Erosion

 

Erosion.  A never ending problem in a climate of sudden downpours and hilly country.  But there are always answers.

The Problem

Erosion is the natural process in which run off water cuts channels in the earth, taking earth and debris down with it. It is the way in which rivers and lakes are formed. Water takes the path of least resistance downhill to the sea and overtime that becomes rivers. That is amazing if you own an enormous plot of land where such a water feature would add to the value of your property, but in all likelihood you’re a home owner on block of land. A river forming in your block will result in drainage problems, hideous looking lumps and your valuable top soil going into your neighbours yard. People at the most risk are those who live in hilly areas, such as up in Samford and Dayboro. In particular if the sides of your hills are bald or steep.

The Why

There are three real key reasons why controlling erosion is important.

  1. Insurance. Erosion comes under the banner of maintenance for most insurers. If your home is water damaged in a storm and there was erosion evidence prior to the event they can deny your claim and pay you absolutely nothing! Just like you have to look after the roof and attend to basic problems yourself, you need to care for your yard.
  2. Aesthetics and resale value. Erosion is unsightly. Unsightly causes the value of your property to plummet. Home improvements shows drone on about this because it’s true, people buying a home overestimate how much it will cost to fix common issues. They do it because they don’t want to bother with it themselves. So their time and effort is factored in. Don’t let this become a problem!
  3. Dangerous to others. We’ve all had an experience at one time or another where we’ve gone into a lovely, inviting yard and suddenly face planted. Why? Because we’re not conditioned to expect our laws to be free of pot holes and lumps so we throw caution to the wind. I challenge you readers to think of the last time you wondered if you had to be careful traversing someone’s non rural yard. Probably years right? It is important to have this dealt with immediately lest you cause some poor person to fall over in your yard.

The How

Every problem needs a personal solution, there is no one ‘correct’ way. But generally we start by redirecting the flow of water where possible. It needs to head away from your valuables and homes over all else. After that we carefully slow the pace of the water by spreading it over a larger area. This seems counter intuitive – water over a larger area? The larger the area the more water that is needed to cause damage. A truly prestigious amount of water is required to cut into a large area. Once the area is large we reduce the number of turns. Turns allow water to collect, defeating the point of spreading it over a large surface. Is that isn’t workable, pipes, culverts, rockeries and other types of drains are investigated.

If you have an erosion problem, give us a call!.

Rainy day care

So we have had a few weeks of wild wet weather which makes this a great time to look about your property!

Everyone waits until summer to buy an air conditioner

We all wait until the last moment to deal with a problem. If you’ve ever had to book an air conditioner mechanic at the start of summer like I have you know just how long it can take for them to just come look at the problem – let alone fix it. (For me it was two hot, sweltering weeks). The same can happen after a big wet like the one we’ve just had.

Erosion

Erosion is caused by soil runoff after rain (or heavy wind, but that isn’t much of an issue where there is grass cover). Over time as soil is run off, gullies and holes form. If these get big enough, they eventually become a drainage issue and will undermine the surrounding area causing instability. Not to mention how it will effect your property price. Buyers always overestimate how expensive things are to fix, and Erosion can be quite cheap to fix. Caught really early it can be as simple as laying down gravel or mulch in the right places.

Leaving erosion alone will not solve any issues. Up in Dayboro, Samford and the surrounding areas we often see rockslides on roads after big rains. We all know why of course, when the roads were cut decades ago the builders paid no mind at all to ensuring that there was sufficient erosion control on the bare cliff faces. Now whenever we get decent rain the rocks simply fall lose. This can happen in your yards as well!

Drainage

Drainage problems are often caused by inadequate pitch or slope in your yard diverting water away. What this generally means is you want a 2 or 3 degree slope on your lawn direction water away from 1. Your house and hopefully 2. your entire property. If this isn’t done, than water will either flow into your house (or other areas you don’t want water in) or will sit stagnate on top of soppy ground. This is generally why you shouldn’t see actual flat yards. You want to move the water to a lower point in the yard. Working with the land to create better run off into storm drains is better than building your own drains or basins. But it’s important to get on top of it early lest you have to go to more drastic earth moving solutions.

Over time leaving the issue will lead to any number of problems. It will create unsightly bogs, undermine foundations and damage parts of your property.

A stitch in time saves nine

Don’t wait until your yard looks like this! Erosion control, Drainage and Stone Walls are our speciality. We are experts are preventing disasters like this from occurring. You will save many thousands of dollars with swift preventative action and taking control of the problem before it spirals out of control. Serious issues like this can even become your neighbours problem!

So send us an email or give us a call if you think you’re suffering from Erosion or Drainage problems. We will look into it for you and help you devise a plan to stop it getting out of control.

What is Sandstone made out of?

Lion’s Head Stone – Nambia

We at Stonehenge Walls use Sandstone in the construction of our retaining walls, but have you ever wondered how they are made and what they are made of? Given that we use it every day we wanted to find out.

The What

Basically all rocks in the world are made primarily of the element Silicon. Silicon is our 3rd most common element (after Iron and Oxygen). Given that almost all the Iron is in our molten core and the Oxygen is captured in water and air it makes sense that all that is left for rocks is Silicon. Silicon itself is a very versatile element, it’s raw elemental form makes it look like metal, but throw in some heat and oxygen and it turns into Quartz. Add a little Sodium and Aluminium (or a few different combinations) and your Quartz now becomes a Plagioclase Feldspar, or a complicated word for what makes up the base of all rocks.

Quartz

Now if you’re still with us after that science lesson, we can talk about what Sandstone is actually made up of. Most Sandstone is made up of crushed Quartz and Feldspar. A cool result of this is Sandstone becomes extremely weather resistant. Have you ever noticed how Sandstone walls and buildings don’t seem to change after decades? That is because as Sandstone is water permeable (as in soaks in water and lets it pass) anything that could be picked up by water already has and you’re left with an extremely resistant rock. Which is exactly why we use it at Stonehenge Walls to build our stone retaining walls.

Feldspar

Colour is determined by what is in the area when the stone is quarried. Iron Oxide turns Sandstone red and given Australia’s huge iron reserves it makes sense that most of our sandstone is yellow to red. Purplish Sandstone exists for example, and is caused by the addition of Manganese while the stone was forming. You can even get blue Sandstone if there is a significant amount of Silt and Clay where the sandstone is found.

The How

Sandstone is a sedimentary stone. That is a type of stone that is formed over time with new material being added to the top constantly in layers. This means a volcano didn’t explode and form sandstone, it took a long time. Once the material, normally Sand for Sandstone, has stopped moving it is given the chance to compact down. With enough time and pressure, along with a natural cementing agent such as calcium carbonate (Shells of marine animals, snails and eggs) or Silica (Oxygen and Silicon) it forms the stone.

The most common places for Sandstone to form naturally are Old Glaciers, Rivers, Lakes, and Deserts. Places that provide a huge amount of pressure and are relatively stable. It is commonly thought that the Ocean floor is almost entirely made out of Sandstone for the obvious reasons of having access to huge amounts of Calcium Carbonate (shells of marine animals) and the huge amount of pressure the ocean provides. It would be very interesting to see that stone used in Retaining Walls.

Cleaning a stone retaining wall

Retaining walls are meant to be as decorative as they are practical. To maintain their beautiful aspect it is important to clean and wash the stone several times a year. One of the benefits of stone walls are their low maintenance, but low maintenance does not mean no maintenance. Over time the stone will accumulate dirt, moss and grime. But it is extremely simple to clean this off entirely. All you need are the right tools.

Tools

  1. Pressure Washer (unless you plan on doing a lot of washing, it is better to rent a good quality washer rather than buying a cheap one)

Alternatively:

  1. Kitchen Brush

Prep

Thankfully there is little prep needed for cleaning stone retaining walls. Essentially the area just needs to be cleared of any debris and if any vegetation has grown over the side that needs to be pruned or moved before continuing. You don’t want to plaster broken down plant matter over the rocks instead of cleaning them.

Pressure Wash

The fun part is using a massive pressured water stream to blast dirt off the rock wall. If you’ve never used a Pressure Washer in the past, don’t worry it is easier than it looks! Simply read the instructions that come with it to set up the device. Basically all your need is water, petrol (if it’s petrol driven) or a long extension cord if it’s electric. Now for the fun part! Pick an end to start with, and do each rock from top to bottom. It’s important to start from the top, as you don’t want dirt covering recently cleaned rock again! It’s a great cleansing feeling to watch all that dirt run down. Be careful not to spray any grass or dirt. It will go absolutely everywhere if you hit it with anything.

Alternative: Brushing

Now I don’t recommend this over pressure washing, but with the drought in the outback and a growing concern for water conservation some might not feel comfortable using it to clean something for aesthetic purposes. Using a a kitchen brush and some elbow grease is a good alternative, and an amazing workout! As you might expect, it won’t be as thorough a clean unless you also use a steel brush but the goal of using a brush is just to get the worst of the dirt off.

The technique is simple. You pick the end you want to start, I suggest the end you will see more often as effort can sometimes drop off as you get closer to the end. (Manual labor is hard). Then from that end, you choose a rock and meticulously scrub the brush. Remember, your goal is to remove the worst of the dust rather than all of it. If you plan to do this over the course of several days, you may not remember what rock you finished with. I recommend using a small piece of chalk to mark the rocks you have finished.

 

How to dig a hole

Call the municipal government to verify digging the area is safe. Whenever you are digging, you must always first consult your local utilities authority about the underground utilities layout, especially if you live in a suburban or even semi-rural area. Digging into the layout isn’t just disruptive but potentially lethal if your shovel comes in contact with anything electrical. Even in the mildest cases, a lot of hassle can be bypassed if you contact the proper authorities first. Remember the words: “Call before you dig.”

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