Saturday, July 23, 2022

Yardening is fun again

The nightmare is over. The yard is under control (mostly), or at least, less overwhelming. I can enjoy yardwork once again.

I tried to find a yardstick to place next to this hickory - I know I have three of them *somewhere* - but take my word that this tree is on the short side. That is because hickory trees have a tap root, so can be grown only so much in a pot. What it lacks in height it makes up for in health.

The hickory and the beardtongue penstemon went into the ground on Friday (yesterday), marking the end of the installation. The swamp oak and the cumulus serviceberry trees have tall zippered watering bags; the other serviceberry plants and the witchhazel have donut shaped watering bags. Everything else gets their water straight from the hose, the hose I'm wrangling around the yard for an hour-and-a-half each evening.

That is one of my very few complaints about the landscaping - I had no idea I would be spending that much time watering, and had almost scheduled a getaway, which would have been disasterous for the plants. My other complaint is the glyphosate spraying of unwanted weeds and plants was not thorough enough, lots of things poking through the three inches of mulch. I've resigned myself to a weekly chore of spot treating the yard. Otherwise, I am happy, happy, happy with the results.

I finished trimming the redbuds in back so they don't obstruct my view of that gorgeous yard and so they don't rub against the house. Some of the barespots in the lawn have been seeded as well; there are more to do, but I ran out of straw. This weekend is rainy - over an inch so far - so I get at least one day's reprieve from watering.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Before and after

Here is a rundown of the new plantings in my yard. It took the crew nine straight days of labor to tear out the old and bring in the new, then cover it all with 3" of mulch (for which they did resort to a "Dingo" to move it from the driveway to the backyard). The underground utility people were late, and one crew member tested positive for Covid. The others worked late and even over the weekend. I gave them a bonus, then embarrassed myself by bursting into tears of joy and gratitude. Now the yard feels much more manageable.

Before: Left side of front of house

After: Common Bluestar, Roundleaf Ragwort groundcover

Before: Center of front of house

After: Plantain-leaved Sedge, Prairie Alumroot, Butterfly Milkweed, Wild Columbine, Wild Geranium, Aromatic Aster, Nodding Onion, Hairy Beardtongue (coming soon)

Before: Right side of front of house (boxwood hiding behind the goldmop)

After: Cumulus Serviceberry, Prairie Alumroot, Roundleaf Ragwort

Before: right side of back of house

After: Winterberry Holly

Before: left side of back of house

After: Low Scape Hedger Chokeberry

Before: facing north

After: Serviceberry (and Honeysuckle Vine is revealed!)

Before: facing northwest

After: My play area, plus Shagbark Hickory (coming soon)

Before: facing west

After: Spicebush, Canadian Hemlock, Winterberry Holly, Swamp Oak

Before: facing south

After: one Witchhazel joined by four more

There are a couple of more plantings to go. The south and north sides of the house are untouched, more areas for me to play in. I've rehung (most of) the birdfeeders, moved some containers off the deck, etc. It didn't rain the whole time, but now we are having a lovely drizzle, lessening my watering load. Now I can carry on with my usual chores of trimming back trees and shrubs, trimming, mowing, etc. I'll post a complete plant list separately.

Saturday, July 09, 2022

It rained and rained and rained some more

I must have jinxed the area by saying the D word (drought) in my last post. Too bad I had taken in my rain gauge in anticipation of the landscape work, but I do know areas north of me received 9" while farther south it was more like 4". That is a lot of rain, but since it has been dry, little flooding. Instead, the near hurricane force winds (60 mph) caused tree damage. My yard was relatively unscathed except for one of the redbud trees, which lost the limb holding the wren house. Fortunately, no one had chosen it for a second brood. Unfortunately, some baby bluejays met their demise from a nest in the elm tree. Oh, and the basketball hoop in the driveway fell over.

The landscapers removed the limb. From what I read online, it is best to let the tree heal itself rather than cover the wound with tar or some other substance. Hopefully, it will recover.

As you may have gathered from the previous paragraph, YES, the landscapers are here. So far, they have been removing what amounts to a jungle of growth. I didn't realize how much grapevine had invaded the arborvitae, leaving a big gap of bare branches. They are not dead, though, so I am hoping with some exposure to light and air, the shrubs will fill in, much like the gold mop did when I cut out the burning bush that was crowding it.

Something I had not counted on was how unobtrusive the workers are. Most of the work is being done by hand - shovels, picks, rakes - and what power tools they do have - chain saws, weeders - are electric. No Bobcats, no dump trucks, no lawn getting torn up. The root balls on some of the trees are large enough that they will use an auger to dig the holes, but otherwise, very quiet and peaceful, not like my usual experience with contractors.

Between storms, I cleaned out gutters. The last time I did that, my SO wrangled the ladders and spotted me. He was out of town this past week, though, and I could tell several downspouts were plugged. I had to put on my big girl panties and do it by myself, wondering how much longer I can keep that up. I'll be 70 this fall.

I have been taking pictures as the landscaping progresses; I'll post those once everything is done.

Saturday, July 02, 2022

It's a date... I think

The landscaper sent me an email, setting July 5 as the start date for the installation. However, the yard has yet to be marked by the underground utility people. Also, next week is supposed to be rainy. I'm beginning to get a bit nervous. Or more nervous than I have been.

After all the spring rain, I don't want to say the D word (drought), but it hasn't taken long for my clay soil to crack open from the heat. It rained a trace amount yesterday, so plants absorbed some moisture through their leaves, but the soil is dry, dry, dry.

So instead of mowing, I have been watering. Not a lot, but some. I have some container plants: clematis (which is starting to creep across the top of the pergola), butterfly bushes, rhubarb, sweet potato vine, zinnias ('Profusion' I think), geraniums. The bed on the south side of the house tends to be dry because of the deep overhang. Thistle is starting to bloom, so I have been yanking that. I also sprayed herbicide along the back fence.

Initially, I could not figure out why the Bishop's weed under the hydrangea looked like a deer had been laying in it. Then I discovered that Watson is capable of clearing the fencing in a single bound. I'm guessing Clio is, too, since she has longer legs. My daughter wants some starts from there for her shady front yard once her front porch is replaced. After she gets those, I will take down the fencing and let the dogs finish trampling the Bishop's weed.
I bought a parsley plant at the local food co-op, but when I removed the plastic sleeve, the whole thing flopped over. It is under the grow light now, and starting to recover. It also looks like a bunch of unthinned plants instead of one or two. Not how I grow it.

The birds finally decided the berries on the serviceberry were edible. There have been lots of fledglings which are amusing to watch as they master the art of flying. The wren parents may be preparing their house for a second brood.

I hope you enjoy the holiday weekend. My dogs won't. They are okay if I am nearby, but otherwise any loud fireworks send them scrambling for safety.