Friday, March 9, 2012


Please read Part I first, posted on March 7th.

I had already informed my neighbors about the landscaping project and shown them photos of the flowers. No one objected but I wanted them to be informed since they would be looking a it every day, too. After the turf removal I had to landscape the soil and dig in a rain garden. I hauled a multitude of wheel-barrels full of soil to build up dirt next to the house (due to water running into my basement when it rained). I made it twice as steep as suggested because I knew that it would compact over time. Plus, I dug out a rain garden twice the size needed since it will slowly fill up. The pile of turf and soil in my backyard grew into a mound. Manual labor is an excellent workout and I felt stronger every day.

It was now time to mulch with wood-chips. I located a company who sold the chips in bulk. It was cheaper to purchase what I needed for the entire yard and get it delivered. I knew that 18 cubic yards was a lot. Felt rather overwhelmed when I arrived home and the pile was as tall as my single-stall garage. I nearly cried. At least it was a Friday and I had the weekend to start moving the bulk. First, I sprayed the landscaped soil with Round Up to kill any weeds or bits of turf that were still there. Second, I scattered a heavy layer of corn gluten meal. Corn gluten meal serves two purposes, it stops seeds from germinating and it is a fertilizer. I hate weeds so this was a positive endeavor. Finally, I started moving the wood-chips one wheel-barrel full at a time. It took a week to get them either into the newly landscaped sunny area, stored in the shed or next to the garage. 162 square feet is a heck of a lot of wood-chips!

After the chips were out of the driveway and I could park in the garage again, I focused on planting the flowers. Due to the huge population of rabbits in the neighborhood and pesky dogs that like to poop in the yard, I erected a three-foot tall chicken wire fence around the new flower garden. Ventured to a local organic nursery and purchased the plants. I procured small six-plex cartons because they were cheaper and I needed a lot of plants. I utilized a standing bulb planter, which I could step on to punch a hole in the ground and reduce strain on my back. Moved aside the mulch and punched in holes one foot apart because I wanted them to grow in close proximity. Lessens the opportunity for weeds to develop, too.

After all the holes were dug, about 200 in the sunny side area or phase one. The yard looked like a corkboard with staggered holes. I used a ruler for uniform placement. I took the plants and placed the shortest growers around the edge but a foot and a half back from the sidewalk and driveway (pussy toes, prairie smoke, etc). I decided to alternate the variety of plant for visual complexity. I had started some short prairie grass on my own (under three feet) and placed one row of grass behind the flat plants. I then deposited the shorter flowers in the next row and worked up the tallest in the back and closest to the house. Three-foot perimeter remained around the house for a pathway. I put away my tools and placed the leftover plants in a part-shade location in the backyard. Watered in the new plants and gave the leftovers a drink too. It was an exhausting day but I was happy that the plants were finally in the sunny side of the front yard. Took a shower and collapsed on the couch.

New plants are very vulnerable so it’s important to give them a drink of water daily. If it didn’t rain I watered them in the morning before I went to work. Plants in the six-plexes were even more vulnerable so I gave them a drink in the morning and when I got home from work. I placed netting over the top of the sunny side and potted plants to keep the squirrels out. They can be rather pesky and dig up newly sowed flowers. Unfortunately, the net deterred the birds that eat bugs but I figured that the tree-climbing rodents were more of a threat.

It was time to start the shady side of the front yard, phase two. I followed the same procedure, dug out the turf, landscaped around tree roots (the boulevard tree and the neighbor’s tree), killed off the weeds, put down corn gluten meal and wood-chips, erected the fence, dug the holes, and plopped in the plants. Obviously, I chose plants that liked part-shade. Exhausted but happy.

Phase three, dig the boulevard. Repeated the steps and choose plants that did well in drought and heat. My boulevard is only couple of feet wide so it dries out very quickly. I could not erect a fence but I did put up wooden posts with streamers to help keep out dogs and their owners. Sprinkled hot pepper flakes over the ground to deter animals and reapplied once per week. I adore dogs. I don’t respect owners who let their animal pee and pooh on plants. The plants are expensive and the animal’s waste can kill, especially when the plants are small and the roots are not established. It really irks me when people let their canines and felines out to roam. It is dangerous for the animal and annoying to the neighbors. My cats stay inside at all times.

The next year I placed the ubiquitous hosta on the north side of the house since they do well in shade. I didn’t want to grow ferns because they often harbor mosquitoes. On the south side of the driveway I had started a patch of short native prairie grass (blue stem et al) a couple years before. It grows well. I added a patch of milkweed, prairie sage and sweetgrass. I pick and dry the sage and sweetgrass and give it to people who can use it. I burn a lot myself, though the cats don’t like the smell. Zozo does want to eat the grass but too much and her stomach gets upset.


Sustain the green.
© 2012 Ima B. Musing

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