The lawn maintenance dudes – I call them lawn ninjas. They are dressed from head to toe, with only an eye slit, to protect themselves from the sun. They come wielding lawn mowers and weed whackers, to keep the jungle on the other side of the fence.
Over this past weekend, I got 12 radials laid out around the tree that will be the future home of my 80 and 160m “TEE” vertical. I know the cut the grass short, so I use a lawn edger and small pick ax to groove the soil, to bury the wire in about an inch of soil. There are currently 16 radials around the tree, all but two in a 100 degree arc as I work my way around the circumference.
Today the lawn ninjas came, with their tractor driven large deck mower. They took out 3 of the 16 radials in one shot. As the mower bounces on the uneven ground, the edge of the deck will dig into the ground, taking out any radial that might be laying there.
Even worse was the sight at the base of the tree. The lawn guy took a sharp turn around the tree, gouging the soil in a 270 degree arc. Fortunately, this was the side where I only have gotten two radials down, made of heavier gauge wire that survived.
I was able to get the three cut radials repaired, but with bare stranded copper wire, once it oxidizes in a few days I will be out of luck. It was disappointing, but something I will have to live with.
What to do?
I first need to drag a bunch of dirt down and place 3-4″ of soil around the base of the tree, out 10ft or so, to try to protect the radials once I’ve got them down. I also need to make a more conscious effort to bury the future radials a little deeper. Another 1/2 inch and the three that were cut would have survived. Finally, I will need to switch to #18 copper clad steel. Not only is it stronger than the #18 stranded I’m using now, it’s still relatively cheap. Another bonus is that I can clean the oxidation off with some steel wool and repair any that get damaged.
I’m going to proceed with the #18 stranded I have now, and get the first 30 radials down. I will probably add another 30 later in the year, using the copper clad steel, near the end of the rainy season in October when the grass won’t need as frequent mowing.