leg.I applied a cement screed to the cement block back wall and gave it a couple of coats of paint.Installed two double electric plug points ,the electric fan and light unit and wired it all to a new circuit in the sub distributor box in the garage and hung the roof and side blinds.The last two purchases,again from Ebay were a cane three piece suite and a calor gas heater .
And here we are toasting our new Garden room


Next spring we decided that we were sick of treading in mud from the garden into the new room so paved a path from the garage .I dug out foundations , a layer of rubble and then sharp sand and finally cemented in sandstone paving (Cheaper than reconstructed stone paving now).It's taken a long time to complete the project but it's all been worth while.Keeps me out of mischief i suppose!!