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Hi there! I’m running a few small experiments “in the real world” and, in the event that someone wants to learn more about it, this page is here to do the trick!
I am a firm believer in small, iterative experiments. If you have thoughts on any of the experiments on this page, feel free to let me know next time you see me in person, or leave a comment (if you use Github) or tweet at me or send me an email or a letter or whatever.
A Fence Made Out Of Pallets #
I have a small, somewhat anxious, barky dog that likes to “defend her turf”. She cannot be let in our front yard without a leash, as she will run after other dogs. She’s generally harmless about it, but an ill-timed dash across the street could be very dangerous.
When we’re taking her places, or have our garage door or front door open, she could get into the front yard. Since we’ve moved in here over a year ago, it’s something that had me low-level concerned, but was manageable.
Then my daughter Eden was born! She’s adorable, and cute, and juuust starting to crawl. She’ll be mobile soon, and I think about how unfriendly Iowa street could be to a toddler. I also think back to hearing my next-door neighbors often concerned about their four-year-old in the front yard, whenever he happened to escape the fenced in area in their back yard.
I want to save myself that stress. To the degree I’m able to make my yard safe for children and dogs to be in it unattended, we gain a bunch of convenient flexibility for our entire property, and a measurable reduction in stress! Our front yard will become a hangout spot, we’ll probably leave our front door open more often for the breeze etc.
So, enough about why fences are convenient. There’s many other benefits I’m starting to see, and I’ve not even finished the fence! As I type these words, I’m only a few pallets in; I’m getting more pallets as Bart and Whitney at Buglet Solar get extra pallets from solar panel installation jobs. (Thanks Burt and Whitney!)
There’s more I could say, but this will do it for now.
If you want to follow along, feel free to punch your email address in below - I write semi-regular emails to that list about whatever I feel like, and you’ll hear about these experiments more there. Punch your email in below: 👇
A Check-log retaining wall #
For many reasons, I think a lot about erosion mitigation, water runoff mitigation, water catchment, healthy soil, and more1. I have a whole backlog of blog posts ready to go about that. I’ve done substantial earth moving around my own house, because when we bought it we had terrible problems with water in the basement.
I’ve so far fixed most of the problem, just by moving a little dirt around. It’s improved so many things, and now I’m experimenting with “retaining walls”, but made out of logs instead of concrete or treated wood.
Feels like I am channeling @simonsarris with trying to clean up this part of my yard.— Josh (@josh_works) June 27, 2022
I found a hidden retaining wall!
I'm doing some experimentation with something called a 'check log berm'. pic.twitter.com/qo6LNehwmi
Check logs will improve soil health, too. Here’s more about why it might matter: The secret world beneath our feet is mind-blowing
Related Reading #
- A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction (Center for Environmental Structure Series)
- How Rainwater Harvesting Transformed My Front Yard Garden
- Here’s a Quick Way to Terrace a Hill
Colorado is a very “outdoors oriented” state, with many walking paths. Part of what I’m experimenting with these check log terraces for is to see if they could be suitable for spot-fixing gnarly sections of climbing trail access paths. They encourage ecosystems and plants, so I could see it simultaneously preventing erosion from rain and foot traffic and encouraging vibrant plant life because of the water retention, moisture retention, and “self-fertilizing” effect of the decomposing logs. At a larger scale, wherever there are dry creek beds, it might be suitable to try something similar to improve water retention: low-cost ways to improve water quality and wildlife habitat in Greater Cincinnati’s creeks. ↩