After a month of seemingly non-stop rain, we finally got a break last weekend. Saturday turned out to be an absolutely beautiful day, which meant we were outside working on our landscaping. We have a goal of getting the majority of it done within the next 3 weeks. After that we’ll take a break for a few months and possibly jump back into more work in the late summer and early fall.
Since the grass was the focus of last fall, the rest of our landscaping was moved to the back burner. I’ve become much better at guessing how long things will really take to accomplish, so I’m a little less aggressive these days. As my husband likes to remind me, “Inch by inch, life’s a cinch. Yard by yard, life is hard.” Well, this yard has been hard to deal with, but we are better at choosing our battles. No longer is perfection as important. I should also point out that I am getting better at hiring people to help with some of the heavier and more tedious stuff. One Sunday, a couple of weeks ago, we ventured out to a local nursery to “look” at some trees and plants I was thinking about. Well, long story short, we ended up buying them on that day. We ended up buying five trees and four bushes. The trees consist of two Norway Spruces, two Edith Bogue Magnolias, and one Skyline Honeylocust. We opted to pay the nursery some extra money to deliver the trees and install them. Boy, and I glad we did that. We also had them relocate our existing River Birch tree, as it was previously planted too close to our house. It’s a young tree, so it made sense to move it now while it was still on the small side.
One area that we wanted to add trees was along the road where an old driveway used to run through what is now our backyard. Despite having asked three different contractors to entirely remove the remnants of the driveway, it never really went away. I’m not sure if they weren’t really trying, or if it was just too difficult. The last guys, who installed our lawn, at least managed to regrade the area to allow for better drainage. They put the hydroseed over that area, but the grass never really grew there. I think that there is just too much gravel and huge pieces of old asphalt. Here’s what it looked like a couple of weeks ago.
In an attempt to not have to fight that area for the rest of our lives, we decided to just give up and make it a large planter. Not only will the planter hide the endless driveway pieces, the new trees within that area will also give us a border to our yard and eventually be large enough to give us more privacy. Since we are on a corner lot, our backyard is along one of the roads. We think this pseudo boundary will help us feel a little safer, especially if we have kids one day running around out there. Anyway, the trees were installed about 10 days ago, and even though they are small right now, we are happy with how they look. There is a photo that shows how they look below.
Last Saturday, we knew we had to take advantage of the good weather while we had it. So, we got up early and headed out to rent a bed edger. This is a machine about the size of a lawn mower that you pull backwards along where you want to create a clean edge to planter beds. Having done a lot of the edging by hand last year (which eventually filled themselves back in due to the lack of grass and mulch during the summer), we know this machine made it so much easier! I highly recommend renting one if you have the desire to have the edges look crisp and professional. It worked very well, even in our rocky soil. The only thing I would have done differently, if we had more time, would be to have waited for a few more dry days before using it. Due to the heavy damp soil, the blades would get clogged up with mud. It wasn’t terrible though… just annoying to clean that out every 50 feet or so.
Below is a view of the area where the old driveway used to be. You can actually see it behind the birch tree. It is also evident in front of the birch tree as well… where the soil looks lighter. As you may have figured out, this is the new location of our existing River Birch tree and the new Norway Spruces. The next step here is to remove all of the old grass and add a few plants. After that, we’ll be installing gravel as the mulch, which will wrap the corner where the large maple trees are. You can sort of see the dark line behind those maple trees, which we created along the property line using the edger. Our neighbors told us that think they might widen their driveway up to that line. In order to make mowing the lawn easier and to keep some planter areas for future privacy screening, we will just have a planter run the whole length of the property. We are not sure when they’ll be widening their driveway, so in the meantime we are going to put in a small timber curb to help us contain the gravel. I’ll show that when after we get it installed. The weeds and grass need to be removed first.
Here’s the other corner of our backyard. Just like the other side, the next step is to remove all of the weeds and grass from the planter area. We will add some new plants then have it covered in gravel. This area is where all the water collects when it rains, so gravel is a necessity, as mulch would just wash away.
Here is a shot showing the new planter edges around the patio and deck. This enlarged area will allow us to install stairs coming down from the deck in the future without having to add new planter again. Until that happens, it will most likely remain empty with gravel, or maybe just have a few plants. I would love to build the steps later this season, but we’ll see how it goes.
This image shows the planter areas along the ugly side of the house. I can’t stand the flaw in the foundation wall and the excessive black waterproofing. I’m hoping to screen it all with plants someday, but it’s not as high of a priority. Most of the plants in this area came from my parents with little warning of their arrival. With no time to decide where they should go, we just put them on this side since it’s the least visible. I expect to move these around sometime soon. Something needs to be done as it just looks bad.
Here’s a view of the front corner of the house. We put one of the magnolias in place of where the birch used to be. It’s small, but will eventually get taller without getting too wide. I’m going to work on the plants along the front of the garage soon.
Here’s a close up shot of how the edges look. You can see that the machine cuts a vertical edge along the grass side, with a sloped side into the planter. This will allow the mulch or gravel to stay within the planter without needing a metal or plastic edger. The goal is to be able to mow this edge without needing a trimmer. I’ll let you know how that turns out.
Right now, I’m waiting on our preferred landscape people to stop by to give us a quote to do some of the work for us. I’m hoping they will give us a price to remove all the grass, weeds and rocks from the planters. After that, I will relocate some of our plants and put in some new ones. I am sure there will be some minor weed pulling to do, and I need to put down some Preen to prevent new weeds from coming. I will probably install some of the weed block fabric in the areas that we get the most water, to help keep the gravel in place. Then after all of that, I’d love to get the landscapers back out here to install all of the gravel and/or mulch in the planter beds. I’m just not sure how much they’ll charge for it. With my husband’s bad back and my limited strength, it would be hard to do all of this ourselves within the time frame I’d like to have it done. I’d love it if this was all done by May 20th. But with all of the rain we’ve had over the past several weeks, I won’t hold my breath.