Sunday, 21 October 2012

The front yard: a work in progress

So you probably know that I am not the most accomplished DIY-er. That would be Mark. Which has meant that for most of the things we're doing I have to wait and get directions and instructions from him on how to do things. Not that I mind (ok, I do, a little) but sometimes it's nice to feel confident and capable in what you're doing.

Anyway, this is the front yard of the house when we moved in.
It doesn't really do it for me and I knew when we bought the house the yard would end up being something of a project for me. I like gardening projects so I'm interested to see how it works out. This is probably the point that I should admit that I am kind of harsh when it comes to gardening--I do my homework the best that I can, prep and prepare the plants and seeds as best I can (and as finances allow) and then I subscribe to the darwinian school of gardening: The Strong Will Survive and The Weak Will Perish.

The photo above--that's the yard prior to last week. The more that I looked at the half-assed, dead garden island the more disturbed I got. I don't know if it was because I felt like it was a pile of bad mojo to leave someone else's neglected gardening attempt in the front of the house, or if it was a legitimate nudge from the universe to make me get the energy flowing around the house but I decided I had to do something with it now. Not in the spring.

The front yard is kind of funny. There's that island with the shrub and plant graveyard (and no, it wasn't only because of the season. I saw the house in the summer and it was the same then). And a largeish rock. The rock was IMO the best thing in the "garden".
I'm going to preface the following with this: I am not a landscaper, nor a designer. I've come up with what I can do to the yard to the best of our finances and ability ;P

Anyway, my birthday was earlier this month and I asked for some bulbs & a tree. So we picked up a japanese maple from Lowes on markdown (it was 25% off, making the tree 20 bucks) and a couple packets of bulbs.

After thinking about the limitations of our yard we decided to put the japanese maple on the side of the house. (originally I wanted it in the back yard but it's very, very windy now and I think the tree wouldn't survive. So I went with plan B.

Even on the side of the house it was getting whipped pretty roughly by some winds coming out of the south, so mark and I cobbled together a small windbreaker. (that's blue upholstery fabric nailed to the stakes we bought to put up no trespassing signs). The windbreaker has worked really well so far (tree is not bending over in the wind, and is happier). The rock you see is the same rock from the defunct "garden" in the front of the house. It is a pretty heavy chunk of pink granite. Nice though and it seems to go well with the tree. I rolled it half way there and then mark came along and helped me get it there the rest of the way. We make a pretty good team.

I like the tree and rock because I can see them directly outside my window from my workshop/office.

 OK...Back to talking about the front yard:
Again, there was that defunct garden area, the shaggy hedge and a spindly arm of sidewalk that branched off the main one and half-assedly reached toward the "garden".  If you look closely at the pic below you can see it.

 I'm not entirely sure what that was about, but mark made it clear he didn't like it and we'd be removing it at some point in the future.  I thought that since I was digging up the yard to make room for a couple of flower beds that I'd think about ways to maybe work that piece of sidewalk into the design. However, that didn't gel due to the sunlight requirements of the bulbs. What I did was gather the various rocks and stones from  the front yard and side yard (and what I found as I dug) and piled them up on the spindly arm area. Eventually we'll do something with it but for now it looks better just with rocks piled over it. Not a massive improvement, but an improvement.

Speaking of rocks I am hoping to convince mark that we could paint the sidewalk to look like stepping stones/ flagstones.  He's not sold on it yet...but maybe. ;) If we did it right it would look good, and save us the problem of taking up the concrete. And it probably wouldn't add as much to our property tax valuation, unlike if we used real ones. Maybe. So I edged the walkway so that it was more defined. I'm playing with the idea of either putting rocks along it (might hurt if we slip on ice and fall on them though) or maybe if I can get them cheaply enough some boxwood (small ones though) shrubs.

our sidewalk/walkway

This was the start of my landscaping:

Where I dug was partially dictated by what I found a foot down. Some areas of the property are particularly gravelly, some have clay, and some have really nice, loamy soil. Again, since I wanted things to have the best chance I did my best to avoid the extremes and dug the beds.
the baby japanese maple, the well, and 2 of the flower beds.
You can tell the things that are actual flower beds since I tried to carry on the rock theme and included a rock in each. The bed furthest up in the pic above is filled with a variety of crocuses and rock daffodils so that they will all be pretty small flowers (not supposed to get over 6 inches in height). You'll also notice on all the beds how they have a nice neat edge--that was mark's contribution.
the front beds. New maple tree(19 bucks after 50% off), 2 mums (the little yellow patch), and the big flower bed
If you look at the photo above you can see the rock wall/spindly arm bit I was talking about.
Anyhow, I'm going to be very interested to see how the bulbs work out and what ends up growing aside from weeds. In the big flower bed I planted a mixture of red & purple tulips and white daffodils.  I think I might have snuck a few crocuses in too...but I was bad and didn't' get around to diagramming the beds so only spring will tell me for sure what's where!

And here's a better shot of the hedge---mark made it from a shaggy thing to a roundish thing:

So that's basically what I've been up to aside from helping research stuff that we need (garbage, heating oil, propane, water etc). Now I bet you wonder what Mark's been doing???

He's been doing this:
We were very lucky to have someone give us their old lawnmower. Which was great because we didn't have anything to take care of the lawn with. It wouldn't' run initially, but Mark did his thing....
Got some parts & tools (removed a mouse skeleton) and did some problem solving and got it running again! :D YAY!
Now he's doing this:
Mark's first time mowing at the house!

Don't think that I made him do it. When I asked yesterday if I could mow the lawn he said no. That it was his thing. Girls don't mow lawns! LMAO! He wasn't serious about the girl thing remark, but he was serious when he said it was something he wanted to do. So, ok. I know he;ll get tired of it eventually and then I'll get to use the lawnmower too! :D
While he was mowing today he found the following:
Cool, right???!! A Mantis! Woo!

Not a lot planned on the landscaping front this week: I'm waiting for my wrist to be a bit less painful before I go digging anymore holes. I bothered it when I was helping move the propane tank. Urgh.

That's the update for now!


  1. Looking good, sad bush! Your lawn looks beautifully green, even this time of year. Is that a weeping willow behind your house. I remember my aunt had one in Long Island and it would positively swarm with ladybugs. Of course what that means to a gardener in comparison to a 6 year old dreamer might be a tad different....

  2. Yep! Thats a giant old willow! I hope you're right about them swarming with ladybugs! Ladybugs are awesome for gardens since they eat a bunch of pests! :D