Digging it out

The digging of the graywater trench took me 8 hours and 35 minutes of elapsed time. I am 55 years old, not a couch potato, but also not an athlete. I dug in half hour or hour stretches not more than 2 hours per day. (It was June in Arizona.) After the first 3-4 inches of “Arizona topsoil”, the next 8-10 inches tended to be somewhat hard but not rocky – pseudo-caliche. Below that it was not too painful.
The first step was to dig the two foot wide, two foot deep trench seven feet long. This gave a good point of reference for the sloping sides. Then the sloping sides were carved out. The photo below shows the 2x2x7 trench with the short sloping side. It also shows my (quite adequate) digging tools – pick, hoe, spade, and steel bar with flat chisel tip (good for cleaning up vertical walls on the ditch).

Max depth trench and one sloping side
Max depth trench and one sloping side

The second sloping side of ditch about to be dug. lawn at the side has been skimmed off.

Back slope - top soil skimmed
Back slope – top soil skimmed

These two pictures show the progress of carving out the back slope. The first step is to take the sod and or topsoil off and save it in its own pile. Then the subsoil is removed and placed in the subsoil pile.

After the second sloping side has been dug out

Completed both slopes
Completed both slopes

For this project, here is where the excavated dirt sits.

The pile of dirt excavated from the ditch. It will have to be moved again.

Fellow experimenters should take my time reports with the caveat that I have obviously not finished moving the earth. The plan is to create a raised planter sometime in the future, but we didn’t want that to keep us from moving forward on this project. The photo shows a concrete cylinder that was dug out of the gentle slope. At one time previous owners had a chinning bar in the lawn. Luckily the concrete cylinder was about where the trees will go, so removing it was a good start on the eventual planting site. Beyond the concrete, there is a pile where plugs of grass can be seen. This is the “topsoil” pile (difficult for a former midwesterner like me to call it topsoil). Beyond that is the subsoil pile.

Next: Fill