Cedar Park First United Methodist Church

Cedar Park First UMC Park Street Frontage Landscape Project

Our Park Street Frontage Landscape Project was begun in the summer of 2018 as a way to improve our care of God’s creation and to make church access more convenient for parents of small children. Our goals for this project are to blend well with the other existing landscaping on our property along West Park Street; eliminate the mud problem for parking in our Multi-Ministries Building parking lot; shield the 4 HVAC units from view from the street; retain all native live oak trees and large pine tree; use plants, trees and shrubs which are native varieties, drought tolerant and deer resistant; screen the view of our shed from the street as much as possible while allowing for clear access to the shed front door; and make our frontage an inviting view from the street.

YouTube Videos of this project.

Current status 15May19: We are now 100% completed with the project. We completed the demolition and excavation phases in late January and February. We have installed the rip-rap pathway adjacent to the building and a small patch of rip-rap on the east side of the building. We finished installing the soil, trees and plants on March 22 and the drip line, boulders and stone bench on March 25. The irrigation system is 100% installed. It was connected to our Wi-Fi network on March 28. It is now programmed and fully operational. The congregation mulched the entire project in a couple of hours during our Spring Work Day on March 30. Weed removal and seeding took place on Wednesday, May 15.

The only thing to wrap up is:

June – Dedicate the project to the Glory of God

Preparing and Seeding the Front Lawn

May 15, 2019, was the final construction day of our Park Street Frontage landscape project. Following two months of waiting for the weather to warm up, today our new front lawn was prepared, seeded and watered for the first time. The intervening weeks between clearing and dirt spreading saw several days of rain, so the crop of weeds was pretty profuse. It’s nice to know that the lawn area can grow good weeds. It should grow some good Blackjack Bermuda grass as well! Carlos and his team showed up with their mini-rototiller which seemed well-suited to the task of removing the weeds which had sprouted. After about 8 hours of tilling and raking, the lawn area was ready for seeding. It was a beautiful day, but it did get hot and humid in the late afternoon. Seeding commenced in the late afternoon and was done in about 35 minutes using a combination of hand-held and traditional spreaders. They spread 10 lbs of Blackjack Bermuda seed over the 5,185 square feet of front lawn. We held out one 5 lb bag of seed. They will come back in 2-3 weeks and hit any bare spots with additional seed. After some testing, we set the water to come on for 10 minutes for each of the 4 lawn zones, 2 times a day until the seed sprouts. We will adjust the watering schedule to make sure the seedbed does not dry out or get any pooling. Mother Nature will probably have something to say about this as well. Fortunately we have a “smart” water controller that stops if it rains or has a high probability (>80%) of raining in the next 24 hours.

Mulch Arrival and Mulching Party March 29th-30th

The Mulch arrived just before 9 am on Friday the 29th. The first load (14 cy) was dumped in the Multi-Ministries Building (MMB) parking lot in a convenient location. The second load (7 cy) was dumped near the Park Street sidewalk farther east. We immediately got to work mulching the MMB parking lot beds.

On Saturday, our Spring Work Day got a great start on Saturday, March 30th as 26 people showed up at the church to spread mulch and move furniture. Work began a little before 9:00 am. Par  had the coffee and doughnuts ready when we arrived and Debra provided everyone a nice lunch at 11:30. The last bit of the mulch pile was finally shoveled up and spread out at 2:07 pm. In between these times a lot of changes happened both inside and outside the Sanctuary building.

A huge crew of 16 mulchers joined the mulching party, mostly church members, but a couple of volunteers from the Girl Scout troop we host, Zack and Olivia showed up as well. We spread the mulch from east to west on the new landscaping. First attacking the smaller pile of mulch, then moving on to the big one. The results were excellent. Mulching the new landscape was done by about 11:15 am. Now that the new landscape was completely mulched, we realized that we still had a lot of mulch left. After a short break, we kept mulching, starting in on the parking lots beds, all the parking lot trees and ending up with the bed in front of the Multi-Ministries building. I think that Whittlesey gave us a lot more than 21 yards of mulch! Jerry, Neil and Dan stayed to the bitter end as the big mulch pile was finally gone at 2:07pm.

Drip Line Boulders and a Bench March 25th

Today was yet another Big Day of progress for our Park Street Landscape project. We estimate that we are now 95% complete as of 6:15 pm this evening.

Drip Line

ECO Irrigation arrived onsite today about 10:40 am after an early morning that looked more like rain than the sunshine that it eventually turned into. They began with the MMB beds and worked their way east, curling the drip line around each plant and securing it to the ground with landscape staples. We asked them to fix the broken irrigation mainline. It is the 1” pipe that had a edging spike pounded into it. This was all necessary in order to run and check the operation of the new portion of the irrigation system.

When they fired up the controller after repairing the pipe, it would only work when the master valve was manually turned on (by twisting it). They diagnosed that the master valve actuator was bad, so we authorized replacement so we could test the system. The installation was fairly simple. Remove the 4 actuator hold down bolts and bolt in a replacement actuator, basically a solenoid valve and housing. It worked. Once all the key irrigation system pieces were fixed, they tested each zone in the new system. We witnessed and made videos of each zone working. They then began programming zones 15-23, the new zones to water twice a day running the sprinkler zones for 20 minutes and the drip zones for 45 minutes each. The lawn area zones, 16-19, have zero run time since there is no grass planted yet for them to water.

Boulders and a Bench

We got a call about 4:30 pm that our landscape crew was coming at 5:30 pm to install the boulders and build the bench. OK. Sounds good. We got there about 5:40 pm and they had already brought up several smaller boulders from the back. Our landscape crew had apparently hired a friend with a John Deere tracked skid steer machine to do the work. There were about 8 guys around while all this was going on, so it was like a mini-Fiesta as they worked. They were starting to work on the bench. They used the skid steer with a front bucket to transport all the limestone stones to the bench area and set them using mortar and small rocks as “shims” to keep everything level (videos). They did not bury the first stone completely below grade, so the bench is about 4 inches taller than designed. We can fill in more dirt around the bench if we want to make it a shorter bench. We will measure it tomorrow to see how much we might have to fill. They jury-rigged two T-poles to install the bench seat, a 650# slab of limestone. It looks just like the design, pretty much. We will have to see it again in the full daylight. We might want to have it power washed. After they finished the bench, they brought up the remaining boulders and placed them in the MMB beds. It was all over before 6:30 pm.

Big Tree, Steel Edging and Boulders, March 23rd

The landscape crew was onsite during the late afternoon Saturday, March 23rd. They got the Big Tree installed as well as the steel edging. The boulders sourced from our own property are now marked for extraction and installation in our landscape in accordance with the landscape plan.

Planting Day, March 22nd

After one day’s wait following arrival of the plants and offloading the Big Tree yesterday, Planting Day finally arrived! The Landscaping crew arrived at about 8:15am and immediately began planting the Texas Mountain Laurels. Time to finally fill up those holes they dug two months ago!

Transport & Arrange

The first step in the planting process was to transport and arrange the plants according to the landscaping plan, making some adjustments for final placement. This was crucial and we were asked to give an opinion of where things should go, which we did. One Executive Decision we made while doing this was to move a bunch of Webberville Sedge from the area just to the east of the bench location (see plywood panels) to allow for denser massing on the west end of that bed. This is a departure from the landscape plan. We can adjust later if our irrigation contractor decides to put the nozzles in or we can leave it open for future expansion of our own once we get the drip line installed. Our Welcome Bench is located where the plywood panels are laid.

Plant ‘Em

The second step is to  actually plant all 283 specimens from ornamental trees to native grasses and everything in between. This is the most tedious part and took all  the rest of the day. They  finished this up about 6:30 pm. They ran into rock (surprise?) on the east MMB driveway bed, so they brought in an electric jackhammer to help out with the planting.

A Dose of Water

Finally, the third step is to water all the plants in to finish the planting job. The only plant they did not plant yet was the Big Tree. That will happen when they have some equipment or more workers onsite for moving the boulders and building the bench.

Plants and Trees Delivered – March 20th

All 283 plants and trees , except the Monterey Oak were delivered at 8:15am on Wednesday, March 20th. We couldn’t figure out a way to get the 1500# tree off the trailer with only two people and no equipment. So we took delivery of it the next day on March 21st when we had a crew of about 10 people on hand and some ramps rented at Home Depot. The slide down the ramps took about 3 minutes once we had everything set up. Thanks to everyone who showed up to help us do that unloading!

Dirt Placement – March 18-19

We  got going with the dirt placement around 3pm Monday, March 18th. The landscape crew arrived and began moving the easternmost pile into the planting beds. They also shoveled all of the excavated dirt into the beds first before they layered on the new dirt (42cy of Whittlesey Professional Mix) on top. Tuesday they finished moving most of the dirt in the first pile (18cy) and proceeded to dirt pile #2 (also 18cy)  on the east side of the Multi-Ministries Building (MMB) driveway. I noticed that they only put about 3 inches on the beds, then they began spreading some dirt for the lawn area. Soon thereafter the crew started piling up more dirt on the beds. I think that we will get close to 6 inches depth there. This will make planting easier since they wont have to excavate as much into the original packed soil. At around 4:30pm, they had everything on the east side of the MMB driveway piled up and they still had about 6cy left in pile #2. They had not done anything west of the MMB driveway yet, but that work got done some time later in the evening. The landscape crew did a really nice job!

Dirt Delivery – March 15-16

We drew some lines on the ground in preparation for the dirt delivery on Friday to show drivers where we wanted the dirt dumped. We had previously checked these locations with Carlos to help minimize the transport labor. Whittlesey delivered the dirt (Whittlesey Professional Mix) for our landscape project Friday and early Saturday morning. The first 6cy came at about 1:15 pm on Friday. The truck was the same driver who delivered the crushed rip-rap a few weeks ago. We had him dump the 6 yards near the west bed. The other two 18cy loads could not be delivered on Friday due to the volume of deliveries that Whittlesey is currently doing, but they came early Saturday morning around 7:45 am. We were there to meet them and direct traffic on Park St while they made the dumps. We had some 2’x4’ plywood pieces to protect the underground sprinkler lines (we hope!) as they backed over it to make the dump.  These DTs were much larger than the truck that delivered on Friday, so it was harder for them to maneuver for the dump. The first guy did pretty well and put the load right where we had marked it. The second dump farther east near the water meters was not as accurate and the driver backed over a sprinkler head, but we think that it’s OK. At least he got the dirt pile pretty much in the right place. So we had minimal shoveling to get the pile overflow off the sidewalk and street. We should now be ready for Nacho’s crew on Monday morning, 18Mar19. We can block off the west driveway, if necessary, to give the crew complete freedom to work unimpeded. Our Child’s Haven preschool is on Spring Break next week. The plants and trees are scheduled to be delivered at 1:00pm next Tuesday, 19Mar19.

Rip-Rap Installation

Carlos and one helper were onsite 20Feb19 to install the landscape fabric underlayment, metal landscape edge and 6 yards of crushed limestone rip-rap.

Irrigation System Installation

ECO Irrigation completed the irrigation system design on 13Feb19.

We reviewed and approved the design on 14Feb19. Installation began that same day. A slot opened up due to a cancellation and 14Feb19 was irrigation system installation day. The crew from ECO Irrigation and Landscaping  arrived about 8am and worked until past 5pm. They still had a couple of hours of work for the next day. Their truck was complete with all the parts they needed: Ditch Witch trenching machine. It can only do so much. When it hits rock, they have to resort to manual methods of digging. Their boring machine cutting a path beneath our west driveway (rather than routing pipe around the periphery. It took about an hour and a half and required water to get by a tough spot in the middle. Carlos holds the business end of the boring machine in one picture. Carlos was the crew leader. That’s him on the boring machine.

Jack-hammering limestone in the pipe trench was a time-consuming task. Another boring photo just before they made it through to the other side. Laying a mainline, gluing pipe and pipe laying happened very quickly and efficiently. The Makita electric jackhammer got a workout. Pop-up irrigation spray nozzles were standard. The new controller box will replace our old one in the same location. The new controller is so smart that we will have to take a course to understand how to operate it. It can change water profiles based on the weather and weather forecast. Red control wire is on the ground. Zone Control valves and piping around the sign are finished. Just a few more hours on Friday. They still have to lay all the pipe on the west side of the driveway and install the control panel and the under-driveway connection. They will return again in several weeks (after we have the trees, shrubs and ground cover installed) to lay the drip line, install the spray nozzles, test and program the controller and set up Wi-Fi access to the controller.

Excavation Phase

On 28Jan19 in the afternoon, the landscaping crew began excavation for the project. They focused on the rip-rap path next to the building. It looks like they excavated a little extra for the rip-rap path against the building.

On 29Jan19 we marked the outlines for the various planting beds. We scaled the dimensions off the landscape plan using various points of reference on the building and curbs. Then we went back and marked the locations of the holes to be dug for the 5 ornamental trees (Texas Mountain Laurel, TML).

The landscape plan calls for a group of three TMLs to shield the shed from the road. The TML holes are 32” in diameter and 22” deep for these 15-gallon specimens.

They have pretty much finished digging/jack-hammering the holes for the 5 Texas mountain Laurels. As of this morning, they had not yet started on the big hole for the Monterey Oak on the west side of the driveway. Here is the bed for the 100 gallon Monterey Oak. According to the landscape plan, that hole is 80“ in diameter and 27” deep.

The landscaping crew was back on 31Jan19 to continue the excavation phase. We will have to provide safety barriers around the holes they dig. The landscape crew has continued to dig the tree holes the last couple of days.

They also apparently brought in a grass removal machine yesterday afternoon to do the lawn prep. They have raked up and carted off all the thatch and are spreading excavated soil out over the lawn area. We will add more topsoil to this later before we plant the lawn, so I think that they are getting a little ahead with the lawn work.

Demolition Phase

Demolition of the existing landscape and fencing for our Park Street Frontage landscape project began 29Jan19 around 0830. Within a couple of hours they had it all pretty well removed.

Final Landscape Plan

Plants in the Final Landscape Plan — Information and Pictures

Trees, Shrubs, Vines and Ground cover Botanical Name
1 Monterey Oak (MO) Quercus polymorpha ‘Monterey’
2 Texas Mountain Laurel (ML1.5) Sophora secundiflora
3 Agarita (AG) Berberis trifoliata
4 Bamboo Muhly (BA) Muhlenbergia dumosa
5 Big Muhly (BM) Muhlenbergia lindheimeri ‘Big’
6 Compact Texas Ranger (CS) Leucophyllum frutescens ‘Compacta’
7 Fall Aster (FA) Aster oblongifolius
8 Giant Turks Cap (TC) Malaviscus arboreus drummondii
9 Green Cloud Sage (GC) Leucophyllum frutescens ‘Green Cloud’ TM
10 Pink Skullcap (SK) Scutellaria suffrutescens
11 Rock Rose (RR) Pavonia lasiopetala
12 Gregg’s Mist (SB) Eupatorium, Conoclinium greggii
13 Texas Sotol (TS) Dasylirion texanum
14 Twistleaf Texas Yucca (TY) Yucca rupicola
15 Webberville Sedge  (WS) Carex peredentata ‘Webberville’
16 Wood Oats (SO) Chasmanthium latifolium

Final Landscape Plan by BLA (colorized, Sheet L-1 only) (PDF, 2.85MB)

Final Landscape Plan by BLA (B&W, Sheets L-1 and L-2) (PDF. 1.34MB)

Park Street Frontage Landscaping – Project Plan and Cost Estimate (Trustees access only)

Scope of Work – Excavation

Scope of Work – Install Lawn

CPFUMC Questions and Comments on the Preliminary Landscape Plan (Google Doc)

Preliminary Landscape Plan by BLA (12Jun18) (PDF, 1.09MB)

As it was on March 18, 2018. Just a little over a year ago!

Trustees Guidance (Google doc)

Google Street View (March 2017)