Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thank You Richland County!

Just thought you would want to know that our home recently won the Water Wise award in this year's Appearance Counts contest from Richland County.

Each year Richland County issues awards to attractive yards in the area and this year they added some "Green" categories.

We won for our rainwater collection and irrigation system and rain garden. If you missed those posts, you can see them at:

http://switzergreenhome.blogspot.com/2009/08/irrigation.html

http://switzergreenhome.blogspot.com/2009/09/rain-garden.html


http://switzergreenhome.blogspot.com/2009/03/solar-water-rainwater-harvesting-and.html

http://switzergreenhome.blogspot.com/2009_07_01_archive.html

Our award included a nice certificate, a garden party at the county administration building, a poinsettia plant, and a $25 gift card to Woodley's Garden Center.

So thank you Richland County for recognizing our efforts and for encouraging "green". And thanks to our builder Jay Rogers, our architect Bob Bourguignon, and WP Law irrigation supplies for all your work and assistance.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sometimes going green means going black!

Thanks Richland County for sponsoring the recent compost bin sale. And thanks architect Bob Bourguignon for picking it up for us.


Richland County recently sponsored a compost bin sale at the Sam's Club on Harbison Blvd. and our architect was kind enough to pick it up for us on his way in to see us. (That, of course, saved us from having to burn fuel and greenhouse gases during a 30-minute drive.)



Composting is a great way to keep garbage food out of the landfill and turn it into fertilizer for your plants. A good compost bin has slots in it for air, a lockable lid to keep critters out, and anchors to hold it to the ground. Ours came with a bucket for the kitchen that has an airtight lid to keep out the fruit flies and a turning rod to occasionally stir up the compost giving it more air which speeds up the process. There is a hatch door at the bottom that locks and easily opens later for shoveling out the compost.


We put our new compost bin between our two raised vegetable garden beds and are looking forward to pulling the food out of it to feed our veggies next spring and summer.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Termite Control

When we planned our new home we also knew we needed termite protection once it was built. Our builder researched "green" methods and found only one that fit the bill: Sentricon. Gregory Pest Control in Columbia recently cam out and installed the system.

The Sentricon® Termite Colony Elimination System was introduced in 1995. Rather than saturating the soil with liquid chemical solution, it uses termite bait, manipulating termite biology and behavior to destroy the termite colony.

It is the only termite control product ever to earn the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award, one of the federal government’s top environmental honors.

Green Chemistry Challenge
  • The Sentricon System uses only a few grams of active ingredient on each property, compared to the hundreds of gallons of chemical solution used in a traditional liquid chemical treatment.
  • The active ingredient in their termite bait is targeted specifically at the molting process in the termite’s life cycle, a process not present in mammals.
  • The bait is strategically placed in Sentricon stations around the perimeter of the house.
  • The premier bait used in the Sentricon System was the first termite treatment active ingredient accepted for registration by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the strict requirements of the Reduced Risk Pesticide Initiative. This distinction is based on its low impact on human health, low toxicity to nontarget organisms (birds, fish and plants) and low potential for groundwater contamination when compared to other commercially available termite treatments.
  • The beauty of the Sentricon System is that the termite bait works just slowly enough to be spread throughout the colony before termites catch on.
  • Several times per year, Gregory Pest Control will come out to monitor the Sentricon System for termites, bait to eliminate termite colonies and then monitor again for any new termite colonies that might invade the area. Each bait tube has a bar code to make keeping track of the termite activity easy.
  • Gregory Pest control also crawled into our comfortable air conditioned and padded crawl space and sprayed the underside of our house with Tim-Bor, a borate. Borate treated wood is on the rise as a safe and long-lasting method to protect homes from wood destroying organisms. Borates prevent fungal decay and are deadly to termites, carpenter ants and roaches - but safe for people, pets and the environment. Borates interfere with termites' metabolic pathways when ingested through feeding or grooming, effectively killing them. Surviving termites avoid the protected wood products.
So we are locked and ready against termites...


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Great Publicity for "Going Green"!

While we were traveling the past two weeks, The State newspaper's Kristy Rupon and photographer Erik Campos did a wonderful article on our new home. In case you missed it, here is the online version which includes more photos than the actual paper did.

Enjoy!

http://www.thestate.com/local/story/960600.html

We're hoping this will help increase interest in green building in our state...Thanks Kristy and Erik!

Our next step is the visit from the termite man: Tim from Gregory Pest Control. He came out and inspected the house recently and will soon be installing the environmentally-friendly Sentricon bait system.



We'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Rain Garden

We are hitting the home stretch on our green home project and have finally finished the rain garden. For those of you who don't remember, a rain garden is an ecologically sound way of dispersing excess rainwater on your property. In our case, the excess rainwater comes from our underground rainwater collection tank that is fed from all of our roof gutters. It only takes two inches of rain to fill our thousand-gallon tank so we must be prepared for it to send water through the overflow tube into our backyard.

The area it overflows to is the rain garden, which must contain plants that can handle both floods and droughts.





The building of the rain garden was a multi-step process:

1. Dig a three-foot deep pear-shaped hole, 8' wide by 12' long.

2. Make sure the hole is contoured to slope away from the house.

3. Re-fill the hole with a 1.5' layer of river gravel followed by native soil conditioned with manure and mulch.

4. Plant the plants and lay a ground-cover of mulch.











The plants you see here are up to that task:

Blue Flag Iris
Soft Rush
Southern Shield Fern
Milkweed





We're almost done with all the landscaping. As you can see in these pictures, we have started on Maggie's raised beds vegetable garden.

Stay-tuned...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

More Native Plants!

After two months of looking at the mulched construction waste in our yard, we decided that a covering of local pine straw would look best. Although we are glad we did keep a lot of construction waste out of the local landfills and we know the mulched leftovers will eventually provide food for the dirt, we are definitely happier with the look of the pine straw.



The native and/or drought tolerant plants seen in these pictures are:

Virginia Sweet Spire (native means regional by the way)
Daylilies
Butterfly Blue Scabiosa

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Walkway is Finished!



With a little help once again from our friend Glenn and his daughter Caitlin, we started on the walkway around to the back of the house. The first step was clearing the path, then digging the trenches for the brick edging, then laying the landscape fabric (made from recycled plastic bottles), and then finally spreading the river gravel.






Quite a chore, but doesn't it look nice!



Monday, August 10, 2009

Irrigation!



Here is Mike putting in the drip-line irrigation.
A fun and exciting activity, especially in 100 degree weather!



The native and/or drought-resistant plants shown here are:
daylilies
clethra
beauty berry
sweet shrub
piedmont azalea







Monday, August 3, 2009

With a Little Help from our Friends...

We're still very busy planting. We were fortunate enough recently to have our friend Glenn and his daughter, Caitlin, offer their help. Even our dog, Mackenzie, wants in on the fun!




Shelby and Caitlin put the Adirondack chairs together for our brick patio after Shelby had filled in all the spaces between the bricks with dirt/clay.



Glenn has a funny hat but we'll certainly let him come over and help again!



Plant list to follow soon. We're still waiting on the nursery to deliver more plants that have been out of stock. Right now we're busy preparing the walkways for the river gravel which was delivered recently...stay tuned...



Thursday, July 30, 2009

The patio of reclaimed bricks...

After looking at the pile of reclaimed bricks our builder found for us many months ago, we finally were able to start laying the patio. After leveling the ground and laying the weed-control fabric down, we decided on the herring bone pattern for the bricks. Shelby and Mike laid most of the bricks (which we forgot to take pictures of), and then Mike and Maggie started spreading some dirt around the patio border and in between the bricks.


/


The dirt came from the rain garden which was dug out by a backhoe a couple days ago. The dirt was placed where our vegetable garden will be.





Eventually, we'll be through with all this back-breaking work!


Monday, July 20, 2009

The Work Continues...


We had some pieces of the old clubhouse pergola left over and so we made an arbor to serve as the entrance to the side and back of our house.





The Cobblestone Homeowners Assn. finally approved our landscape plan and so we have finally started planting. Over 90% of the plants will be native plants which will not only help towards our LEED certification but will also survive and thrive because they naturally do so in our area's climate and soil. The next several blogs will start listing the different plants.



We are also making headway on the rainwater harvesting tank irrigation system. The pump has now been hooked up to the valves that will feed the drip lines which will be used to irrigate all the plants, bushes, and trees. We should have everything planted over the next few weeks and then we can install the drip lines. We also ran a pipe to send the air conditioner condensation water to the underground rainwater collection tank.



We have also hooked up to the rainwater harvesting system a garden hose for the hanging baskets and deck planters. And as you can see, we've also been busy staining the deck and railings.




Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Still Work to Do...

Here's the latest view from the golf course. You can see that the area below the deck has now been finished. It is enclosed with treated dog-eared fence board. We plan on staining it and the deck and railings with a natural stain and wood preservative.



Below you can see that the second pergola has now been re-assembled onto it's new location. For those of you new to the blog, the two pergolas we have were once one big pergola that was on top of the old clubhouse at Cobblestone. We were allowed to rescue it before the old clubhouse was razed. Our builder cut it into two pergolas and re-assembled them for us. The pile of bricks next to the pergola were also reclaimed and will be laid into a patio below the pergola. We just recently finished sanding and pressure-washing this pergola and are starting to re-paint it.




The other pergola is on the rooftop terrace. It will be cleaned and painted next. We just installed some solar lights on the railings on the rooftop terrace.



We also used the leftover foundation bricks to make a walkway from the deck to the pergola/patio.



We have submitted our landscape plans to the Cobblestone Homeowners Assn. and are awaiting their approval. Once we receive the go-ahead, we will be very busy planting and installing the dripline system from our underground rainwater harvesting cistern. The plants will be over 90% native and drought resistant, both prerequisites for our LEED certification.

Stay tuned!