Saturday, April 07, 2012

Spring, then, is it?

I took classes in landscaping and greenskeeping and horticulture and all that. My first, knee-jerk reaction to my house and yard is to bring in a tractor, rip out EVERYTHING (except the lilac and the hibiscus) and start over. Two problems with that: The first and biggest? Money. An overhaul like that ain't cheap. Especially with the plants I want to put in. Second? I really, physically, just can't do it.

Plus there's that bloody damned moderation thing my OT keeps going on about.

My solution: I've picked one spot to try and do this summer. I can gradually work outward from there. Maybe I'll plant a random plant or two in the front beds while I'm at it, and in five years or so, I'll have kinda-sorta overhauled the yard.

So. My mess. Here it is:
That little L shaped mess? Starting on the left hand side of the picture, at the pinus mystery species that looks like it has mange, back along the wall of the porch, and then along the back of the house.

Here's another view, standing on the stairs that you can see on the right, there, looking back toward the porch:
Even allowing that it was very late winter when I took these photos, you can tell it's a fucking mess. None of the shrubs are a bit useful, there's landscaping gravel to scrape up and drag away, and I really will dance on the carcass of that idiotic topiary that's stuck in there.

See? I fucking hate topiary. They're worthless and you have to trim the damn things. And they don't even flower.
If it was a dragon, I could probably be talked into keeping it. But this? Oh, fuck no.

I'm waiting for the ground to dry out enough, so I can rip out those two... monstrosities there. Then I'll pull up the gravel, and I'd like to put in a poison garden. Medicinal herbs, and dye plants that don't taste good and/or are toxic. Because, then, I'd like to plant food plants up next to the house, between the walk and the house:
The idea of the poison garden (other than the obvious fun of it) is to work as a barricade between the food plants and the deer trail out in the back of the yard. The picture directly above, I was standing right next to the house when I took it. Meaning I can run a soaker hose down through there with no trouble at all, in time of drought. (I am willing to water food plants, MAYBE medicinal and/or dye plants, but that's it.) It's a western/southwestern exposure, and the shed you can see at the upper right of the picture acts as a very good wind break.

I've been watching the weather, the micro climates, and sun exposure for a couple years now, and I think I might have it down. (Other side of the garage, where the wind hits? Alpine conditions. It's crazy.) This should work, if I can hold off the deer and I don't fuck up my hand.

Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions? Anyone?


debsnm said...

The topiary looks like boobs. You should reconsider keeping it. Other than that, my entire gardening experience is roses.

Lola said...

Hardy rosemary. Once you get it established, it's low maintenance - all you need to do is give it a good prune every once in a while to keep it in control. I have a huge rosemary in front of my house that has been growing for like 15 years or so (I'm in Maryland near DC). Might not survive as perennial where you are, but you never know.

Roxie said...

I know of only two effective deer deterrents.
1 A 12 ft high fence.
2. Several large, free-range dogs.

Other than that, they will eat what and where they choose.

Betsy said...

What Roxie said.

We are in year three of a five year prepared for your plan and what you think you are going to get done to change...and change drastically as you go along in terms of your ability to do the work, available money, things that didn't QUITE work out as you thought they would (hmm...that DWARF butterfly bush that I't so dwarf afterall...just because we couldn't get in the laundry room door wasn't a really big problem...but it needed fixing out of turn...), weather and other assorted weirdnesses that conspire against your plan.

But WOW isn't it neat to see progress. REMEMBER to take pictures (reallyreally wish I had).

HAVE FUN WITH IT!!! And keep us posted.

Angela said...

I love it when people swear in reference to landscaping.

Unattractive topiary? Fuck no! Pull that sucker out!

Sandra M. Siebert said...

Boobs? My thought was the topiary looked like balls... you know the ones I mean. I agree, useless. Unless you live in zone 7 or the warmer part of zone 6 you cannot rely on rosemary to pull through the winter unless you pile something around it during the winter, and then it still might not be reliable. It won't get eaten by deer, though. Something doesn't have to be toxic to be unattractive to deer. Some catalogs tag the plants that deer won't eat. Highly fragrant plants will mask the tastier odors. Thick hedges that serve as barriers and such might cause them to change their routes. Little bits at a time, little bits...

Carol said...

I'm sorry if my head went into the gutter when I saw your topiary but my first thought of it was, "it balls with no wiener." LOL.
There was a guy in our neighborhood who grew a very tall Italian cypress with two round bushes on each side. You would not believe the traffic that went by just to see this. I think the city made him cut it down.

I like Lola's suggestion of rosemary. At least grow one shrub of it. I love picking my rosemary for a roast or a pot of veggie soup.

Barbara said...

Ugh, topiary. I'm with you, rip that sucker out. Who thinks they're pretty? People who want to live in Versailles or Disney World? Urk.

I don't have deer, I have rabbits. Cute, furry, prolific, voracious rabbits. And we live in the city so, no rabbit stew. Rabbits love tulips, the little bastards, and I do too. Guess who mostly wins. Can't wait to see.

Corlis said...

Please "Call before you dig." When they do the location, ask if they have a "ballpark" idea of how deep the service runs. Allegedly it's all supposed to be lower than frost depth, but we've seen cable that was less than 8 inches deep.

Can you divert your clothes washer water and sump pump from the sewer to the yard and run that through your soaker hose? I'm assuming you're on a city water system. You'll want to filter the water before it hits the hose. A hose clamp and some old stockings works.

Anonymous said...

One of the things you are speaking of pulling out (not the anatomical topiary) looks like redtwig dogwood, you might want to analyze what is there and see if you might want to move it to another location where it can do its thing and look good. Back along a fence line? Red twigs in winter is a nice thing to view from a window and it might save you a little money to 'reuse' plants. Actually you could do the same with the ballsy boxwood and just let it grow up in some back corner where it can do it's thing and not have to be pruned...those things can grow quiet tall. Just a thought. Helen

MLJ1954 said...

When my hubby and I bought our home, we had a narrow, scraggly garden that ran in front of the house (facing east) under the living room window. Everything we pulled out (including the roses) came back . . . over and over. Things we planted didn't do well (deer and rabbits). We extended the area another two feet and poured concrete. We put chairs there and a table and enjoy our wine. We put plants in planters - impatiens in long low ones and geraniums in pots. And when we have a party and I want flowering plants, I move them to where I want.

By the way, a six foot fence will keep the deer out. Our backyard has a six foot fence and we have raised beds vegetable gardens.

And the only people who like topiaries are those who have hired someone else to maintain them.

Alwen said...

I was going to say, it does look like you have a red osier dogwood, those are okay, but the others I can't make out. I think the pinus whatchie might have been some other topiary thing at one point.

This is my suggestion:

As you drive around, when you see stuff in yards you like, write it down month by month, even winter. I have wads of little notes I have gradually incorporated into the yard over the years.

So stuff like: "January, tall grass & red osier border, cool looking in the snow, but how to mow around it?"

And "Daffodils! Stick on calendar in September when they are for sale and BUY ALL THE DAFFS."

And "Scented violets across whole yard. Pros: short to mow, scented, green and mowable after they bloom. Cons: spread everywhere it's not too sandy. Boo hoo."