Wednesday, April 25, 2012

You'll Never Finish if You Never Start...

I took the plunge on Saturday and started re-working the configuration of the beds in the front of my house.  It was a daunting project for me to begin, and I stood in the front yard with the shovel for quite a long time, consulting my neighbor (okay, procrastinating) before I mustered enough courage to pull out the first border stone.  I knew that once I started I was in for a major project.

Most of my yard work up until this Spring has been concentrated in the backyard.  Last year in the front I had removed some over-crowded shrubs, and in their place started a butterfly garden.  But the butterfly garden is only the peninsula portion of one bed - a small piece.  And I'd tucked a few herbs in along the front of my porch, where they are sheltered -- but you really can't see them.  I'm the only one who even knows they are there.  So, the front yard is due for some attention.

I've been wanting to take on this project for a couple of reasons.  First, the beds were just chock full of 90 degree angles.  To my eye that isn't pleasing; the edges are sharp.  And hard angles are not good Feng can the good chi flow smoothly with all those sharp edges?  :::grin:::  Logistically, too, the hard corners presented challenges for mowing, and coupled with that is my intense dislike for the weed eater.  And lastly, I harbor a dislike for turf.  For needless grass.  And so I'm hatching plans to abolish my lawn, little by little.

Here are two shots of the right hand side of my front yard.  The first one, I have the stones laid in the new border, but you can see where the old border was.  That misshapen "T" area of grass is the area newly included in the bed.

Here's a view from the front, with the mulch circle around the tree that I added a few weeks ago. I wrote about that project just a few posts back...  I was afraid I wouldn't have enough stones to enclose  the circle, but I did - with more to spare.  (Can you tell that I did not excel in Geometry class?  It's too close to math.  Again, put me in your spelling bee...)

My intent was to just do one side of the yard at a time.  However, a neighbor who was also working in his yard all day was kind enough to give me a consult (he designs for a living) said that "we" really needed to do both sides at once, to see how they play off of each other.  At that point I had already dug up all the stones on the right hand side, and was clearly committed (or, ahem, should BE committed, as in, to the Nut Hut) so I went along willingly to the other side, and yanked out those stones too.  I don't know how long the borders had been in place; certainly a very long time. Original? As in 1929 original? I don't know. But they pulled up fairly easily once you wedged the shovel tip underneath one.  But I'll tell you: they are heavy little buggers. I think they are gorgeous though, and I'm pleased to have so many to work with.

I took a stab at laying out the shape of a the new borders.  Lots of stooping and lifting.  (Red later told me he heard a tip about using a garden hose for that - it moves around easily and you can eyeball what the new border will look like.  Alas...)  Then I went and got my neighbor for the umpteenth time, to evaluate my efforts.  (He was far enough along in HIS project that he had a glass of wine. Undoubtedly making him even more creative....)  We scampered around the lawn, moving stones, stepping across the street to survey the changes and coming back to rearrange.  I'd rearrange, and he'd look. (His whippet, Butler Matthew, would lounge inside the new border...)  Then I'd step away for a better view, and he'd rearrange while I looked.  It went on and on.  But I was so grateful for the second eye.  I'm good at the execution, but creative design is not always my strong suit.  (It's Just That My People are Nordic.)

As you've no doubt noted in previous posts, I often forget to take enough "before" photos -- and this project is no different.  I didn't take one single "before" shot of the left side!  But it is easy enough to see in the photos where the old border was.  And I didn't take one single "in-progress" photo.  So just close your eyes and pretend, and here are some 8-hour time lapse photos... lol.

The right side:

There was much discussion about if the border should hug the mulch circle around the tree, or meander down diagonally to the front right corner of the yard.  For now, hugging the tree (Tree Hugger!) prevailed.

All of that grass to the right of new swoopy border will get removed... (Daunting Task #44)  I'm working on giving it away - it's healthy - and it's too much to go into my compost tumblers.
And the left:

To the left of (behind) the new border -- all that mess is just the turf I dug up to place the stones.  The previous border was tucked up under the shrubs,  against their trunks.  (No room there to use the shovel to get the stones pulled out - I literally crawled into the shrubs on my hands and knees with a trowel.  I told my neighbor to come and look for me if I didn't make it out... ) The old border made a hard right at the rosemary, by the gazing ball.)

And this is standing on the sidewalk, looking up towards the house.  That's the edge of my butterfly garden.  I love how the border makes lazy curves like water.

That part of the border used to look like this - photo from 2011.

Oy.  Rigid.

Here's a Painted Lady enjoying a calendula bloom:

My next step will be to pull out the lawn, and start working the beds for planting... I think that work will be much more taxing than pulling and laying the border stones.  But, as I said, I knew I was tackling a large project.  Onward and upward.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sideyard Privacy Trellis Project - done!

Yippee!  The privacy trellis project is complete!  Red and I finished it several days ago, but I've just been too busy to pull a blog post together.  I am several posts behind... Spring is busy.  That's my only excuse...

We got the trellis wires strung, the plants planted, the weeds pulled, and the mulch spread.  I even planted a packet of seeds that were touted to be a "shady mix"  that I had on hand from last year.  I am so pleased with how it all turned out!   For your viewing pleasure...

Here is the path leading out of my pedestrian gate, towards the street:

In the far left of the photo you can see the Amaranth at the base of the tree -- planted by someone before me.  A bit further on you can see one of the 5 Yew shrubs that I planted last fall.  Bright green tips tell me that it's really happy - all 5 are growing really well.  Yay!  And on the right are the yellow and white iris from my friend over in Tarrant County.  They have done their blooming for the season.  And then those 2 little bumps of green sticking up along the curb are the passion flower vines, before they were spread out and twist tied to the wires.

And here is the view of the path a little further on, (taken a few days later) still walking towards the street:

Isn't it a pretty little walkway?  In the forefront of that photo you can see the backside of the trellis with the purple passion vine on it - here is a photo of the front side - standing in my neighbor's driveway:

In this photo you can see that I've spread the vines out, and twist tied the first tendrils to the wires.  It is already starting to reach up to the next wires!  By design, you can't see the wires, but they are every six inches, all the way to the tops of the poles.  The vines also have the added (immediate) benefit of shielding my air conditioner from view.  An unanticipated bonus for everyone...

And then as you are facing that trellis, to your left is the honeysuckle trellis:

That is all one big plant - it is over 5 feet tall.  It is a little sad looking in this photo, (and the lighting doesn't help any) but it is starting to perk up.  I called the nursery, and I think in my attempts to really pamper it, I over watered it.  They advised to back off on the watering, and if it doesn't come back, they said they will replace it.  (But I bought their last yellow honeysuckle, so I'm not sure exactly what would happen.  Hopefully we won't have to find out, because I really don't want to have to un-trellis it and dig it up!)

My neighbors whose driveway runs alongside this said they liked the new look, and among other things that it looks like a "secret garden."  That's exactly what I was going for - a path to a secret space.  Wasn't that kind of them?  I really am glad they like it, because they drive past it several times a day.

It feels good to have stepped up this side of my house.  Other than adding rain barrels and planting the yew last year, I really hadn't done much over here in the nearly 3 years that I have been in the house.  I still want to add these - in an amber color, back in the corner; they will address some feng shui deficiences by adding some light:

Photo/idea credit:
So now I'll pamper these little vines -- hand water with rain water, and feed them, and help them reach for the next rungs of wire... and wait for the butterflies to arrive.