Friday, January 24, 2014

January Projects

As we're lucky enough to be unaffected by the infamous "polar vortex" plaguing much of the US and blessed with unseasonably warm weather (if not, sadly, with rain), we've launched some new garden projects.  Okay, most of the "launching" was done by me but my husband has kindly cooperated.

I began tackling the misshapen hedge that runs along the street on the south side of our property a few weeks ago.  Oddly, half the hedge to the right side of our driveway is constructed of Xylosma congestum while the other half is comprised of what I think is Pittosporum eugeniodes.  It's the latter portion of the hedge that's in poor condition.  Clearly, for many years, gardeners have shorn both sections of hedge on the top and sides.  While that seems to do a fine job maintaining the appearance of the Xylosma, it has left the Pittosporum a twiggy mess with most of the new growth at the top.  I tried cutting a couple of the 9 Pittosporum back hard last year and the regrowth looked much better to my eye so, this year, I cut back all 9 shrubs.

Hedge before pruning, photographed from the back side

Hedge after pruning, photographed from the lawn above

Hedge after pruning, photographed from the street side

Hopefully, I haven't just made matters worse.  It looks very naked now and the area beyond the hedge is all too visible from the street but, if last year's experience is a guide, it should fill in within a few months.  In the meantime, I'm looking for plants to place in front of the hedge.  Behind it, along the top of the interior stack stone wall below the Ceanothus, I've already planted Liriope spicata, Liriope muscari 'Variegata' and Aeonium.

Newly planted Liriope, along with some self-seeded Santa Barbara daisy

New cuttings of Aeonium (A. arboreum, I think)

The Aeonium arboreum rosettes shown in the picture above were cut from existing plants and simply stuck into the ground.  I've produced many large, branched clumps of these Aeoniums from a few cuttings given to me by a good friend shortly after we moved into the house 3 years ago.

Clump of Aeonium arboreum grown from earlier cuttings

The second project of the year kicked off when my husband finally got around to dismantling the "snorkel spa" in the backyard (previously discussed here).

Photo of "snorkel spa" taken last January

Space after the main portion of the spa was removed last week

The stone gravel left behind after the spa's removal

You can't tell it from the picture above but the base of gravel underneath the spa we had to remove was about 6 inches (15 centimeters) deep.  I used some of it to fill shallow spots in the vegetable garden, previously lined using only gravel I'd dug up out of garden beds throughout the property.  (As our site was once part of a rock quarry, I uncover rocks whenever and wherever I dig.)

Gravel-filled pathways between the raised vegetable beds

My husband, with some help from me, used the rest of the gravel to cover the pathway behind the garage.

No more mud behind the garage!

As there's now a good-sized empty space in the backyard, my husband assumed that I'd immediately get started on planting; however, I need to get a load of topsoil in first and, before we do that, I announced that it would be prudent to take out the section of lawn I'd already identified for removal in the backyard.  I drew the lines of the new border earlier this week and my husband installed new bender board to delineate it.

I intend to treat the 8 foot wide grass area between the border on the right and the new border on the left as a pathway

The bender board around the fountain will be removed once the sod between it and the new bender board has been dug out

My husband wants to handle digging up the sod himself rather than call in reinforcements.  We're using some of the sod he removes to fill in holes in the remaining lawn.

The grass removed from alongside the backyard patio was used to fill in the space formerly occupied by stepping stones to the spa

It'll be awhile before the new areas can be planted but that gives me time to figure out how I'll knit these areas together with the existing borders.  In the meantime, there's always the empty space in front of the hedge to plant.


  1. I love expanding a garden bed by cutting out some sod with the half moon edger. You've had a really productive time and the results are pleasing to look at! (That sounds like one of those spam comments I get sometimes, but it really isn't.)

  2. Vilken stor förändring du gör!
    Att minska gräsmattan och ersätta den med växter kommer bli så fint.
    Ditt grönsaksland ser ut som hos mej med upphöjda bäddar av trä och gruset runtomkring.

  3. Oh My, you've been so busy! Thanks for sharing it all with us. I love the idea of the grass path between the two borders. It's so exciting to have new beds to plan and plant, isn't it? Kind of daunting, but also fun.

    1. Daunting, yes! Fun, yes! I hope your own garden plans for your front yard are coming along, Alison.

  4. You've been very busy and very productive! Part,of the enjoyment now is thinking about the planting schemes on those new areas.

    1. Well, my husband gets a lot of credit - he's doing the heavy lifting!

  5. You are so ambitious! In a few months it will all be transformed and I bet the hedge will be filling in nicely. Great job!

    1. I hope the hedge fills in, Barbara. It would be a bear if we had to dig out 9 dead stumps!

  6. Phew, lots of fab new gardening projects ! Best bit is always choosing those lovely new plants !

    1. I should be working on the other border which still hasn't come together but I seem to be jumping ahead yet again.

  7. I think it's wonderful that your husband will get out there with the shovel and help you with your garden projects, Kris. I bet it's more fun to have company too.

    1. I'm glad for his help, Pam, although it does mean that things will proceed in accordance with his schedule rather than mine ;)


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