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Posts Tagged ‘Installation’

Codman Academy Charter School in Dorchester, MA occupies a storefront in one of Boston’s low-income neighborhoods, sandwiched between units of affordable apartment housing. Their “playground” was a packed dirt yard abutting a parking lot. The school, which uses trauma-informed design to help at-risk students feel more grounded and safe, looked to the Community Outreach Group for Landscape Design (COGDesign) to create a more appropriate play space. Designer David McCoy of Geographia Landscape Design developed a beautiful plan for a sensory and environmental playground, and A Yard & A Half Landscaping Cooperative was lucky enough to be able to install it. Thanks to COGdesign and Codman Academy for the chance to participate in this exciting project!

empty dirt lot with low metal fence

Play area before construction.

landscape plan

Master Plan by David McCoy

poster from 2nd grade class saying "thank you for building our park!"

“Thank You” poster from second-graders at Codman Academy

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A low wall serves dual duty, breaking the space into two more usable, flat terraces, and creating an informal place to sit. So-called “seat walls” can also enclose a raised bed, lifting plants to a height where we can appreciate their details. Lanterns or candles atop the wall can provide subtle and romantic outdoor lighting.

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After excavation, the crew installs a layer of filter fabric to prevent base materials from mixing with the soil. On top goes angular stone, compacted with a vibratory compactor. A layer of sand provides an even setting bed for the pavers.

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We’re using Brussels tumbled pavers from Unlock, which come in wedge-shaped pieces to form circles and fan designs with minimal cutting. The crew lays out pavers and granite cobblestone accents, and checks the level to ensure that it will shed water.

When the patio is complete, the crew fills joints with a polymeric sand to lock pavers into place and inhibit weeds.

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On day 2, Rene and crew regrade the back yard, using a Bobcat for the rough grading.  They separate out topsoil for reuse on site. This avoids the cost of both disposing of perfectly good soil and bringing in new, as well as the environmental cost of trucking to and from the recycling facility.

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The crew leader lays out a circular patio and walkway.  Lines help to establish the finished level of the patio, and ensure that it will be correctly pitched for drainage away from the house.   At this point, the designer or project manager often visits the site to check the layout and levels.

An assessment of the soil determines whether the standard 6″ of compacted angular base will be sufficient support for the patio.  The crew will excavate to the appointed depth, and 6″ outside of the finished patio area for extra stability.

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Newton back yard before landscape construction

Prospective clients often ask what A Yard & A Half’s installation process is like. We’ll be documenting the transformation of this Newton back yard over the next couple of weeks to show you.

Day 1 – The designer/project manager reviews the entire plan and contract notes with everyone who will be working on site.  DigSafe has pre-marked utilities on site, and we locate these and property lines.

The back yard slopes down several feet from right to left, so we will cut and fill existing soil, and build a fieldstone seating wall to retain the high side. While excavating, we will also be installing conduit for low-voltage landscape lighting and a fountain.

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