Monday, June 16, 2014

Yard Work is Hard Work: Part 2

Since we arrived home again after being gone for a month this spring, I have spent quite a bit of time working in the yard, trimming, planting, and overall attempting to tame.  The weather has been nice, and our frequent summer thunderstorms have kept the plants AND the weeds happy and me busy.

We planted most of our landscaping plan last fall before the polar vortex hit, but a few shrubs we couldn't source at the time were left until this spring.  One major eyesore I couldn't wait to give a makeover was the corner where the fence meets the neighbor's garage... 

Lovely, right?  As much as cinderblock walls, climbing vine weed things, and a section of chain link fence are all my style, I couldn't wait to get this area cleaned up.  Our plan has always been to plant a Little Gem Magnolia tree in this spot, partly because its tall, slender shape and reasonable maximum height will prevent it from dwarfing the rest of the yard eventually.  Thank goodness we didn't plant this magnolia in the fall, since they're some of the more sensitive trees in the yard and almost definitely wouldn't have survived.

After calling just about every nursery I could find, this guy was the tallest tree available at a respectable 6 feet.  Before planting it, though, the eyesore corner had to be dealt with (finally), so I dug through our scrap wood/plywood pile and found an extra section of fencing from when we built the privacy screen on our deck.  

By some miracle, this leftover fencing section was exactly the width I needed to cover over the corner and connect the existing fence to the side of our garage, so all it needed was a few decking screws to fasten it in place, and problem solved.  Why didn't I do this months ago??

I realize that the width of the fencing boards and the color from the new section don't coordinate with the old part, but hey, it was a free, easy fix, and the color will fade to match over time anyway.  

This week I finished up the other section of our landscaping plan that had to wait until spring.  In the fall we installed some dwarf hollies that will grow a few feet taller (again, eventually:)) to create a medium hedge distinguishing the main part of the yard from the back, more secluded garden.  But you can see in the photo below, the center section was missing more plants and an arbor to make a doorway to the back garden.

I really did not want to spend a lot on the wooden arbor and even started researching plans on how to build one myself-- until I discovered this one on Amazon for just $135.  Just a few minutes assembling and done.  After more phone calls to nurseries across town, I settled on a pair of boxwoods-- the biggest ones I could find-- to go on either side of the arbor, and two climbing clematis plants that will make their way up the arch and soften the whole look.

Once I had everything laid out and in place I first needed to secure the arbor in concrete footings. 

I love fast drying Quikrete concrete, especially with smaller holes like this.  You don't have to premix it in a tub beforehand, which isn't difficult, but it makes a mess.  All you do is just pour it straight from the bag into each hole, spray some water in there and mix it around with a trowel (or a paint stirrer, if that's all you have on hand:)).

The last area that desperately needed some TLC was the side yard, connecting our side screened porch to the back.  It was just sad looking, with pretty much nothing there at all in the way of living things.  Grass has never grown here, so eventually I would like to cover over the dirt path look we have going with pea gravel or pine straw from this screen porch door down to the back lawn.  But one thing at a time, right?

Last week I bought a few more Nikko Blue Hydrangeas to match the ones already in place nearby and continue the line of them around the corner of the deck. Once the bed continues past these new bushes, the area becomes a true all-shade section of the yard because of some mature trees just overhead.  So I picked out a variety of shade perennials and filled out the space a little and give it some sense of intention.  It's amazing what a few little plants can do!

By the way, after a few days of digging all of these holes, I'm still sore and exhausted!  Landscaping crews definitely earn their money:)



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