Archive for the ‘landscape’ Category

Shade Sail, Part 2

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

The second shade sail now flying high above the side yard is a different type of installation from the lace-on version installed near the fire pit. This version is what I would consider to be the more traditional style of a sail, at least in terms of design and the support structure.

Check out the SketchUp model of the sail below.

Very nice if I do say so. I updated it a bit to reflect some changes to the fence and bar area. I cannot wait to landscape…

The heavy duty brackets that attach to the cement brick of the house were custom fabricated at Shade Industries. Basically, they are steel plates that have been powder-coated white with a large steel eyelet that serves as the attachment point for the turnbuckle. The brackets need to be incredibly strong in order to hold the tension on the sail and withstand our nutty desert wind.

Patrick pre-drilled holes with a hard core hammer drill outfitted with a cement drill bit and then inserted big bolts to hold the mounting plates on the wall.

Here they are mounted and ready for installation. Of course I picked white so that the brackets would blend in with the exterior paint.

We dug out two 3′ deep by about 2′ wide holes that would be used to install the steel poles on the opposite side of the yard. Look at all the luscious grass – it has really been a wet fall, creating lots of weedy problems.

Digging holes sucks, but really anyone can do it. Installing the poles turned out to be surprisingly easy as well.

Patrick has an awesome method for mixing small batches of Quikrete. Use one big blue tarp, a bucket of water and two manly dudes to mix it up.

Take the tarp and shake it back and forth. Totally works and makes perfect cement really quickly. I’m much more excited to pour cement after we did this and found it to be super effective.

Then just dump your mixed Quikrete in the pole hole. Fill it up so that thing won’t ever move.

Instead of going perfectly plumb with the poles, you want to lean the poles back slightly to counteract the tension of the shade.

Once all the brackets and poles were installed, Patrick measured out the dimensions for the shade. Measuring on site, after all the mounting hardware is up, alleviates any nagging worries and assures that the shade will be a perfect custom fit.

About a week or so later, the shade was all sewed up and ready to be installed. It only took about an hour to put up and is a fairly simple process. There are four turnbuckles that hook on to a steel ring at each corner as well as steel cable that runs around the edge of the shade.

Start installing the shade by attaching one corner and then work your way around. Easy peasy.

Sad shade. Happy shade.

Once the shade is attached at all four corners the turnbuckles get evenly tightened and the steel edge cable is pulled taught. After it is completely stretched that thing is tighter than a drum. You really need to make sure your mounting areas are rock solid!


This version is a little less laborious (in terms of installation) compared to the lace-on version, but the parts are much more custom and a tad more difficult to source. Installing four poles in the ground would be a fairly simple DIY project, just make sure they are heavy duty galvanized steel. You wouldn’t want them to collapse and bend in the middle after a big wind. I would probably source these type of heavy gauge poles at a local metal supply. We bought our hot rolled steel for the fire pit at a local industrial metal supply and found it to be a really  amazing place as well as very affordable – plus there is so much cool stuff to look at…I need to go back.

It turned out so perfectly and is a million times better than I ever hoped for. I LOVE IT. Love love love. Overflowing with love and appreciation and happiness. Patrick is the shade sail whisperer for sure.

Too bad the landscaping is less than lovely right now, but all in due time I guess. I feel like Patrick’s incredible shade sail handiwork is lessened by the ghetto grass and fence. Must amend that very soon, 2010 is coming to an end…

I’m also super embarrassed of the unfinished porch, in my defense it has been less than ideal painting weather. Really, this sail needs to be shown off from the front of the house to illustrate its super dramatic curvy sexiness. These new dark sails really take the exterior up a big notch, making me rethink the rest of the landscape design. I mean it really needs to be amazing to match how cool these turned out. The big swooping bad boy definitely causes me to stare every time I drive by. I drool and then immediately curse the fence, unfinished porch and lack of landscape.

If you have any questions about shade sails, have an idea you might like to discuss, or need a quote – go ahead and contact Patrick Howe directly via email or Shade Industries.

Thank you Patrick, you are the best!

Garden Tour (aka CAT BJ)

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

If there is a rainbow flower pinwheel and a welcome sign with tiny unreadable type, you must be in for a treat. A Hemet style treat.

Where to begin…

Saturday was incredibly hot and dry and I thought to myself, “Self, why don’t we go check out the local Water Wise Garden Tour and talk to some folks about xeriscaping. That sounds like a sexy good time!” In hindsight, that was probably a pretty crappy idea (and not sexy in the least).

The Garden Tour began with a professional landscaper’s “Asian” inspired home. If I hear Asian Inspired one more time, I swear, flames, flames on the side of my face. I digress. So, there was a koi pond and a path to nowhere, and a gazebo, and a pool that had seen better days, and bamboo to keep it Asian, and little statues, and a slide and fish. I did like the mounding grass…

I feel that Tim Gunn would assess like this: there was a whole lot of look happening here.

Overall it made me pretty uncomfortable and felt sort of schizophrenic in terms of design.

Here is the front yard with a weird huge rock-scape thing. If I was in an artist’s studio, I would possibly say that their work looked over-worked, felt forced and was a bit stiff. I do like the icy green bushy ground cover though…

Through the orchards and over the hills, to rural Hemet I go.

Next stop on the tour was…ummm…an “imposing yet welcoming Santa Fe-style home (with) charming decorative objects”.

Uh oh.

If the penis style mailbox was any sort of clue, I was certainly in for a treat.

Imposing and welcoming!

Charming decorative skull!

Wagon wheels? Pot belly stove? Boy howdy. The ADT sign doesn’t feel as charming though. I think they need a more rustic version.

Don’t fret. They have the required covered wagon and American flag.

They also have a CAT BJ license plate. A prominently displayed CAT BJ license plate. Why? I’m guessing for the charm.

Majestic and inspiring.

I’m thinking Tim Gunn would say that it’s verging on costume and maybe getting a little “themed”. Otherwise, make it work CAT BJ. Nice variety of cacti and succulents…

Number three.

By this point I was losing hope. Another professional landscapers home, oh great. But the driveway wasn’t terrible. Nice Palo Verde and Agave with some Ocotillo. The adobe walls are a bit much, but hey, lets take a look.

OK, the landscaping isn’t that interesting and I’m not sure how a whole bunch of lawn is water wise, but look at that brick and those windows. Certainly the first interesting house I’ve seen.

This was the first landscape that was actually comfortable to walk around in. A number of mature Sycamore trees and Wisteria gave ample shade to help reduce the temperature. I kind of loved the architecture of the place – the textured crumbly brick and the big windows and doors, even that crazy terracotta tile patio. This style home is usually not my cup of tea, but it was the first home in Hemet in a long time that I could actually see myself fixing up and enjoying.

I spoke to some of the guides and they said it was the original farmers house that overlooked a huge grapefruit orchard spread below in the valley. I guess it’s one of the earlier homes built in Hemet (when there was still a lot of farms).

The orchard is long gone, but some of the original architectural details remain. The decorative choices (like all those suns) are a little Santa Fe cheese-ball, but I think with a quick edit and some small adjustments it could be an incredible cottage type rustic rambler.

While I was there I just sort of wanted to sit and hang out. The exterior was actually really welcoming instead that sort of forced faux-welcoming overwrought thing that can happen.

I like the flagstone and the oversize windows. This place had a lot of charm and so much potential.

This pencil cactus was as old as I am. I’m kind of in love with pencil cactus right now.

Last one. I knew it might be a mess when I saw the words “small” and “mobile home” in the tour literature.

It did not disappoint, or it did disappoint. I don’t know, pick one.

I wish they could have picked a better marker than those stupid pinwheels. Look at all that space on your sign, USE BIGGER TYPE and less clip art. I am driving by with your crappy map and I can barely see your poorly designed signs (these were also the street signs leading the way and impossible to see).

I walked in the back yard and saw sad dusty plants with hoses thrown everywhere, PVC piping over empty cinder block beds and then just sort of died on the inside. People are coming for a tour! Put away your hoses.

Why did I drive over here.

Ah yes. A dry riverbed.

I am not into the dry riverbed landscape motif. I just don’t get it, it always looks silly to me. You are in an urban environment crowded by other homes, not nestled next to a forest or open landscape with an actual creek. Your fake riverbed does not fool me, it goes nowhere and does nothing. It is weird and forced and awkward.


I’m done crapping on my town and neighbors very noble attempts to showcase water wise landscaping solutions to inspire folks to tear up their lawns and use drought tolerant desert friendly plants. I think its a great idea, I just think the execution was lacking. I’m acutely aware that I’m a snob and a jerk, but I really wanted to be inspired and learn about some new plants or at least check out some innovative ideas while spending a large chunk of my Saturday in the searing heat. The whole tour just wasn’t very visitor oriented. I usually walked around lost and the volunteers ran out of all the plant lists and paperwork so no one knew anything or could answer questions. I applaud people for trying to beautify their homes and inspire others since so many exteriors in this town are in such terrible shape (including my own landscaping – trust me – I know), but come on, all of these were “professional” landscapers homes. Really?? I feel pretty underwhelmed…

I did get one good thing out of it, besides the thrill of real estate voyeurism. Whenever I need to turn that frown upside down, I’ll just remember the elegance of CAT BJ.


Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Wow. You guys have some opinions on porch paint.


To be fair, I thought it might be prudent to show some daytime images to give context to the twilight photos. At dusk the gray looks much darker, but during high noon it bleaches out a bit. I shot some pics real quick like (sorry for the deep shadows, this is probably the worst time to take pictures).

The porch and stairs seem really dark but those are just shadows, don’t let them fool you! In real life it’s more like a darkish mid-tone warm gray.

There isn’t a second coat since we were still debating on what to do. We lived with it yesterday and now today and I think…I like it. Maybe I did have color shock.

Yikes. It really needs a couple more coats. Check out those kitty prints.

Some voiced concerns were:

Heat ||  That cement is getting hot no matter what. Try walking on the back cement porch during noon and your bare feet will hurt. We just know to wear shoes during the summer.

Darkness || There is plenty of light on the porch at night, tripping won’t be an issue. When we landscape we will be adding a pathway and lighting which will help out as well.

Dirt || Yeah, I agree. It’s going to get dirty. No matter what color it is it’s going to get filthy. Mostly from cats walking on it instead of people since our friends and neighbors tend to come to the back entrance to stop by. This is a habit I need to break with unexpected visitors. Sometimes you don’t want people pepping through your back windows, because, say your blogging without pants on or something. Not that I would know anything about that.

The dirt issue will also be helped by landscaping. When our driveway was all dirt, everything was CONSTANTLY covered in a layer of filth. Since we graveled it, that issue is so much better. Now we just have pines needles everywhere from the neighbors gigantor stupid monster tree.

I think I’m going to paint out the rest of the porch with “Intellectual”. I mean, come on, it’s the smart move right? Don’t worry I just punched myself in the face.

BOY 1. ME 0.

You win this time sucker. Stop gloating and go paint the second coat.