Sunday, May 18, 2008

Putting the weeds to bed for good

This section of our yard has bugged me since we moved in here. It's four feet wide and about 70 feet long. It is almost entirely weeds. There is some grass, but mostly the weeds have taken over especially on the side that's closest to our neighbour's house. This neighbour mowed his grass three times last year, once at 10:00 p.m. because the city warned him that if he didn't have it done in 24 hours, they would do it and charge him $250 for the pleasure. The city will be giving him that warning more frequently this year. The city may also start blocking calls from me. *grin*

For two years I've been planning to plant this whole strip in such a way that I would never have to fight weeds in it again. I will not use chemicals in my yard or gardens, so the standard junk available was not an option. Vinegar does work well, but I really didn't want to spend hours upon hours spot killing weeds with vinegar, either.

I estimated it would take me five years to plant out this side yard. It seems small until you try to fill it in. However, thanks to MANY generous people as well as a few Horticultural Societies and individual from-home sellers, I'm darned near done! I MUST thank Charmaine from Niagara Plantcycle who gave me several Hostas and Sweet Woodruff, along with numerous plants for my rock garden. Also Paris from our local Freecycle has gifted me with at least 20 Hostas and countless bulbs and groundcovers. The Welland Horticultural Society had its Spring plant sale and from there I got all the Ajuga (commonly called Carpet Bugle and Bugleweed) I planted for about $15. The St. Catharines Horticultural Society was my source for even more ground covers and perennials for my other beds. A nice gentleman in Wainfleet filled the back of my van with plants, flowers, and groundcovers to the tune of TEN whole dollars! I will visit his sales every year!

The process:

  • First, we had to dig out the grass and weeds from the front 20' of this section. The weeds were so strong, I could not do it myself. Roy had to do it.
  • Next we ammended the soil with composted manure.
  • Then we rototilled the whole section.
  • We let it sit for two days so the birds could feast on the wealth of grubs in that section. (We tossed about 20 into the road. I know there were more! I bet it's going to be a bad year for Japanese Beetles with how many of their grubs we found over there.)
  • We placed landscape fabric over the front section. (This involved removing and resetting the top layer of retaining wall bricks on our driveway side.
  • Then I started planting.
Planting took me two days. I had to cut slits in the fabric then dig down into the soil to place each plug of Ajuga. After it was all planted, I had to shred the landscape fabric around the Ajuga with a carpet knife so that the groundcover will be able to spread and fill in the area. I needed to leave some of the fabric intact around the edges because the weed roots were so strong there we could not get them out. Lastly, I mulched heavily and added a bunch of driftwood to the center section which currently contains no plants. Next year I'll add a ground-hugging Euonymus, which was also a gift from Charmaine on Plantcycle but is currently rooted elsewhere to get a chance to grow. I already have two Hydrangeas in there which I planted early this spring. They are purple-flowering and will look great next against the Ajuga.

What a mature Ajuga bed looks like:

The great thing about Ajuga is it is strong enough to beat out the weeds as well as be walked on. You know the kids run through this side yard, and I won't have to worry that they'll kill the groundcover. It flowers in spring and spreads by underground runners. It'll take about three years for my planting to be completely filled in.

Now for the back section. You'll have to use your imagination, as the plants are quite small right now. I'll share more pictures at the end of the summer, when the Hostas should be quite large and other items I've planted back there in all their glory.

Can you see the sticks poking up all along this section? Each of them represents a Hosta. Some Hostas are large enough that I didn't have to mark them out. I also have three sections of Sweet Woodruff planted. Yes, I do want it to fill in around the hostas. I planted three Lilies of the Valley outside the window. I have interplanted cransebill Geranium and another groundcover which I need to identify, but think it may be a lamium (except it has a yellow flower and does not look like the false lamium I see in pictures on the net.) At the back corner I've planted a fern. I want to put an Ostrich Fern back there but that may have to wait until a different year. I will be mulching out this back section soon as I can. It's going to take a lot of mulch and I'm looking for the most economic options.

As it turns out, the cranesbill geranium is 2008's Perennial of the Year. Oooh, I'm so cutting edge and I didn't even know it! This is what it looks like:

Now, then, what to do about that channel in the neighbor's cement retaining wall? I've got Variegated Gout Weed growing heartily and happily out back and need to remove sizeable portions from my memorial bed before the roots choke out the perennials I have growing there. It's quite attractive, but also quite invasive. So long as I took care to deadhead the flowers before they set seed, I wouldn't have to worry about it spreading beyond that cement channel. For now we've covered up what we could with remnants of our landscaping fabric in the hopes of killing the giant weeds inside it. The neighbour doesn't trim anything that grows in this channel, so it's become part of my husband's routine weed whacking. I don't think he'll care if I put the goat weed in there. Though maybe I should ask first. I think we've exchanged about 3 words in the past two years, though he doesn't seem to be a nasty person....maybe just asocial (and thoroughly disinterested in lawn care.) My other option, should he refuse the goat weed gift, will be a steaming brew of vinegar and salt water. Nothing will grow in there, including weeds should I take this route.

Oh, and yes, I will be calling the city about that abandoned car. It has moss growing on it! I can't work around it very well, as I can't bend over and plant anything on the ground there. There are so many metal collectors in this city, it should be no problem for him to have it removed.

Next up is the rock garden!
(Yes, I'll get that picture of the fountain soon as it's not raining and overcast!)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Water Garden

This was our first big undertaking this year. Starting April 5th, which was the first warm, sunny day after a winter that was three years long, we dug out the hole for our 55-gallon drum that would become our water garden (miniature pond).

The ground was nice and soft thanks to the heavy snows finally melting. It's awkward digging a hole 2.5 feet deep and only 2.5 feet in diameter. We made it a little wider and filled in the edges after setting the drum. So just how does one go about digging a hole 2.5 deep and 2.5 feet in diameter? First, one gets a shovel. Or two. Next, one employs readily-available and free child labour:

As you can see, the hole's not quite deep enough so we had to dig it some more. Then we set the empty drum in the hole until we got some bricks to put inside:

3 cinder blocks are arranged inside. These will be plant shelves as well as safe hidey-holes for the fishies who might need to get away from neighborhood cats, herons, or children. We filled the barrel with water, refitted the lid and left it until the moment I learned that Canadian Tire had floating solar water fountains. I ran out immediately and snatched up one of the last two on the shelf. WOOHOO! We had a nice little fountain going there for a couple weeks with nothing other than cinder blocks to keep it company. It only runs in full sun (and sometimes when it's only slightly overcast) so by afternoon it has shut off as the pond is in full shade by 2pm now. That's getting later every day and by the height of summer, the fountain will run until 6 or 7 pm.

On May 9 I bought the plants and placed them in the pond. We also took a couple trips to get the fish. First we went to the Koi Pond in hopes that they would have shubunkins (which are smaller and cleaner than Koi.) No such luck. He tried to tell me he had some shubunkins, but I saw everything he had, and everything he had cost TOO MUCH and was ALL KOI. So off we went to Petsmart. They had lots of choices. We settled on the 27 cent feeder goldfish. I figured if they died overnight, we wouldn't be out a bunch of money. We bought four: two orange with black markings and two orange with white markings. The fish are thriving in their new home! It's been a week, we still have four fish, and a couple of them are significantly larger than they were a week ago. Now they're even staying visible when we come to feed them.

This weekend (May 15) we started purchasing our bricks to surround the portion of the pond that is above-ground.

Do ya want to see it? Now keep in mind, we're only buying some of the brick at a time, so the brick surround is not completed. It will be in a month or two. I also removed the fountain to take this pic. I'll take another with the fountain in all its glory tomorrow.

Yes, that's a toy boat in there. That little boy had to dig that hole, he should get to float his boats in the water! As you can see, I also transplanted some day lilies (tiger lilies, ditch lilies, whatever you want to call them -- they're the standard orange flowered lily) behind the pond. I didn't want them where they had been and they'll look nice back there.

A closer look at the plants:

and what they are:

Can you see that oblong shadow at the end of the arrow denoting a fishie? Yes, it's a fishie! The water's not actually murky. It was dusk when I took this picture so it's dark down there. I also have a waterlily under where the front hyacinth is floating. It hasn't grown enough to float on top of the water, though.

Here is what each of the plants will look like when they're blooming and mature:
All my water plants are hardy in our zone (Canadian 6b, US 5b) and will survive the winter. The fish will also survive -- they're they reason I planted the whole barrel instead of cutting it in half and having a patio water garden. I may need to do something to keep the water from freezing, and I will cover the pond to give it more insulation. I also want to get a couple snails to keep things tidy in there. And we'd all like to have a frog.

Next up, the weed bed....

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Year of Many Garden Projects

Pictures to come in future posts.

Of our garden projects we have completed our small water garden. It now contains several small hardy plants, 4 small fish, and a floating solar fountain.

We have also:

  • completed our rock garden
  • completed two thirds of our retaining wall around our driveway
  • removed the grass & weeds from 20 feet of our 4' wide side strip of side yard
  • planted about 40 perennials
  • added compost and manure to our vegetable and perennial beds
  • reseeded lawn that needed it
  • installed a wood stove on our patio
  • planted two different types of peas
  • planted two different types of carrots
  • planted beets
  • removed blossoms from 1st year daughter strawberry plants
  • installed a rock path through our large garden bed
  • transplanted and removed day lillies we didn't want
  • planted pampas grass where the day lillies were
We still need to:
  • build our square foot beds. They are now two 4 x 4 foot beds.
  • plant out the side yard with ground covers
  • plant the rest of our vegetables
  • plant annual flowers
  • install a brick wall around the water garden
  • finish painting the *&$#%ing porch
  • re-set our post for our clothesline
  • possibly install a bog garden next to the water garden
  • Mulch, mulch, mulch!
I bet there's more! We definitely have our work cut out for us. I will begin sharing pictures of the projects we have completed.


What projects do you have going on?

blogger templates | Make Money Online