Public Holiday at a Retic Bloke’s House

Posted on 30th September 2013 in In My Own Backyard, Just For Fun



So what do you do when your dad is a retic bloke and its a beautiful day outside?…

Grab some black poly pipe, some black plastic and some microsprays and create a water slide… Nice work kids



Posted on 11th June 2013 in In My Own Backyard, Sir Walter Turf, sprinklers

When someone calls us to get to work on their backyard or front yard then essentially what they are hoping for is a transformation – a complete facelift that will have you say ‘wow!’

We don’t often get to go back  and see how our jobs look a year or two later, but this is one job I will stay in touch with because I drive past it every day.

Just 300m from our home is this residence right on the beach in Yanchep. It has had both an internal and external facelift over the last year or two.

Last year we came here and did the retic and turf at the rear, and then today we went back and completed work at the front. Here are some shots from a year ago as well as some pics of how it looks today.











That was last year and here’s today…



brazier back


And then today we did the front





Roam Remote Control

Posted on 25th November 2012 in Controllers, In My Own Backyard, Installations


I managed to get a hold of one of these babies for home the other day. On a quarter acre block it’s a bit of a pain running back and forth to test the stations so a remote comes in handy – and its even better when you need to change a nozzle.

Now its no longer a case of unscrew, flush, test while running back to the control box each time. Now you can operate the controller while standing next to the sprinkler. Much easier!

The remote allows you to operate your stations for a run time that you choose. Its really simple to install and use.

For some reason my first attempt at installation resulted in some bizarre error messages and strange behaviour by the system. The controller worked fine without the remote attached, however when I wired it up I discovered that 3 stations were coming on at once. There was power (23v) coming from pump, the actual terminal in use and two others.

It was a mysterious problem and I thought the controller was at fault, but I disconnected the remote wires and reconnected… and then all worked fine. I’m not sure what the issue was but its sorted now.






Converting From Mains Retic to a Bore?

Posted on 28th September 2012 in bore, In My Own Backyard

Easy to do!

If you have recently moved and are wondering if this is a worthwhile option then my tip is to do it straight away. After 5 years in our last home we began debating the merits of a bore, but knowing we may not stay much longer than another year or two we decided against it.

But when we moved to Yanchep, to a home with no retic it was the first thing on the agenda. And there have been no regrets.

With a bore you get:

– ‘free’ water in the sense that it is not part of your regular watering bill

– 3 watering days instead of two

– a significant capital investment in your home. With water prices rising and 50% of our water being thrown on the lawn and gardens to have a bore is a very smart move.

It does certainly cost you more upfront, but if you are on a decent sized block (say 550sqm +) and intend to stay there for 4-5 years then chances are you will easily recover your costs and finish up with a fantastic looking lawn and garden to boot.

To covert from mains to a bore is a simple process of

a) running the main line from the bore to the existing solenoids

b) wiring the MV/pump to the bore pump rather than the master valve

c) cutting and capping the master valve pipe (or just isolating the retic at the check valve)

d) making sure your system can handle the extra water flow and pressure a bore produces. You may need to join two stations together.

If you would like to change to a bore or if you would like a quote on having a bore installed then give us a call and we can get things moving for you.



Fixing Up Retic and Turf After Excavation

Posted on 13th June 2012 in In My Own Backyard

Ok another post from my own backyard…

We’ve been living in this place for a year now. When we got here the backyard was pretty well trashed so the last year has been spent getting it looking decent.

We had just got there, with retaining walls, done, new turf in, the old turf revived and the veggie patch flourishing.

And then we discovered a soft patch of grass… a soft smelly patch. As I dug down I discovered a leach drain that was full of water. Not good. So it meant that after getting it all looking good we had to rip it all up and start over because there was going to be a huge mess made.

Here are some pics of the mess and the process of cleaning up and getting it looking good again.



Before… just for the memory…


You know its about to get ugly…


Planning where to dig





I had thought of doing this by hand, but they took 7 cubic metres of rubble and grass away and probably filled another 5 back in… That’s a big dig.



The drains go in. Plastic ‘versitank’ style.



Drains complete – 4 hours down… That’s the difference machinery makes. This would have taken me a couple of days.



Filling it all back in.



Levelling and prepping for turf.


And new turf laid where the old was missing…

Now we just need to wait another year for it all to grow back and join up again.

If you have leach drain problems then I can recommend Andy Orford of Orford Plumbing. He was fast, well priced and his digger operator was pretty damn good.

It certainly isn’t rocket science to replace leach drains, but it would be hard work if you didn’t have a decent sized excavator!





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We Chose Velvet Buffalo

Posted on 21st November 2011 in In My Own Backyard, Installations, Installing, Turf

We moved into this place 4 months ago and have been working on the backyard ever since. This is the start of the retaining walls with all the dirt, rubble and rubbish still in place.


This is today

There is still some work to be done, but this is now retained, reticulated and turfed.

We ended up choosing velvet buffalo. Originally I thought we would go for velveteen which is a beautiful soft lawn, but being a cooch variety we ended up deciding not to. We didn’t want the ‘grass in the garden beds’ issue.

So we got some velvet buffalo, a top notch softleaf variety that is available locally.

You can buy velvet buffalo at Joondalup Turf Farm, or you can call us and we will come and install it for you and turn your backyard into something beautiful too.

Here are some photos of it going in…

Weeds and mess about to be cleared, filled and levelled by the bobcat

The bobcat goes to work…

Screeding to get things level

This is my labourer

My kids worked hard today to make the transformation

We can do this to your yard too!




Installing a Bore

Posted on 3rd October 2011 in bore, In My Own Backyard, Installing

We’re still working on landscaping at our own property and the latest project has been to get a bore put down. Once that is sorted we can retic the areas already developed and then get the bobcat in to help us prepare the new areas.

So today Luke from Aqua Attack arrived to drill the bore. It would have taken them a couple of hours but they hit a cave and some of the slotted pipe got lost meaning they had to take a bit longer.

They drilled down 25m or so and will be back on Friday to install the pump and do the electrics.

Here are a few pics of the truck backed up and drilling.

The tub for circulating water and sludge


Adding another piece of the drill


Plunking Under a Driveway

Posted on 3rd October 2011 in General, In My Own Backyard, Installations

So you forgot to have your builder put a pipe under your driveway to allow retic to be fed thru?…

That makes it tricky.

You have two options. If its a paved driveway you can lift and relay the pavers, which will take a couple of hours, or if its concrete one you can ‘plunk’ under. Plunking is a not so technical term for using water to push pipe through. You can easily plonk under paths, but driveways take a little longer.

Its not recommended for full width paved driveways as the water can erode the sand under the pavers and cause them to subside, but for concrete its the only way.

As we are in the process of having a bore installed I have needed to do this at my own place. Fortunately my driveway is thick concrete and the soil is beach sand, so it is an easier option than some others.

I was hoping to plunk right under the concrete and the paving, but I ended up needing to life the small paving section and rejoin the pipes.

The pictures show the entry point (on the low side of the land) and the exit point on the other side of the pavers.


Some tips for plunking:

– make sure your hose is long enough

– cut the tip of your PVC at a 45 degree angle to give it some cutting power

– insert a piece of copper pipe into your hose and crimp it so it sprays a jet of water

– use one piece of pipe as the flanged join will impede progress

– stick at it. You might need to have two or three gos at it over a wide driveway but sooner or later you will get there.

– if you are plunking a main line as I was then consider that you may need to send cable under as well and tape it to the pipe, but don’t be surprised if it comes off in the pushing and thrusting

If you are working with a paved driveway then look for the least disruptive line to lift (remembering that the line beside the kerb is likely to be on top of roadbase).

You may find paving hard to lift so a mattock levered under the pavers may help, or some water sprayed between the edges may free them also.

Once you have lifted them and dug a trench use a trowel and mallet to level the ground and bang them back in. Its better to have them sit one or two ml high and have room to sink than have sit dead level or under the level.






In My Own Backyard – Sleeper Retaining Walls

Posted on 6th September 2011 in In My Own Backyard, What's Going on There?

When we bought the house we were aware that some of the retaining walls were around 20 years ago and had either completely fallen over or were in need of repair.

We were faced with the choice of doing it all again in limestone blocks or rebuilding the sleeper walls. In a perfect world with endless $$ we would have chosen limestone, simply because of its permanence. But limestone was going to cost around $20K installed and sleepers around $1500 (if I did the work). To DIY with limestone it was going to be around $4K but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it alone with the size blocks required. The rest of the house is also timber and we liked the look of the sleeper walls so we thought we’d give it a shot and assume we would get at least 10 years out of the sleepers if not 20-30.


So began the process of building..

I had never built a retaining wall before so it was a new learning curve and as usual google made it easier. I researched the how tos of sleeper walls and then set a line and started digging holes. It is’t rocket science – just a bit of hard work.

The key with the holes is to make sure the post is at least the same depth in the ground as the height of the wall. My wall was going to be 900ml at its highest point so I made sure my holes were 1m deep. I used a long handle spade to get the sand out and while it was a little tricky towards the bottom I managed to get all the holes quite deep by scraping the sand and then levering it up.

Digging was the easy bit. Then came moving the sleepers…

They are 50kgs so not that heavy, but when you need to get them in a specific place and you are working alone it is a little tricky. I slid them onto the top of my wheelbarrow and moved them as far as I could by that means before lifting them into place. Once in place I used one bag of rapid-set around the base and then once set packed the holes with bricks to add strength. I only used one bag of concrete in case the posts need to be removed in the future. It was hard to get some of the original posts out minus concrete so I figured using 4 bags / hole might mean they never move, but it would also require some serious machinery to get them out once they rot.

Some of my reading suggested leaning the posts in towards the wall 2-5 degrees and allowing the wall to adjust the posts as it settled. However I had seen a neighbour’s wall where this methodology had been applied and his hadn’t settled (after 20 years) so I figured I would gamble on a perfectly pependicular wall and resolve the lean problem at a later date if it happened.

I placed the posts in, did the checks with the spirit level and allowed the posts to set in place. I used a piece of 2.1m pipe as a guide to mark the centres of the posts as a set of sleepers would be resting on either side of the posts. I actually managed to drop one post in the wrong place and pour in the concrete before realising and then needed to get it out of the hole. Not recommended… It was a real struggle getting that sleeper back out.

However once the posts are set in place the rest is just grunt work and some levelling. I dropped the first horizontal into place, got it level  and then dropped another 3 on top. The wall stepped down towards the rear of the property so I made those adjustments as I went.

Once all the horizontals were in place I began to fill the area behind the wall with the bricks and rubble that had been left lying around the yard. I figured it would help drainage and also clean the place up – double win.

The finished product looks really good. Its got a great rustic feel and it ties in with the rest of the house. Even better it took me a whole 2 days of time working alone from go to whoa. I think limestone would have taken a lot longer.

We bought the sleepers from Mountain Movers in Burswood and got the 7ft ‘A Grade’ variety at $23.00/sleeper plus $80.00 delivery. As far as building materials go they aren’t cheap and it would have been almost as economical to build the wall out of concrete sleepers – except without the rustic look.

So we’re guessing they will be good for 20-30 years which is how long the originals lasted, but of course white ants could change that fairly quickly.

This weekend should see the completion of the retaining and then its on to getting the levels sorted, before reticulation goes in.






In My Own Backyard – Ok So It Isn’t Pretty

Posted on 5th September 2011 in In My Own Backyard, Local Knowledge

Because I spend my life fixing other people’s reticulation and laying turf its hard to come home and get motivated to put on the boots and start on my own home.

However recently we moved to a new place in ‘old Yanchep’ where there is no reticulation and plenty of work to be done to get the property landscaped. The rear area especially is a mess and in need of a lot of work while the front could do with some freshening up.

I thought it would be interesting to track my own progress with taking our backyard from ‘wasteland’ to ‘oasis’, so if you’re interested in watching a (slow) transformation take place then you might like to follow this series of posts.

It all started about a month ago when I wandered out in the yard to pull up some weeds. It was very overgrown and messy and with spring around the corner I could see the weeds a) seeding and giving us more trouble b) being a great hiding place for snakes.

Half of the backyard with the rubbish and rubble before we moved the chook pen and at the start of constructing the retaining wall

I wasn’t quite ready to ‘attack the whole backyard’  but once I got started on the weeds I realised I had started something that needed finishing. With winter being the quiet time for retic and turf I have been using my time to get some of the bigger projects done around home and this has been the progress so far

a) clear the weeds and make some work possible

b) build retaining walls

c) move the chook pen


The old chook pen and the mess that is currently the backyard

Still to come are:

d) more retaining to be erected / fixed

e) bobcat to clear, cut and fill

f) a bore sunk and reticulation installed

g) turf laid and gardens created


Chook pen moved


The lower wall and new chook pen

Starting on the upper wall