Removing overhead electrical wires and installing two 250-amp services through my two gardens

It had to happen… but what a disaster. Nothing went wrong with the install. As a matter of fact, the electric company was very respectful of my plant neurosis. Really, not a single plant was damaged. I did have to transplant serveral in my shade garden because they had to bring in a trencher and dug down 4-feet… and all that dirt had to go somewhere.

But let me start at the beginning…

The studio was converted from a tack room to an art studio. And along with that, we put in an air conditioner and other appliances that were drawing way too much power from a 60-amp well service. Without question, we had to upgrade the service. While we were doing it, I thought it would be best to remove the overhead wires that were an eyesore (complete with two tall utility poles.) Thankfully, there was pretty much a straight line through grass from the transformer to the subpanel. I moved a few plants but nothing really major… except one 6-foot-tall oleander I had grown from a cutting. I did take down my cedar bed but I was planning to do that regardless.

overhead electrical wire buried underground and the cedar bed is no more.

In addition, I wanted to add a new service to a 2500 square foot quonset hut so we can use it as a workshop. We were tired of running electric cords from the house and disconnecting all the time to run another piece of equipment.

Because I wanted fewer overhead wires and not more, I opted to have the new service run underground as well. That one was a bit tougher because I had quite a few more plants to move including two 3-foot azaleas in bloom, a camellia, another azalea, a cat palm, aloes, a triostar stromanthe, some small viburnums, night blooming jessamine, and a bunch of Hawaiian ti plants. Here’s the are that got “trenched.”

For the most part, the trench was dug through a driveway, except the 40-feet through my woodland garden. Really, only one plant was in the way of the ditch… but the electric company needed a 10-foot clearance to place the piles of dirt on both sides of the trench. Worked out for bulbs, but not for anything with an above ground presence.

The one part of the project that had me most concerned was them removing the “telephone” pole. It is a 30-foot pole buried 4 feet into the ground up against huge agave and a thriving vitex tree. Fortunately, I did not have to move them. They had a crane. The man in the bucket wiggled the post at the top until it became loose in the sugar sand. Then he chained it from the top and hosted it up vertically. A helper directed the bottom of the pole away from my plants and they laid it down in the pasture area they had just filled in. They asked me if I wanted to keep it … and I knew my step-father would want it, so we kept it. Hopefully, I don’t regret that decision.

Once I decided it was time to upgrade the electric, I hired the best electrician on the planet, Carlos Martinez. He worked with the county to get the permit and the electric company to install the new service and bury the wires. We decided to do this in December and the job was completed the week of Feb12. I say the week of because it took a day to install the subpanels. A day to get those inspected. A day to trench both underground utilities. And another day to run the wire and remove the posts. We still have to have the final inspection but the job is done.

I must say it was not without incident… as we had no idea where our plumbing was buried. We knew about where it was and informed the tractor man that he would hit it in the general vicinity… which he did. He hit it so hard, not only did it bust where it was impacted, it also busted at a juncture across the drive that we had no idea existed.

We never thought we would be out of water for a week in the main house (not on the rest of the buildings on the compound). Poor Joe did all the work… and it just happened to torrential downpour for two days while he did it.

And, we’re still without a water heater. Sand got in the pipes and made a huge disaster and now our instant hot water heater isn’t working. We made sure we flushed the lines before using the dishwasher and the washing machine. What a disaster! However, once we get power in the barn, it will likely make up for all the chaos.

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