Thursday, October 1, 2015

Wide Shots - October 2015

I'm finding it very hard to believe it's already October.  It feels like summer here.  The days are a bit shorter and the nighttime temperatures have finally dropped below 70F (21C) but those changes are the only real signs of fall.  Although we got a touch of rain early last month, giving us the wettest September in Southern California in 75 years, the garden remains very dry.  Daytime temperatures are hovering close to 90F (32C) so work in the garden is still largely confined to early mornings and late afternoons, which has made our work in digging up the backyard area formerly occupied by lawn slow going.

I estimate we've cleared  between 120 and 150 square feet of soil of grassroots, the plastic mesh used in sod, and rocks but we still have a LOT to do before we can lay paving stones and plant the area


That's all I'm going to show of the backyard this month.  Like last month, instead of showing photos of each of the major areas of my garden for this wide shots post, I'm focusing on just one section: the front garden.

The earliest photos I have of the front of our house were taken by my brother on Christmas Eve Day, 2011, approximately one year after we moved in.  They show a front yard with lots of lawn. The lawn was green because the photos were taken in winter, our rainy season, and because irrigation wasn't restricted until 2014.

Photo courtesy of ericnp.net

Photo courtesy of ericnp.net


My first wide shot of the front garden was taken on September 30, 2013.

The quality of the photo is poor but you can see that the lawn was still in place


When I took photos for my wide shot post one year later in October 2014, we were in the middle of digging up the area formerly covered by lawn, going through a process nearly identical to the approach we're currently taking in the backyard.

You can see piles of recently dug soil in the far right side of this photo



By January of this year, we'd completed soil preparation, laid flagstones and planted the area.


Most of the plants in the foreground were installed in November and December 2014


Last month, I didn't post photos of the front garden but I did take pictures.



This month, the view is much the same except that it shows the bench/plant shelf we added surrounding the Magnolia tree in mid-September.  (Details are provided here.)

Photo taken looking east toward the front door from the far side of the driveway

Photo taken looking south

Photo taken looking north


The starkest before and after comparison I can provide is this one:

My brother's photo from December 2011 is on the left and my current photo, taken yesterday from a similar angle, is on the right


I can only hope that I'll be as pleased by the transformation of the backyard currently in progress as I am with the transformation of the front garden.

As always, my thanks to Heather of Xericstyle, who started me on the process of collecting wide shots of my garden in 2013.


All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

33 comments:

  1. The changes you've made represent a mind- and muscle-numbing amount of work. It looks so fabulous now! I know the back will look just as good when you're finished.

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    1. I keep reminding myself that we got through the process in the front yard so there's no reason we can't do it again but, at the moment, both my husband and are are feeling the pain - and the tedium - of going through it yet again. Oh well, this too shall pass...

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  2. If these improvement are anything to go by Kris, I've every confidence in your ability to make such a good job of the back. Keep up the good, albeit hard, work!

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    1. Thanks for the words of support, Angie. It still feels like a long row to hoe at the moment.

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  3. The last combination of photos...less lawn and SO MUCH more lush. That's quite a transformation, Kris. It looks fantastic.

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    1. I'd originally leaned toward keeping most of the lawn in front, while pulling it all out elsewhere, but I'm glad we went ahead with removal. There's no way to keep grass looking good here beyond our brief rainy season.

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  4. It does look fantastic. But isn't it a lot more work to maintain than the grass? Perhaps I am looking at it from an English perspective.. abundant rain. New plantings here would soon be swamped by weeds if I wasn't constantly pulling up the unwanted growth.

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    1. The problem with grass here, beyond it's increasingly negative reputation as a water hog in a climate with little water to spare, is that it only looks good for a few months of the year at best. With our current water restrictions, the only way to keep it green all year would be to give up bathing, washing clothes, cleaning, etc. The main reason for going through the misery of digging out the grass roots and weeds embedded in the former lawn area is to reduce the future weed growth. I do get some weeds in the front garden, of course, but it isn't rampant. Our dry conditions probably help to keep weed growth under control - we'll see if El Nino makes a difference there next year maybe.

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  5. I don't envy you the task, but it does look so much nicer in the long run - I really like the before and after shots...just brilliant!

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    1. Digging out the grassroots is a miserable exercise, Matt, and I'm not happy to be at it again but I just keep reminding myself that it'll make a major difference next year.

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  6. Kris, I loved seeing this pictorial history of your front garden. So much more beautiful and interesting now than it was when you moved in. What an accomplishment! -Jean

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    1. Thanks Jean! It's still a work in progress (but then it probably always will be).

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  7. Your garden has come such a long way!

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    1. It still has a ways to go before I'm truly satisfied with it, Hoover Boo, but it's made good progress in one year.

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  8. A lot of work, but you have a lot to show for it, Kris! One of the things that stands out most to me is the difference the shrubs make; their height adds so much more dimension in a space like this than a lawn can!

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    1. It's definitely a more complex space than it was. It looks (and feels) bigger to me than it did when it had a carpet of flat lawn too.

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  9. Your water wise approach has given you a much more beautiful garden Kris, well worth the hard work, I hope my changes will be as successful. One thing that strikes me (and you wouldn't expect) is the the area around the the tree lots much larger in the immediately after shots than when there was grass. I have no doubts that the back garden will be equally beautiful if not more so with the added knowledge you've gained along the way.

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    1. I agree, Christina. It looks like a bigger space. The two areas recently stripped of lawn in the backyard and along the street in front also look huge to me now that the grass is gone but perhaps that's just that I'm still overwhelmed at the idea of digging them up one shovel full at a time...

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  10. Fabulous transformation Kris, your wide shots are always a delight to see!

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  11. A good decision to remove the grass, it looks so nice out with all the plants instead of grass.
    Best regards
    Mariana

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    1. I hope the backyard will come out as well, Mariana.

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  12. I do love a great before and after, that last set of photos says it all. Plants are so much more interesting than lawn! Splendid work Kris.

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  13. The before and after photos are great, keep up the good work - it will lead to better days eventually :-) Although I have a much smaller garden and have just got rid of a much smaller lawn area, I can still appreciate the work you are facing. I am sure your back garden will look just as wonderful as your front garden when you are finished.

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    1. The work is so slooow, Helene! We didn't know what we were getting into when we started in on the front yard last year but now we do and I think that makes it more, not less, daunting.

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    2. I agree, ignorance is bliss!
      Knowing exactly how much work you are facing is rather daunting – like with me and all the plants I need to get in my clay soil the next couple of months.

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  14. Fascinating to have a record like this of all the work you have done. You must be so pleased at what you have achieved, it looks fantastic now, so much nicer. Lawns really are a waste of space and resources.

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    1. I don't mind small sections of lawn when the grass looks healthy and green but, as that's seldom the case here, especially with the limited rainfall we've had the last 4+ years, holding onto lawn just isn't work it.

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  15. Wonderful transformation. Lawns seem so 'meh' now. (And crushed rock everywhere is even worse.) Your garden is the way to go.

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    1. I agree that massive expanses of crushed rock can be worse, Luisa - it only contributes to the heat sink effect.

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  16. Everything looks incredible! Considering your water issues, I'm always amazed that you can grow anything other than cactus! :o)

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    1. And now that I've filled the garden with drought tolerant plants, El Nino is poised to sweep in and drown all of them!

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