Landscaping Is Art

For some reason people seem surprised when I tell them landscaping is art. Well it is. The tools are the brushes, the material is the paint, and the land is the medium. If you're about to hire a landscaper that is not a self proclaimed artist - BEWARE!

A simple explanation of this is - The bobcat skid steer is the artist's main brush. The first thing a true landscape artist learns is how to weld. The reason for this is - if you can't repair your own equipment (brushes), you won't be painting or sculpting landscapes for very long. Steel wears out on buckets, parts get worn out and break. Behind the scenes, there is much welding that takes place in order to keep the landscape artist painting. So for the artist, there must be a love for landscaping, but there must also be a love for steel. I love steel so much that I even like the way raw steel smells. 

On a few occasions, my clients let me do something special for them. In this case, my client allowed me to do her entire front yard landscape design and installation, but also allowed me to build her a new mailbox. 

If you think about it, a mailbox is functional art. Everybody has one and it gets used just about everyday. Surprisingly, most are boring, ugly, dented, leaning over, and from 1970. That's 43 years old folks, time for an upgrade.

This particular client allowed me to build her a mailbox of my choice. All that she asked from me was that it would be pretty and simple. Below are the before and after pictures of her new and improved - updated 2013 mailbox. I don't think she's ever been so happy to get bills in the mail. She liked it so much, now I get to build her a matching trellis. Fun!



People I Admire

Notah Begay III - "Without fear you can't have courage."

Click here to read about Notah Begay III

Lao Tzu - "The Great Integrity has given us three treasures to cherish:
The first is love.
The second is moderation.
The third is humility."

The14th Dalai Lama - "In 1951, I was 16 years old. I had not completed my religious education, I knew nothing about the world, and I had no experience in politics. I found myself leading a nation of six million Tibetans faced with imminent war against communist China. It was an impossible situation, but I had to do everything in my power to avert disaster."

Dan Taylor L.Ac.  - Not only has Dan been a friend since childhood, but he offered me medical advice in 2012. To stay healthy, he also introduced me to Qigong "chi-gong", which is an exercise that keeps me healthy - body and mind. If you practice Qigong long enough, you will eventually be introduced to "The Way". Besides Dan's friendship, this knowledge has meant the most to me. For more information on Dan, visit him at

Eroded Driveway Repair



This is a special material that is a bit hard to find/ purchase. A good contractor will know what this is and how to apply it properly. A really good contractor can apply this in even the most remote locations. 

Filling in an Abandoned Pool with Fill Dirt

Below are some pictures of a pool I recently filled in. This was a medium sized pool that swallowed up over 100 tons of fill dirt. 

If your going to do this work yourself, make sure to go downtown and get a permit. When your inspection is completed, you can take the paperwork to the tax assessor and have the pool removed from your yearly tax bill. If not, you will be paying for a pool that doesn't exist anymore!

Plus, if you ever sell your house, you will be passing this erroneous tax bill to your potential home buyer. If the buyers agent/ Realtor is good, he/she will find this phantom pool while pulling a records search...potentially becoming a deal breaker.

Other nasty real estate repercussions could arise if the pool fill in is not recorded correctly such as lawsuits, especially if the work was not disclosed in SPDS (Seller Property Disclosure Statement).

Save money, time and heartache by having a licensed contractor do this work. Preferably a licensed contractor that has filled in many abandoned pools. i.e. Tucson Bobcat.

There is a method to this madness!


How to Build a Shade Canopy

Okay I admit, I'm addicted to shade. Things could be worse. And yes, I can't stop. We live in the desert! The heat seems like it gets more intense every year and I need some relief from the sun... like now. This blog is a step by step DIY instruction of how to build a two sided shade canopy, but you can apply these steps to just about any canopy configuration.

Step One:

Take accurate measurements of the space you're wanting to cover. It's a good idea to take an alternate measurement of a slightly different configuration that you would be happy with, just in case your first size request is not available.

Step Two:

Draw your design. Or you can come to my store (check home page for this weeks schedule) and we'll draw up your canopy ideas on a dry erase board. You always want to build your shade canopy around the size of the Shade Nets that are available. A common mistake is to build your frame prior to doing any research on Shade Net sizes. Don't do that, you'll find yourself doing double work.

Step Three:

Figure out your budget and make adjustments to your plan if need be. A good rule of thumb when it comes to canopy pricing is to expect to pay between $1.30 - $2.30 per sq. foot. This pricing is for all of the materials needed including tax. The bigger you build your canopy, the less you pay per sq. foot. If you add sides to your canopy, which is a great idea, you will need to add the total sq. footage of any/ all sides including your overhead shade to your total sq. footage calculations.

Step Four:

If you purchase your shade canopy from Tucson Bobcat,  I will make your life easier by pulling all of the parts you need based on your design. When you get them home, lay out your parts by separating them into like pieces. Also, the following is a list of tools that you will likely need, most of which I sell at my store. Hammer, screwdriver, a tool for cutting metal ( I sell a quality grinder/ cutter at my store for $23 or I charge $1 per cut), a level ( I sell magnetic levels for $4–15 depending on the size you want), and a small ladder or step stool. 

Step Five:

It's always helpful to have two people when building a canopy, but you can manage it by yourself too. I always build canopies from the ground up. Start by placing your foot pads or foot stakes in the correct locations. Double check your measurements and then use your hammer to drive stakes into the holes of the foot pads at a diagonal to help resist them from loosening during a strong wind storm or if your using foot stakes like the ones in these pictures, make sure to place a scrap piece of wood on top of the stake to cushion the blow of the hammer when driving it into the ground, otherwise you will severely dent/ damage the rim of the stake. Do your best to install the foot pads vertically level.

Step Six:

Install the conduit metal legs of your canopy into your foot pads. Don't worry about leveling these yet, and don't do any tightening of the set screws. Then install your top corner pieces and assemble your roof framing. When the complete frame is assembled, take a minute to look at the configuration and make sure it's in the right location.

Step Seven:

Take your level and start anywhere on the frame making adjustments so that eventually the legs and the roof are level both vertical and horizontally. Hand tighten the set screws as you're leveling. When your finished, I always like to double check the leveling one more time on every piece of framing, and make final adjustments. When leveling is complete, and all set screws are hand tight, take a screwdriver through the eye hole of the set screw and turn it about 3/4 turn clockwise. Don't use all of your might when tightening or you'll strip the threading. The set screw just needs to be securely snug. If you are concerned with the screw backing out on its own for whatever reason, use liquid “Loctite” or wrap the threading of the eye screw with Teflon prior to tightening. 

Step Eight:

Hang your Shade Net onto the canopy frame. Start by using ball bungees on the corners. Each corner uses 2 ball bungees, one going in each direction. There are other lesser products that can be used to hang your Shade Net to your frame, but ball bungees are definitely the way to go. Ball bungees are easy and fast to use, and allow some give during high wind storms, which will add life to your Shade Net and will apply less stress on your frame. 9” ball bungees are the easiest to work with and can be wrapped around your frame conduit twice if you need to make them smaller. After the corners of the Shade Net are hung, I will usually skip every other grommet installing ball bungees, often moving around to all four sides of the canopy trying to maintain equal tension on all sides. You can lightly pull on the Shade Net to make adjustments, but don't use all of your force to stretch the net if your framing is to big. If that is the case, you are much better off taking some extra time to trim some of the conduit down in size and re-leveling the frame, than to destroy a net trying to stretch it past it's limits.

Step Nine:

Enjoy your shade. Not only will you be cutting out about 70-80% of sun light, but you will also eliminate about 90% of the suns harmful UV's.

Now Selling Raw Honey - Holly's Little Farm

I'm not sure why selling raw honey makes me so happy, but it does. I feel like I'm providing a gift of health to each person that purchases a jar. Not only does it taste great, but it can make you feel better.

All honey is gathered from Tucson and surrounding areas. "Among allergy sufferers, there is a widespread belief that locally produced honey can alleviate symptoms — the idea being that the honey acts like a vaccine. Bees that jump from one flower to the next end up covered in pollen spores, which are then transferred to their honey. Eating that honey — just a spoonful a day — can build up immunity through gradual exposure to the local allergens that can make life so miserable for allergy sufferers." NY Times

The flavors change seasonally, so make sure to visit Tucson Bobcat regularly to get your fix. Currently, inventory consists of Mesquite, Salt Cedar, and Desert Blend for $11.00 each.

Canopy Awning with a Valance and a Retractable Shade Net Curtain

If you're wanting to build a shade structure, specifically a Canopy with a Shade Net, but you are concerned that the look is not classy or modern looking enough, you will want to take a look at the pictures below.

This is a 10' x 22' Desert Tan Canopy structure with a built in valance, using a 10' x 16' and a 10' x 6' Shade Net. The retractable curtain is a 8' x 20' Shade Net. This structure looks like big money, but in fact, it's 380 + sq. feet of precious shade built for under $600 (material cost).

This structure provides privacy, and completely blocks the house from getting beat down by the west setting sun. This Canopy lowered the temperature of the inside of the house considerably, not only cutting down on costly electricity air conditioning expenses but also making the living space much more comfortable. This canopy structure will likely pay for itself with in the first 1-2 years. 

Below are pictures of part of the frame and the finished Canopy. Notice the retractable curtain. Sweet!

All Purpose Shade Net - Doesn't Mean Cheap!

Most people don't know the history of my retail store building. When I was handed the keys, there was chain link fencing wrapped around the entire building, blown out windows, termite infested everything, two front doors that were 6" apart from each other, flooring that was doing the wave, an electrical system that I swear had phone wiring used as a repair, and the list goes on, and on, and on.......... and on. I'll find an original picture and will edit this blog with it ASAP.

I worked on the building to get it to it's current state for 1 year in the afternoons and whenever else I had extra time. (I can't forget to mention and thank my buddy Roger V. for his many hours of help!) I was paid $0 for my efforts to restore the building, but materials were graciously provided. To this day, I am very thankful for the two persons that gave me this opportunity. I'm sure there was easier ways to achieve the same result, but easy is not always best. Some things in life, especially life changing events, need to be earned. The sense of ownership in business is priceless. Just go ahead and try to pry me away from this building. GOOD LUCK!

So being that this building doesn't have a concrete foundation and was built on wooden skids in the 50's when east 22nd street was a dirt road, the building has been sinking for years. I've been slowly pouring a concrete stem wall / sidewalk combination all the way around the building to stabilize it. Each concrete section needs to be excavated underneath the edge of the building by hand. A toe down needs to be dug, areas compacted, and special attention to grades and utilities considered.

Finally after 2 years, I have come full circle, 360 degrees all the way around the building with concrete. I'm in the final stretch and of course it's 100 degrees outside. Picking and digging by hand is no picnic. Since in my world Shade Nets are at my finger tips, I decided to show you how easy it is to make your life working outside in the desert heat a bit easier.

I used two 8' x 10' All Purpose Shade Nets ($17.99 each) and six 9" ball bungees ($.75 each) to hang this temporary shade structure, protecting us from getting beat down by the sun. This took me less than 5 minutes to hang to the building and drape over the wall. Not only does this Shade Net  provide protection from the sun, it also allows laborers (that being ME and Brandon) to work harder and faster. Believe me, heat will suck the life out of you or your contractor faster than you can imagine. And waking up at 5am to beat the heat isn't always an option. So next time you have to work in a isolated area, hotter than your oven set on low, spring for a couple All Purpose Shade Nets, your skin will thank you. And "All Purpose" doesn't mean the Shade Net is sub par, it means they're priced to sell. The blue trim isn't the prettiest, but let me tell you, these All Purpose Shade Nets are some of the toughest made. I've been beating one up for over two years already, mistreating it on purpose to test it's structural integrity and it shows minimal to no signs of fatigue or weakness. 

Below, is Brandon doing a pretty good job of leaning on a shovel.  This picture doesn't do him justice. He's a good worker and digs more by hand than anybody I know.

Attaching a Shade Net to a Shade Sail & Newton's 3rd Law of Motion

With the summer heat teetering around 100 degrees this week, I decided I was going to install some much needed shade where I park my vehicle at my store... tucson bobcat.  I was somewhat avoiding this project because I knew the installation was going to be very challenging and time consuming.  Most shade projects go together pretty quickly and painlessly, but this install was different. I was going to attach a Shade Net to a Shade Sail.

Customers were asking to see the Ocean Blue Shade Net that I recently fell in love with, so I wanted to show her off... right there in the hardest location possible. The right hand side of my parking lot, tucked into a tight corner, with limited anchor points and adjacent to an 18' Triangle Shade Sail. I had contemplated building a custom fit canopy instead in this location, but that idea was quickly nixed as we often drive heavy equipment through that area, and anything built on the ground would be in the way.

From my experience hanging a complex 1000 sq. foot Shade Net structure over my service yard, I knew there was a technique to hang a Shade Net with the use of multiple ropes, using triangular configurations to create a frame. Similar to how a spider spins a web, you can string a web of ropes together to build a support frame for a Shade Net where each grommet is being used.

The biggest difference here was that I needed support from the corner of a Shade Sail that was being pulled in the opposite direction (see middle picture). This marriage of the Shade Net and a Shade Sail was as unpredictable as two "A-listers" getting hitched at "The Little White Wedding Chapel" in Vegas. Just ask Britney about it. Quickly I said my "I do's" and was bound to make this marriage work. Besides, in my opinion, this color blue is the most beautiful of all Shade Nets especially hanging in our desert environment. Bold? Yes. Daring? Yes. Cool? Very.

Note, that when installing a Shade Net, they are not meant to be stretched with rope, especially not stretched by just the corners only! If you want to stretch a shade product tightly and by the corners, buy a Shade Sail. They come in triangles and squares. Rectangles need to be special ordered. Shade Nets have grommets and are meant to be hung on frames of some sort.

As mentioned, the installation of any third shade product in this location was going to be difficult, and though this rope configuration looks simple, it really tested my patience and will power.

With risk comes reward and this install was no exception. Keep in mind, I was working 15' feet up on a ladder and by myself. So honestly, I was just happy to get the net up properly without falling off the ladder. Phew~!

As you can see, I have used a rope to build a frame to support the Ocean Blue Shade Net and each grommet is being utilized. When installing, I did my best to apply equal tension on each grommet in order to distribute the stress evenly, likely extending the life of the Shade Net. Notice in the above picture how the corner of the Ocean Blue Shade Net is being supported by the Desert Tan Shade Sail. This created all types of problems.

Sir Isaac Newton's "Third Law of Motion" had to intervene. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. That being said, the mutual forces of action and reaction between the two bodies (that being the Shade Net and the Shade Sail) are equal, opposite and collinear. The result is that the Shade Net changed how the Shade Sail was originally hanging, causing a large wrinkle that I could not live with. The only solution was to make an adjustment to one of the Shade Sail's mounting locations in order to make this configuration hang properly. Lucky for me, the necessary relocation was not a deal breaker.

Shade is dictated by the suns location based on the season, time of day, and the angle that the shade product is directed. Due to the Hooligan's that try to cut my rope for no particular reason near the city sidewalk, I was forced to mount my anchor points for all three products so high and out of reach that the angle is not perfect. Otherwise, I would have anchored the southern end low and the north end high, which would have provided the ultimate in shade effectiveness. 

The above picture was taken at about 9am, on May 8th. Starting at about 11am through sunset, this configuration casts a cooling and protective shadow on my retail store parking lot for any of my customers to enjoy.

All of these products are relatively inexpensive, provide immediate shade relief and they look good too! If you are considering hanging Shade Nets, Shade Sails or both, the sizes, colors, and shapes are plentiful and I try to stock them all. Come on in and see my selection, I'm certain you will find a combination that fits your liking.

Tucson Rainwater Harvesting using 275 Gallon Storage Tanks / Totes

I enjoy learning from my customers on many levels. Since my store often links us together, our conversations are often about how a customer intends to use one or multiple products that I sell in my store. Some people like to open up. When these conversations get going, I am like a sponge. Especially when the information is coming from an experienced and/or educated person.

In this case, a doctor purchased two 275 gallon water tanks to collect rain water to service his pool. This is the first time I spoke to anybody who collects rain water to replenish a pool caused by evaporation. I asked if he would be willing to send me some pictures and he did.

Below are two tanks totaling 550 gallons that are linked together using PVC. If you look closely he has added a wood frame around each tank. He then installed a composite wood facade, and painted it a similar color to the slump block blending the tanks into his environment. Pretty ingenious, I would say. Even though this water harvesting unit services his pool, it could just as easily water his surrounding plants, and / or a nearby garden. What I like best about this unit, is that he has built the rain gutter with a clean out.  Here is a explanation from him...

"The system is set up so that the first flush off of the roof with the dust and dirt goes into the down pipe. Once that is full, the rain water will then start flowing into the tanks. After the rain stops and no longer drains off the roof, I can open the cap and drain out the dirty water that is in the down pipe.

Ours is an old pool so we have to manually turn on the water to fill the pool. To use the stored water we just use a hose off the tanks to gravity feed the pool. We did this the other day using the water we stored from the last rain we had in Tucson and the system worked just fine


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