Landscape Projects

Last Updated September 22, 2011

Cathy is slowly making progress on landscaping projects:

Back Yard Native and Animal-friendly Plants [updated 7-12-11] — The larger grass area (left side as viewed from the patio) will be replaced with native and animal-friendly plants.

Gravel Path [updated 9-12-11] — We're removing the gravel path that runs along the back of the yard.

Veggie Garden [updated 9-22-11] (pics from 9-15) — We replaced the smaller grass area in our back yard with raised beds for a veggie garden.

Rockery [updated 10-5-10] — The shady part of the rockery is coming along. I've been having trouble finding some of the plants that I originally planned to use, so have had some fun just getting appropriate plants and working them into the design.

Back Yard Native and Animal-friendly Plants

We're replacing grass with native and animal-friendly plants. The plan is to smother the grass by putting down layers of newspaper with mulch on top. By next spring, we should have lovely soil ready for planting. I'm also hoping to move some of the large plants forming a hedge along the house.

UPDATED 7/12: Here's a time-lapse animation showing the progress of mulching from start to finish.

July 7, 2011

We started on the grass-to-mulch project. Here's the requisite 'before' shot:
backyard before

We had mulch delivered today. We ordered 10 cubic yards, but got rather more than that... The tarp is 12' x 16'. The mulch overflowed it with just a couple corners poking out (you can see them by Tom and under the rock along the bottom) and the pile is a good 3' tall. Tom wonders what we're going to do with the extra 10 yards!
gigantic mulch pile

I was especially struck by the size of our mini-mountain of mulch as Tom pulled the Roadster out of the garage:
Roadster next to gigantic mulch pile Roadster next to gigantic mulch pile

July 7 evening

Great progress today! Tom's brother, Bill, helped by moving heaping wheelbarrows of mulch. I just barely managed to keep up papering the lawn and spreading the mulch.

At our first break (so I could rest a bit), we'd done a full strip the length of the lawn and had mulch on a bunch of the second strip.
back at break

By the time I was worn out and ready for dinner, we'd finished covering close to two thirds of the lawn!
back at end of day

As we were heading in for the evening, I was delighted to see the mound of mulch getting under control. Bill had managed to get the overflow off the drive (and swept!)
mulch pile getting smaller

July 8, 2011

A little more progress today, too! Tom helped me during a couple work sessions and the mulching is very close to done. We're out of paper, so we'll need to collect some more before finishing.
mulch at end of day 2

The mulch pile is slowly getting smaller, and Tom managed to get a bit more of it off the drive:
mulch day 2

July 10, 2011

Done covering grass! We ran out of paper just as we finished the last section.

Here's the completed area from the usual angle, and also from the other side of the yard, which shows the newly-mulched area nicely.
mulch done!
mulch done!

Gravel Path

We currently have a gravel path that creates an unnatural boundary line between our yard and the surrounding woods; it's also a pain to weed. We want to have our plantings blend in to the woods, so the path is going away.

We want to reuse the gravel to refresh the part of the path that's staying (by the garage), so I need to filter the gravel to separate out the dirt. Unfortunately, the weeds stay on the top side of the filter with the gravel, so the first step is to thoroughly weed the gravel path. Did I mention that weeding it is a pain?

July 13, 2011

Weeds and 'volunteer' grass removed along the right side and a start on the left side.
path with work just started

July 15, 2011

I was saved from doing work yesterday since it rained and sifting works much better with dirt than mud.

Today I got the grass removed from the left side (near the patio; there's still plenty along the rest of the former grass area). This was especially challenging since a missing separator board meant that the grass had grown unfettered into the gravel area. That made it hard to tell how much of the grass I needed to remove to get all (well, most...) of the gravel. I sifted the top layer of gravel near the patio, then loosened up a bunch of dirt/gravel (the dark mounds), which is now drying in preparation for its turn on the sifter.
left side extra grass removed

July 18, 2011

More progress today:
gravel path

July 20, 2011

Making good progress, but only a little time on the path today; most of the effort was on the veggie garden area. In this picture, the mound near the patio on the right side is all filtered dirt.
gravel path

July 30, 2011

Work on the gravel path is going more quickly now that the weather has been dry and I've got enough cleared to provide a convenient work area. I've filtered gravel a couple of times since the last photo and made nice progress today, about a foot and a half in an hour.
gravel path progress

September 12, 2011

I'm slowly making progress on the gravel path. Today I got some of the slate stones up from around the feeder. They are now providing a path from the patio since the old path is going away. It's temporary until the final landscaping is done and there are permanent walkways. The remaining slate around the feeder may or may not stay; we're still deciding.
gravel path progress

Veggie Garden

We'll be converting from grass to raised beds for Square Foot Gardening.

July 12, 2011

The 'before' picture:
veggie garden area before work

After roto-tilling. This picture is deceptive; it looks like the area is nice and smooth, but it's actually very uneven, including some mounds over a foot tall.
veggie garden area after tilling

Next up, I'll rake it flat, place boxes to determine the layout, have irrigation updated for the boxes, then cover with weed barrier, install the boxes, fill with soil, and put bark between the boxes. Then I can plant veggies!

July 20, 2011

So, raking it flat turns out to be easier to type than to do! Whew, that's a lot of work. It also involved filling the wheelbarrow countless times to haul excess dirt away from the area (it'll be used to fill in along the path once the gravel is removed).

Work this morning, before lunch (which Tom made and cleaned up; thanks honey!)
smoothing for veggie boxes

After working this afternoon, the area is almost smoothed, just a small mound remaining (near the back right in this photo).
smoothing for veggie boxes

July 21, 2011

When we went out this evening to finish smoothing, we found that a mole had been tunneling through the area. The last mound of dirt to move is in the foreground, a little to the right of center.
mole tracks

July 22, 2011

Tom and I assembled the boxes yesterday evening and this morning, then placed them in a nice layout. You can see part of the mound of excess dirt on the left side of the photo, near the top.
veggie box layout

We've got an irrigation company taking care of digging and running the irrigation lines.
irrigation ditches

Here are the boxes back in place with the irrigation installed. The closest box shows the four small sprayers that will be in each box. You can see the riser / distribution point in the other boxes.
irrigation done

July 28, 2011

Bill came back and helped again. We got paper and mulch down around part of the perimeter; this area (formerly lawn) is outside the space that I need for the veggie boxes and will eventually get native plants. Then we put down weed barrier, placed the boxes, mixed up soil (peat moss, compost, and vermiculite), and put it in the boxes. Three are essentially full, and the other three still need to be finished off.
veggie boxes partly filled

July 29, 2011

Tom helped me mix up the last batch of soil and distribute it to the boxes. We need just a little more, mainly in the right-most box, but I'm also thinking that I'll add a bit more to each of the boxes. Plus it'll be nice to have some extra for starting seeds inside.
veggie boxes nearly filled

The last bit of work (other than finishing up the soil) is to put bark down around the boxes; looks like we'll be able to do that Tuesday.

August 2, 2011

Bill borrowed Daniene's truck and we picked up a load of "hog fuel" to spread between the boxes. Hog fuel is shredded cedar, apparently so-named because it's shredded with a "hogger" and the product can be burned to produce energy. Despite the funny name, it's a great material for paths and walkways.

As usual, Bill carted in wheelbarrow loads of stuff and I spread it out. We were delighted to find out that the one truckload was sufficient for the area I wanted to cover.

That evening, after Tom chased away the bear, I took the following photo:
veggie boxes with hog fuel walkways

August 9, 2011

Tom helped me build a chicken-wire cage, which is now on one of the boxes. We planted a variety of veggies (can you tell?!) which should remain safe from birds, bunnies, and deer.
box with cage

September 12, 2011

We've got veggies growing! Not quite ready to harvest, but still exciting! We've got lettuce, spinach, scallions, radishes, carrots, peas, parsley, broccoli, and cauliflower.

September 15, 2011

Our first harvest! We pulled a couple radishes for salads this evening.

Our parents joined us for the momentous occasion.


October 5, 2010

My first project was the rockery along the back of our driveway. I did this a couple years ago; just getting around to pictures now.

Pictures of plants in the 'sunny' sections:

Rockery near the garage; there are a bunch of herbs in this section
(thyme, sage, rosemary, chives, bay, lavender).
rockery area with herbs

The other side of the rockery:
another sunny rockery area

The current project is the 'shady' part of the rockery. The plan is done and about 1/4 of the plants are now planted.

Next spring part of the back lawn will become a veggie garden. We're hoping to get as much food from it as the wildlife...

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