Monday, August 6, 2012

Some Then and Nows...Progress Being Made

When we first moved into the house I knew I had to attack the front full force - it was just too boring! This turned out to be a multi-month process as I formulated what I wanted to do, figured out (after it rained a few times) what I needed to do, and then started doing it. It was two grass squares with a shooting star shrub/tree on one end and a Manjack on the other. This shrub is nice when it blooms and ugly when it doesn't. I wanted it out.The Manjack is a treasure that birds love. It was a must to keep this one. When the sun blazes (this is the west) it is hot in the front rooms and I wanted to put something in that will keep the views but filter the sun by giving lacy shade. When it really rains the water comes out drain holes and splashes mud all over the walkway. The area isn't graded correctly so the grass was higher than the walkway and water pooled.
I fixed these things by slowly digging out the grass (still have some to go), relocating some soil to grade it, better, and adding some rock to kind of extend the walkway and give the rain somewhere better to go - no more mud! I wanted some symmetry in basic design. I planted a fishtail palm on each side and a bottle palm on each. I wanted different heights, widths, textures etc. The goal is to not see dirt anywhere.

It is growing up nicely! I had a lot of starts from the other house and also added new plants. I still have grass to dig, compost to put down and plants to select but the cats have a safe, cool place to snooze and it seems cooler with all the nice flowers and foliage! Another area I wanted to change was the old dog run area. When we bought the house I knew this was going to be a "greenhouse" "shade house" vegetable garden. This has taken a lot of work since it is sloped, there are roots to work around, it is full of weeds and not level. I got tired of weeding and reseeding so I finally tackled the area (or at least started to). I made planters with cinder blocks. The ground was eroding under the fence so I solved that problem and when I fill them will have areas for exposed veggie growing.
We figured out how to use the existing fence and poles so we could build up and cover it. We slipped smaller diameter tubes into the existing ones and then Jeff attached the cross poles. I got some great material for the cover that is strong and stretchy. Rain can get through but is broken up. Light gets through and so does wind. The problem with growing veggies here is that hard rain compacts the soil, saturates it, and/or floats your seeds away! Humidity is also a problem. I think this will solve most of my problems. Rain won't batter stuff, air still gets through, and there is enough shade that lettuce can grow and hopefully enough sun for tomatoes and peppers. Jury is still out.
Jeff built some frames to set my cement-mixing trays on. These trays are perfect! They are cheap ($6 - 10), the big ones are deep enough for tomatoes and the shallow ones are perfect for lettuce and greens. I've started some seeds even though it is the worst time to start stuff. The goal is all food all the time. There are two levels on the frame so I can rotate or put things that need more shade on the lower level. The deeper trays are up and I can train stuff up by suspending net or something. The cement block areas use the chain link for beans and cucumbers and other climbers. I am pretty happy with things and now want to expand the area. So far 20x12 is covered. I may do part in a shade cloth for total shade and rain protection and some more of what I have got...have to see how it works first.
The other thing I am working on is to make the yard a park. The grown trees give the place a framework, but there wasn't a single flower or shrub anywhere. Just trees sticking up out of lawn! Boring! I am removing lawn and planting heliconias, gingers, coleus, groundcovers, calatheas, etc etc. I am making a border and start by planting under trees. Eventually the under tree planting will connect into a series of islands and I can move on to benches and doodads! The circle of dirt is around my first planting - and Ylang-ylang (which has really grown - photo later).
You can kind of see the border. Some of the plants were starts I took with me from the other house. They have started to send up new shoots. I purchased a She-Kong and Black Magic Heliconia and am excited to see them flower some time in the next year or so! Busy have to front load the work if you want to enjoy fruit and flowers. Poco y poco doesn't work for me!


Anonymous said...

So beautiful. It is amazing what you have accomplished in such a short time. Looking forward to seeing it fill-out..all part of the process. Wil

Anonymous said...

Do you have a flamboyan in the yard?