My favorite type of gardening is growing vegetables and some flowers, but in the last year we bought a house, so now taking care of the yard is also a priority.
In the first year, I focused on making the lawn look better – filling in spots where there was no grass, trying to get rid of weeds like dandelions, wild violets and creeping charlie – as well as removing a large brick patio and replacing it with grass. It was a lot of work and trial and error, but it paid off in the end, and this year when spring came and things started to green up, the lawn looked a lot better. I also took a chance on planting some bulbs last fall in a new garden bed I created, and the tulips at least have been really nice, especially since we’re unable to visit the botanic gardens with the coronavirus restrictions.
This year the bigger changes start. Getting the house the way we want it is going to be a multi-year project, both outside and inside. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is the perfect yard. I have an ambitious list of things I want to accomplish this spring, however.
1) Along the neighbor’s fence there was a long bed of hostas which was getting too much sun, meaning the hostas started to look yellow and sickly halfway through the summer. I want to replace them with a mix of bushes and flowers that are better suited to the area and attract some butterflies and pollinators, as well as make it look generally nicer.
2) On the other side of the house is a large bed of landscaping rocks. The last owners of the house seemed to like putting rocks/pavement over everything, but I’d like a more natural look. My goal is to remove these rocks, move some of the hostas here from along the fence, and put grass in the rest of the area.
3) There’s a small patch of pretty perennial fall flowers (along with a few daffodils) right in the middle of the backyard. I’m going to move these along the fence and put grass in their place so the backyard has more room for my son to play.
4) In one of the back corners of the yard is the neighborhood low spot, which tends to gather all the rain from the surrounding yards whenever there is a heavy downpour. Last year I put grass seed here and thought it was going well, but by the end of the year most of it had died. Instead of an unsightly dirt area, I want to put something there that likes both wet and shade, since it’s also underneath two trees. I purchased a few “bugbane” (also called cimicifuga or actaea) to put in this spot. They haven’t arrived yet but hopefully they’ll work out.
While many people have a lot of free time on their hands during the coronavirus pandemic, we’re both still working from home and now have our 3-year-old at home full time as well, so free time to do these projects is at a premium. That means I try to find an hour here or there every day to work on it. Progress is frustratingly slow, but it is happening.
So far I’m focusing on clearing out the rocks and moving the hostas before they get too big. This isn’t really a lot of fun but I need the hostas out of the way before I can do anything else. It’s also not really clear what to do with a (literal) ton of rocks. I’m almost done with moving the hostas, however.
Next up is deciding what to put along the fence. I’m going to put a lilac bush there so it will be the first thing someone sees looking from the road. We’re also planning a few other bushes, and I want to plant some sunflowers in there somewhere, as well as wildflowers. Even though it’s a lot of space, I’m afraid I’m not going to have room for everything or that conversely I’ll use everything I want and still have a ton of space left. I also bought some blueberry bushes that I planned to put in this spot. I’ve read that they’re hard to grow, however, so I don’t know how that will work out.
Another tough thing about this is just not knowing how it will all come together. I feel like there should be some kind of overall plan, not just a random assortment of plants to fill space. This really isn’t anything I have experience with, however, so I’m really winging it.
Soon I hope to be able to move the flowers from the middle of the yard and put grass in there. I also need to clear a spot for the garden, which is especially difficult right now since I’ll probably need to do the work by hand. But I figure my ancestors did it that way so it must be possible, right?
Of course with gardening there is a certain time of year when it’s best to do things, and unfortunately a lot of them need to be done right now. I feel like I’m really scrambling to get everything done on time and not miss a growing season or a planting season for anything. When I look at the forecast and see rain coming I know that means one more unproductive day and I can just hear the seconds ticking away. I’m sure it will all work out in the end but right now it’s hard to relax for a second. Anytime I have a few minutes free it seems like I should be working on something.
This landscape design is all new to me. I’m hoping it will all turn out the way I envision it, but at least if it doesn’t it can always be changed. And some of these things like removing the stones will thankfully never need to be done again. It is fun trying to make the yard our own by putting our own stamp on things. It will be nice, however, when we can just sit back and enjoy it and not have to work so hard to get it the way we want it.