Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Yard–Vol 2 Issue 1

I should have been taking pictures all year, but I guess I got distracted. Or lazy. Or discouraged because the yard has just been really awful…

We’re coming up on two years, and I’d say we’re doing a pretty good job, compared to where things were last year.



The Front Yard

Current Condition: We planted Rose of Sharon in the circle planters in the sidewalk last summer. They are full of blossoms, and just beautiful! Last fall I put down weed barrier fabric in them and piled IMG_2129rocks on top (the rocks we removed from that awful pond). I’d say it’s been doing a sufficient job of keeping the weeds out of those beds, although I was having to pull a few every now and then. I added some more rocks this week, so hopefully that will cut down even more on the need to weed those things. The flower beds still look mostly like weed infested boxes, although the corner bed by the fence in the front is my berry garden! I have two raspberry bushes, two blueberry bushes (which didn’t produce at all this year!) and about 15 strawberry plants.


above: strawberry plants – with little yummy strawberries!


Left: a blueberry; Right: raspberry bushes


Left: Spring Deutzia; Right: Rhododendron


The hibiscus I transplanted from the backyard last fall didn’t make it, but my Sprint Deutizia really took off and is promising to be a nice focal point in that bed. I also added a purple rhododendron, as well as a forsythia. The rhododendron is blocking the sprinkler head from watering the corner where the forsythia is, so we’ll have to raise that up. I also have a bunch of irises in that bed, and in early spring I had tulips and daffodils and hyacinth, but I dug everything up because I wasn’t completely satisfied with the layout of my bulbs. I’ll be redesigning in a few months and I can’t wait.


The bulbs and rhizomes in the small bed under the tree didn’t do very well because they didn’t get a lot of water. We’re thinking about adding some drip irrigation or a bubbler or something to that bed to help those plants get some water. That will go along with the sprinkler overhaul next spring.


I have a nice clump of irises in the middle of the U-shaped bed by the driveway, and a few random snap dragons came up over there, as well as a lot of ground covering that I have been trying to keep at bay. It’s actually been nice because it keeps the other weeds at bay, but we’ll eventually get rid of that and just lay woodchips in all the beds.


Only one of my azaleas made it after last summer, but seemed to be pretty healthy this year. Unfortunately that’s the only thing in that flower bed, which makes weeding a headache. Farther to the west of the house I planted a dwarf snowflake which had a few pretty little white blossoms. I can’t wait for it to get a little bigger. I also put in a photinia, but it didn’t get water in the corner and so it dried out.



The lawn, while mostly thick, is still having problems with weeds. They are everywhere. We did get some seed coming up in the bare spot in front of the tree, but now we have two dead spots in the grass where we think the sprinklers aren’t reaching. It’s been a pretty hot summer, so we’re pretty sure that has something to do with it.

Goals for Next Year: First and foremost is the sprinkler system in the front (and hopefully in the back, although I don’t think the back needs nearly as much help).IMG_2144 We’ll be adding bush sprinklers/drip irrigation to some of the flower beds.

Also, we’ll be pulling out the curbing back in the north west corner by the fence and laying seed there. It just doesn’t get much sun, and I already have 5 other flower beds, I really don’t think I’ll miss that one. And since all that is growing in it right now is weeds, it will be a nice change.

We’d also like to get all the beds covered in mulch to help with weed control. The weeds just get seriously out of control. And I think I might be over watering. We’ll play with the watering next spring, too.

As for the lawn in the front, we’ll be focusing on weed control and even coverage with the sprinklers, as well as some more over seeding. But we’ve really got to get those weeds under control!




The Back Yard

Current Condition: We haven’t made a whole lot of progress on the backyard this year. Our attention has been really focused on the front yard.

Goals for next year: our main goal will be deck repair. You can’t see all the damage in these pictures, but the deck needs some serious repairs, and will need to be treated and stained. We probably won’t have funds for that until next year, so I am hoping it doesn’t get too much more damage this winter. Last winter was mild, thank goodness, so damage was minimal. And the dogs are mostly off the deck (Doc is an inside dog now, yay!) so they aren’t increasing the wear and tear nearly as much.

Another goal is renewing the lawn, either by seeding or laying sod. We still have some okay grass growing back there, but I think the sprinkler system needs some overhaul. Also, we are going to work on removing the rocks under the deck and adding sod under there as well. There are already sprinklers installed, so we’re pretty sure that grass (a very shade-hardy variety) will grow under there. Under the deck probably gets a good 3-4 hours of sunshine a day in the summer.

The corners where we removed curbing earlier this year need to have weed removal and hopefully sod will be laid there, too.

We still need to fix the rain gutters and add a rain barrel. And we’re going to put in a sandbox under the deck (just below the window). Since the kids already play in the dirt we figured we’ll give them some actual sand so they won’t be so dirty. My dream will to be to have this backyard green and dirt free. There’s just so much dirt back there!




The Vegetable Garden

Current condition: Yes, it looks like a big weed patch… the sprinklers that we installed were sprinkling a little too far, and watered the dirt – which means weeds grew in the dirt just in front of the vegetable garden. The cages I bought for the tomatoes weren’t big enough, and now the tomato plants are laying in a big tangled mess. They are producing tomatoes, though!

We’re also getting zuchini – lots of zuchini – green bell peppers, chili peppers, and jalapeños. We also harvested a bunch of basil (before the weeds took over – I used weed barrier fabric, but it wasn’t very high quality, and a big wind storm tore up the fabric. Lame).

I have also harvested a few pickling cucumbers which I pickled using a fridge pickle recipe. I didn’t use enough vinegar, but they were still yummy.

None of my beans or peas really made it, but I used old seeds from last year (and maybe a few years ago?) so I think that was the main reason they didn’t make it.

I think the soil quality was a lot better this year, which contributed to the ginormous plants.

I also put the garden on it’s own sprinkler “zone” by putting a splitter at the faucet with a timer and running some PEX pipe under the yard over to the garden, and then hooked the sprinklers into the PEX pipe. It worked like a charm! And now the sprinklers for the lawn (well, it’s dirt right now) will be able to run separate from the sprinklers in the veggie garden.

Goals for next year: bigger/stronger tomato cages, less watering, more spacing between the tomato plants, better quality weed barrier fabric, and sprinklers that don’t over water onto the dirt.

After the first frost we’ll tear everything down and throw manure all over it for the winter.



I’m actually a lot more pleased with our progress on the yard than I was when I first started writing this post. I guess I forgot what the yard looked like back in November. I’d say this is a pretty big improvement.

I’ll try to take weekly pictures of the yard, but maybe I’ll just do monthly photos. We’ll see how it goes.

Taking pictures of the yard to document our progress sure makes me feel better!

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