Thursday, March 30, 2017

Back in the garden

Truth in Gardening Disclosure: my front garden no longer looks like this - beautiful, that is. ­čśó And the house is Santa Monica Blue.

By way of catch-up, three and a half years after his stroke plus the progression of Parkinson's Disease my DH passed away last November 29th. Now four months later I seem to have my bearings, so, of course, I have dived head first into a heavy construction project in the back garden. Dare I say it? I have decided to lay sod.

The decision was so casual. Being tired of the drab gray granite gravel and brown oakleaf mulched beds, my eyes were desperate for some color - namely, emerald green. That casual decision became decidedly weightier when I lifted the first shovelful of gravel. Typical Sherry move. Why pick an easy project when there's a monumental one to be had?

Eight or nine days and 20 or so hours later the gravel has been relocated to pathways on the sides. Brings back memories of the original excavation of this garden except that I'm ten years older - mid-sixties. I can't go all day, only two to three​ hours per day - at least for gravel moving, but I'm doing it and getting in shape in the bargain. I cancelled my YMCA membership today. Those exercise machines are child's play compared to moving rock!

I suppose anyone who does a blog should be well past getting embarrassed by what she posts, but this 'garden' does look pretty rough!
Hopefully, one pallet of sod will do the trick. I've chosen Seville St. Augustine for its shade tolerance and slower, shorter growth habit. It's supposed to be less aggressive about sending out runners. I hate edgers, but I guess I'll need one or maybe just a lawn service.

This is my postage stamp-sized back garden - taller than it is wide or deep. Since I'm always only looking down, this is a thrilling shot to me - done in vertical panorama and still won't capture the treetops. The backyard is 60 feet wide and 30 feet deep including the 12-foot deep patio and the trees which are on the north, a good thing for sun-worshiping roses, but the house is on the south, a bad thing for sun-worshiping roses.

From the other side you can see one of the weed cloth piles. It was guaranteed for 15 years and looks pretty new, albeit dirty. You may not remember but the backyard ground under the gravel is crappy, limey, cement-like sandy clay that was excavated from the beds everywhere and dumped in the back, raising its sea level at least six inches. Now grass needs to grow there. "Houston, I think we have a problem." It is extremely hard and packed like rock, so I thought I would stick it with a pitchfork to poke holes for the roots to penetrate. Ha! The pitchfork didn't even dent it - or rather I couldn't dent it. Then I noticed that where I had wet it deeply it was quite soft and easily broken up - one of the properties of clay, I suppose. So that's what I have to do to the whole area to prepare it for the sod. I think I'd rather shovel rock.

You should be able to see the edge of the remaining gravel, running diagonally towards the upper left. Sadly, I can't go all the way back to the property line (another 8 feet or so) because it's dead shade here, and even Seville needs four hours of sun. Like one sod website said, "If you can't grow weeds, you can't grow grass." My weeds must be special. They grow happily in the shade.

Stacked against the tree (and elsewhere) are the 'decorative' broken cement block pieces that were embedded in the gravel. Like Scarlet said, I'll think about them tomorrow. The neater thing about this shot is that I broke through the planting bed. The hydrangea died - seems that not much can compete with the feeder roots of those oak trees. You may remember that there's a rebar arbor spanning the area with a leg in each bed. Hopefully, the clematis on the left has survived my not watering for many months. And yesterday I bought a bright pink Mandevilla for the right leg. Keeping my fingers crossed that only afternoon sun will be sufficient for it and that it can fight for water...and beat the oaks. On second thought there's an arbor on the other side that would be better for the Mandevilla.

I probably jumped the gun by buying plants, but that's what I do. The side borders are disasters and will probably lose the roses that have been languishing there - except for Louis Philippe which has rebounded to life and bloom after being severely cut back last spring. I'm hoping that lots of water will help the liriope, gaura, blue salvia and white angelonia compete with the big bad trees. (No offense! I love the trees.) I also got a couple of white dwarf Indian Hawthorn with more coming probably and, of course, a 'Sweet Drift' rose. How could I not buy a rose?

I have such bad ground in the back garden that I am so doubtful that any plant will thrive there. Maybe I'll try a bunch of those water crystals around each plant, but from past experience that will probably only draw more feeder roots. Waaah!

So Monday I'll order the sod which should be here by mid-week or end of week. And I should have beautiful green grass by next week. The sod website said a pallet (500 square feet) could be laid in an hour and a half. 

Rolling On The Floor Laughing So Hard My Sombrero Fell Off And I Dropped My Taco

Gardening is so satisfying!
I guess that's why I'm still at it.