Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Fun Part Begins

It seems as though I've been working on the front garden forever.  We made the decision to remove our front lawn in late August.  It had never looked good and drought conditions had made it look worse.  The lawn was removed on September 13th, leaving a clean slate - sort of.

The area immediately after the lawn was removed


The grass was gone but the area was in no condition to be planted.  It was filled with grass roots, sod netting, and lots and lots of rock.  My husband and I began digging to clear the soil of debris and prepare it for amendments.  It was hard-packed in many areas and the effort took much, much longer than either of us had anticipated.  Complicating matters, the Magnolia tree's surface roots extended throughout a large area so we had to work carefully to avoid causing any serious damage to the tree.

Some sections of the hard-packed soil had to be deep-soaked before we could even get a shovel into them

A sample of the rocks retrieved from a single shovelful of the native soil


We marked off a large area under the Magnolia's drip line, which I weeded of grass roots as delicately as I could (considering that the sod netting wraps around many of these roots).  We plan to cover the area with wood mulch as nothing much can compete with the tree's roots.

Benderboard was used to separate the area to be covered in wood mulch from the new pathways and garden beds


We brought in a total of 6 cubic yards of new topsoil, requiring 2 dump-truck deliveries.

The first topsoil delivery, ready to be moved from the driveway into the front garden area


My husband borrowed a neighbor's rototiller to mix the new soil with the native soil (while I was off touring Santa Barbara County with a friend).  Then came the stone for the pathways.  We have to make a third trip to the stone yard to get the remaining flagstone we need for the area to the left of the front door but the pathways on the right side have been laid, thanks to my husband's diligence.

Mid-way through the process of laying the new pathways


As you may have noticed, I started planting even before the flagstones were set.  I'd already accumulated plants on my trips to San Diego and Santa Barbara Counties, as well as on visits to local garden centers.  Planting the area alongside the front door walkway was easy as that soil was well-worked.  However, after trying out the Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream' I'd purchased in Calabasas in a spot previously intended for a shallow-rooted groundcover, I ended up spending additional hours digging up yet another portion of the former lawn area to receive it.

The Grevillea was meant for this space (even if that wasn't my original plan)

Area after installation of the first few plants


Although I've now planted more than 70 shrubs, perennials and groundcovers, the area is still fairly bare.

View from the path to the from door facing south

Closer look at the bed adjacent to the front door path

View from the side garden looking north

Closer look at the back half of the new space, still thinly planted

View of the completed flagstone pathway, which has a "Y" shape


Yes, the plants need time and room to mature but I also need a lot more plants.  Here's what I've installed thus far:
  • 2 Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt'
  • 8 Arctotis 'Pink Sugar'
  • 3 Argyranthemum frutescens 'Butterfly'
  • 1 Coprosma 'Fire Burst'
  • 1 Corokia x virgata 'Sunsplash'
  • 5 Cyclamen (no ID)
  • 3 Erigeron karvinskianus (aka Santa Barbata daisy)
  • 3 Euphorbia characias 'Black Pearl'
  • 5 Festuca idahoensis 'Siskiyou Blue'
  • 7 Festuca rubra 'Patrick's Point'
  • 7 Geranium x cantabrigiense 'Biokovo'
  • 1 Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream'
  • 5 Heuchera sanguinea
  • 3 Lavandula stoechas 'Silver Anouk'
  • 1 Leptospermum 'Copper Glow'
  • 1 Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder'
  • 1 6-pack of Leucanthemum paludosum
  • 5 Lomandra longifolia 'Breeze'
  • 3 Phormium 'Maori Queen'
  • 1 Prostanthera ovalifolia 'Variegata' (aka mint bush)
  • 2 Rumohra adiantiformis (aka leatherleaf or iron fern)
  • 1 Salvia lanceolata (aka Rocky Mountain sage)
  • 3 flats of Thymus serpyllum (creeping thyme)

This week's rain helped settle everything into place.  It's too wet still to do any more digging or planting right now but the break gives me an opportunity to shop for more plants.  After all, the other side of the front pathway hasn't been touched yet.

Work is pending!


All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

34 comments:

  1. Amazing how that space gobbled up 70 plants! Nothing like a good rainstorm to settle in new plantings -- it's going to look fantastic in spring. Well done!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I compiled that plant list, I was shocked both by the number of plants I've already installed and how spare the area still looks. Only 17 of the plants came in pots of 1-gallon or larger, though. What I need is more big plants!

      Delete
  2. Such a lot of hard work! My native soil produces lots of rocks too, so I know how you feel. I love the new path, and the plants will eventually grow bigger and fill in. But even so, you have so much room for more plants!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some of the plants on my wish list aren't available at this time of year so some blank spots are likely to remain until spring but maybe I'll make do with some annuals in the interim.

      Delete
  3. Wow! These photos (and the plant list) really show just what a large space you've been working on. You should be proud as it looks fantastic. Buying more plants isn't really that bad is it? Oh, and did you lay out the pathways or was that all you husbands work? They're just perfect, meandering but not too much so.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My husband laid the path according to my specifications but, to a significant degree, the layout was dictated by the Magnolia tree and it's ambitious root system and requirements for accessing the (ugh!) septic tank, which is seated below ground several feet to the left of the tree.

      Delete
  4. Oh it's going to look fantastic Kris. I love that Phormium 'Maori Queen'. It will be even more fun watching it all develop. Everywhere looks so lush after the rain. Enjoy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was drawn to 'Maori Queen' as soon as I saw the shipment of plants my local garden center got in and it's exceeded my expectations in situ. The morning light sets it off beautifully!

      Delete
  5. It's all looking very exciting Kris! You have such great space to play with and what you have been doing and decided are all looking good already and will only get better!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope everything gets well-rooted before the evil raccoons decide to explore the front yard!

      Delete
  6. Hey--I'm a rock farmer, too--we've got everything from golf-ball sized rocks to grapefruit sized rocks. What a lot of good work you've done! It looks great. It's amazing to realize just how many plants go into a new planting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our neighborhood is the site of a former rock quarry. It closed in the 1940s but they certainly left a lot of rock behind. I wish we'd find some boulders but, as in your case, the largest have been grapefruit-sized. There's also a lot of what I call "decomposing rock," which can be broken up and turned into gravel if you really hammer on it.

      Delete
  7. This is so beautiful! I love it, especially the pathway. :o) I think this is a much better choice than grass. I'm so happy you received rain. As soon as I heard it had started to rain in CA, I thought of your garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Tammy! The rain is much appreciated. I hope you're enjoying your holiday break.

      Delete
  8. That is a fabulous re-do. I love the way the path winds around the tree and all those plants. It looks as though you knew exactly what you wanted. Perfect timing too. They will have the winter to settle in to their new home.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks Jenny! There's a bit more planting I'd like to get done while we still have rain in our near future but that will depend upon my ability to find the plants I'm looking for, which isn't easy this time of year.

      Delete
  9. What an enormous amount of painstaking preparation you have done but it pays off, it is looking wonderful. You have planted some lovely things and now you will have to wait and enjoy watching them grow into their spaces. It is lovely that you have more space to fill though. What could be more fun than buying plants for a new garden area? Rather than my way, which is to buy something gorgeous because I really can' t do without it and then think: ' Where on earth am I going to put this?'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't think for a second that I don't also buy plants using your approach too, Chloris! It's easier to plan ahead when you have a blank slate and need a lot of plants to fill the space but most areas of my garden are populated with impromptu purchases (and swaths of one!).

      Delete
  10. I love what you are doing in this area Kris! It is really coming together. It is amazing how many plants you've used but some will fill out to cover large areas like the Erigeron. When I'm planting a new area I try to buy the largest trees I can afford and the smallest but lots of perennials that way the planting starts to feel mature straight away and I can always remove some perennials later if I need too. I will enjoy watching this grow almost as much as you. Christina

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Erigeron is almost a weed here, Christina, and buying it was quite out of character for me as it's likely to move in on its own anyway but I was in a hurry to cover as much of the bare earth as I can while the weather is working with me.

      Delete
  11. I am in awe! You have done an enormous amount of work so far, and everything looks fabulous. All of your diligent preparation will certainly pay off with healthier, happier plants. I love the variety of plants you are using with different shapes, colors, and textures, and the flagstone path is a wonderful complement to the plants. I wish I could see it in person! But I am very happy to have the opportunity to follow the progress via your blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope the work will indeed pay off, Deb. I know that some horticulturalists warn against disturbing the native soil too much but those areas that I've left largely left alone generally haven't been as productive as those we've supplemented. At least the newly worked soil seems to be absorbing moisture, which couldn't be said of the much of the lawn area before.

      P.S. You're welcome to visit in person any time your life brings you to LA.

      Delete
  12. That looks so good Kris. The round area marked out around the tree will look great with wood chips and I love that the path flows around that in a curve. It looks as if it's always been that way and flows so well with the rest of your garden.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks Amy! We hope to get the wood chips soon. (The past week's rain is already prompting grass to pop up here and there!)

    ReplyDelete
  14. It looks wonderful, Kris. Doesn't look empty at all--very wise to leave some empty space for new acquisitions that will fly into your arms, begging to go home with you.

    Dear Husband did great work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I can almost hear the plaintive call of all those orphan plants even now. And the work that went into the new area couldn't have been done without my husband's efforts.

      Delete
  15. Wow it looks amazing already! How great is it going to look when the plants mature and you fill in the gaps... Can't wait to see it all develop!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jess! I can't wait to see things fill in either.

      Delete
  16. Very nicely done!
    Think you got to the pavement really good.
    Nice that you got some rain to all newly planted plants, there were many new plants!!
    best regards
    Mariana

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Mariana! There is still a lot of bare space but it is a start.

      Delete
  17. Wow! This area looks absolutely fantastic, and I love the stepping stone pathway. You must be so pleased to be able to fill the space with wonderful plants rather than mediocre lawn. The planting selection are all excellent choices, it will be great to see this mature...Matt

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks for visiting my blog, Matt! Given our limited rainfall and current drought conditions, keeping lawn here is a relatively futile exercise. I've been chipping away at the lawn that came with the house almost since we took possession of the property 4 years ago but removal of the entire front section was the biggest endeavor to date.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Kris looks stunning...I wish we could do this but I am reducing more of the lawn...love what you have done so far.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Donna. There's more lawn left here to go but I hope to take the rest out in smaller increments (or get more professional professional help) - this project was the most physically taxing one we've attempted.

      Delete

I enjoy receiving your comments and suggestions. However, with apologies to bona-fide commentators, due to a significant increase in spam, I've eliminated the option to post comments anonymously.