August 18, 2011

Garden Journal: August 18th

A few weekends ago I decided to rip out some plants in one of the flower beds and start over.  The spot is the farthest part of the yard from the hose and it is too difficult to water so my plants before were dying from lack of hydration.  As you can see from the photo the lawn isn't doing so well either.  (This fall I am going to replant grass seed and apply fertilizer to help it out.)  Before there were iris, lupine, echinachea and grass growing in this bed.  Nothing except for the grass was doing very well.   The area gets full sun in the afternoon and gets very hot.  I needed to plant something here that was drought tolerant and could stand the sun.  I chose plants that could survive on their own, were perennial and needed little care to survive.  I planted a red hot poker, hardy oregano, wormwood, hyssop, wand flower and two heucheras.  I left plenty of space in between each plant to leave room to grow.  Most of them will get a few feet wide. To get rid of the plants that were there before I smothered them with cardboard and added a layer of black forest mulch/compost over the top.  The ground was too hard to try and dig anything out so I chose to smother them. Layering cardboard over the top of weeds is a great way to get rid of unwanted plants without using any chemicals. It also breaks down into the soil and will eventually turn into mulch to feed the soil.  Right now the bed looks great.  And if some weeds eventually pop through I can always add another layer of cardboard in the spring.

Hardy oregano that produces pink flowers

Wand flower and wormwood

Red Hot Poker.  I just checked it today and it is about to send out a flower stalk.  Hummingbirds love these plants

Hyssop and echinachea

Wormwood.  It will eventually create a mound of silvery foliage
I also added a river rock path from the back gate to the deck in the backyard.  Last year I had put a flower bed against the house but it looked out of place and it was in the way of walking to the back door.  I also didn't like to water this spot so plants didn't do to well here.  I decided to replace them with a path instead.  I bought some edging and decided how wide to make the path (3 feet) and then leveled the ground as much as possible.  I covered the path with cardboard just like the flower bed and then put weed block cloth over the top.  Last year I had used just the weed cloth but the weeds and grass still poked through.  Then I shoveled buckets of river rock from the patio near the dining room into the path.  Oz helped me with this, it was very tiring.  Then I lined the path with LED lights from Home Depot.  This area looks so much better now and much more put together.  I love it.  The lights make beautiful star burst patterns in the dark.  So pretty.
River Rock path in the backyard

LED solar lights
The lights at night

They make interesting light ray patterns
This is what the area looked like before the path was put down.  There were a few paved stones leading to the gate and a lot of dead grass.

While I was doing all of this, Oz was in the rest of the backyard weeding and riding the backyard of blackberry bushes.  It was a huge mess but it looks so much better now.  We really let the weeds get out of control this year.  Amazingly it only took him one afternoon to clean them all out.
The backyard weeding disaster.  There was stuff everywhere.
This is how neat and clean we had the backyard last spring.  We rototilled and put in a few vegetable gardens.
Spring of 2010.  There were hardly any weeds after we rototilled and dug everything out.

This is how out of control the weeds were just before Oz cleaned them out.  I could barely walk down the path without getting attacked by blackberries.
After Oz tore everything out. Vinca and blackberry bushes were consuming a large portion of the yard.

He left some blackberries so we could pick them.  After they are done fruiting we will cut them all the way back.

The next day after the yard work.  He was tuckered out.

Here are a few photos from earlier in the garden that I found while I was looking at garden photos.  They were pretty so I thought I'd share them.

A photo of last year's patio garden.  It was very pretty.  I didn't do anything to it this year because there wasn't a hose in this section and I hated dragging the garden hose through the house to water.

Beautiful blooming baskets and pots

This is a photo from earlier this spring.  Brett the squirrel is in the background digging up some nuts he buried there earlier in the fall.

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