Monday, May 5, 2014

Our Yard {A Story of Progress and Love}

I already shared a little bit about how bad our yard was when we purchased our home. But I wanted to share a little post on the progress we've made over the past three years.

I shared that the first year or two was mostly spent nursing things back to health and learning about our yard--water flow and sunlight.  And I should include that "learning" also meant some failures and dead plants, but also some fun projects.

Last spring we decided to tackle laying in the corner beds around the existing Bradford pears.  The grass didn't grow well there in part because of the trees themselves but also because the soil had lots of rocky debris that needed to be enriched.  We went a very cost effective, eco-friendly route by killing the grass by laying a layer of newspaper down and then mulching on top.  Totally don't regret it!  It was super easy and a year later most of the paper has biodegraded and you can already tell that it has increased the quality of the soil.  We also fixed up the bed directly across from the patio and laid in heat resistant, full sun trees, shrubs and red yucca.  I am a sucker for ornamental trees so we have a few more than the average suburban backyard.  

Once we laid in the beds that swept around the Bradford pears and the corner of the yard, I felt compelled to carry one of them to the gate--it just sort of made sense with the water flow and it added a sort of garden path you can see below.  The bed on the left we extended this spring--it used to stop at that big evergreen but now it goes all the way to the fence now too.  One thing we would like to do on this side of the house is to complete the little path to the gate with some stepping stones.  Probably some moss rock stepping stones.  

Also, this spring we added the bed above--just last week! We had a wind storm blow over a piece of patio furniture that we were storing for a family member and onto my beloved Japanese was the first tree we planted when we started planting three years ago.  It had grown to be beautiful, thick and lovely.  And each year of growth I would think about the growth of our family in this little house of ours.  

Anyhow, for a combined Easter and Mother's Day gift my sweet husband bought me a replacement and he and my brother planted it and laid in the new bed around it.  I like the way it sweeps the patio and I think that it will grow to provide a nice element to the patio area.  I know that in Texas sun and heat that it's not recommended to plant a Japanese maple in full sun, but this is where my past one was and it had no trouble as long and I kept it watered in the hot months.  They are actually pretty adaptable and the only real difference is that their leaves may turn greener instead of deep purple when they get a lot of sun.  

While it was a quick, cheap fix for our patio to fix up the abandoned pots when we first moved in, they were only a temporary fix and the plastic quickly became brittle.  I also never liked the idea of plastic for plants--it doesn't retain water well and its just unnatural.  So we switched them out for terra cotta pots over time.  I would have loved some glazed pots to go out here, but they were waaay out of our price range.  The terra cotta came in at 1/4 or less of the price and so I had enough money in the budget to get a few more to layer.  Plus with the kind of hail we get in this area of the country I would be so devastated and annoyed if I lost a $100 glazed pot in a spring storm.  Plus the terra cotta adds it's own pop of color.  

The stone frogs represent my alma mater and I got them last month on a crazy good deal--75% off at our local Calloways. They we so affordable ($5 each!) that I got three to tuck around my pots.  I am not much for garden knick-knacks but I thought they fit the vibe well.  

And finally, we got rid of the bunny brothel aka the side deck, laid some sod and planted a few hostas in a small bed over here.  Plus we expanded the bed on the right to include a Japanese maple I got on an Arbor Day special for $9.  It was a sad twig of a thing but I fertilized it and this spring from the nice rain we've had it has probably grown 6 inches in every direction. We will see how it does but I think it should do well and if not--it was a $9 investment! 

We also added a few decorative moss rocks over the past two summers.  Because while we would love to have laid stone around all the beds, that would be an over-upgrade for our house and neighborhood.  But the moss rocks add some interesting depth and texture year round and their reddish tone tie in well with the terra cotta pots and fence stain.  Plus they make excellent climbing and jumping rocks for a certain little garden helper. 

We have a ways to go--there are still a few plants left to purchase to fill in our beds and we had a late February freeze that nearly killed/made my loropetalum look ragged.  And of course there is the power of time--time for the plants we have planted to grow and fill in.  We've planted around 10 red yucca in the beds--they are hot weather rock stars, grow fast and stay green in the winter and their late-spring flowers last all summer long. Currently they are about a 12-18 inches in diameter but the ones in our front yard that have been there 3 years or more are 3-4 feet in diameter and 2-3 feet tall.  So once the red yucca grow a bit some of out beds should really fill out.  Last year's plant of red yucca have already doubled in size and the same for out early spring plant this year. 
It is exciting because I love to work in the yard and I love the slow and steady process.  I will try to post an update here again, maybe next spring?

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