Friday, April 24, 2020

Project Updates: What's done and what isn't

On April 1st, I published a post on the garden-related projects my husband and I were focused on during the current stay-at-home order.  Within a week, I relocated the Yucca 'Bright Star' I'd identified as my top priority and helped my spouse move the rock we've had stowed behind our garage since our home remodel.  My other projects have proceeded more slowly but my husband completed two of his.  We now have a new path for use in hauling out our garbage bins for pick-up each week and I finally have a new compost bin system to replace the tumbler that literally disintegrated last year.

View of both the new path and, in the background next to my potting bench, my new compost bins

This photo from November 2018 was the best "before" shot I could find.  As you can see, the path we used to haul out our garbage bins was filled with gravel and my composter was a metal and plastic tumbler left behind by a prior owner. 


The new garbage bin path took the most time and was completed first.  When we moved in, the path was grass.  We tried to find someone to extend the stone pad that adjoins the street but we were unable to find anyone to take a job that small so my husband laid railway ties to support the wheels on the garbage bins and filled in between them with gravel.  It worked well enough but, when paving stones were removed from our back patio to allow for the extension of our kitchen during last year's remodel, he envisioned using them to replace the gravel.  Once again, we couldn't find anyone willing to bid on the job so he did it himself.

This photo was taken April 7th after the gravel had been removed.  An extended period of rain delayed work for a couple of weeks.

Rather than just cramming the stones in to fill the space, he lined them up to mirror the layout of the existing paved walkways, which meant cutting a LOT of the concrete pieces to fit

The completed path

I relocated all the gravel we removed.  Most went into my cutting garden.  You can see some color differences in the photo on the right but I imagine those will fade once the gravel is kicked around a bit.


So we recycled a lot of what we had on hand!  My husband also recycled materials to construct my new compost bin system.

The slats that make up the compost bins were created using the bender board used by prior owners to line the large lawn areas that came with the house.  We removed all the lawn, section by section, after we moved in.

The clear tops of the compost bins originally protected a couple of art prints.  We'd replaced them with a product that limits sun damage so these were available for recycling too.

Rather than fill in the narrow space between the bins and the paved path with gravel, my husband cut more of the concrete pieces to fill the gap

I christened the compost bin with the first garden debris yesterday!

Before and after photos of the back of our garage.  Less crap!


For my part, in addition to the Yucca, I moved the concrete paving stones some prior owner had distributed through the front beds adjacent to the house on the north side but I haven't gotten much further in rehabbing those beds.

Before & after (1st area): Even I was surprised at exactly how many of those hexagonal concrete paving stones studded the 2 areas.  There was no plan or logic associated with their placement that I could see.

Before & after (2nd area): As our new air conditioning unit sits just to the left of the areas shown in these photos, I moved 5 paving stones to create a short path here for use when the AC unit requires maintenance.  I've already run out of planting mix to improve the soil in both areas so I'm going to have to arrange another curbside pickup at my local garden center before I can jump into replanting.

I moved the remaining dozen plus paving stones to the back slope, where I dug them into place.  During our rainy season, this area between the planting bed and the hedge bordering my neighbor's chain-link fence can get muddy so the steps, while widely spaced, may help.  I cleared our most of the rampant Centranthus seedlings in the process of laying the stones.


I've also finally finished planting the Dahlia tubers I received in late March.  I ordered 17 new tubers back in late December.  Three tubers have not yet arrived but I've been reassured that these will be shipped in the coming week.  Where I'll put them is another matter altogether, as I've already got 4 sitting in temporary plastic pots until space opens up in the raised planters.  A cold winter and a cooler-than-usual spring delayed most of my cool season blooms, many of which are only now getting started, so there's less room than I need for the Dahlias, not to speak of the Zinnia seeds I want to sow.

Pulling rust-ridden snapdragons and the Ranunculus that didn't do well this year made room for some of the tubers but, when those in the plastic pots shown in this photo begin to grow, I'm going to need to move them somewhere that provides more room for their roots to spread out.  And I haven't even looked at the tubers I saved from last year's crop yet.


For the record, I've made nearly zero progress in removing the Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissuma) seedlings running rampant on my garden's south side and, as we're in the midst of our first heat wave of the year (in April!), it may be awhile before I get to that, much less any of the new projects I've recently uncovered that need handling.

Best wishes for a pleasant weekend, whatever weather you're facing.


All material © 2012-2020 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party


17 comments:

  1. Working from home has really allowed me to chip away at projects this spring. And since I refuse to go to the grocery store on weekends I have all day both Sat and Sun. We are having high 80's here for the last couple of days. I planted 4 Dahlias this spring and only one has come up. The other 3-all the same variety- will be dug this weekend. I hazard a guess that maybe they rotted. I wonder if those stepping stones go back multiple owners ? Maybe the plantings way back when and now long gone would reveal the reasoning. Love your new bins and the spouse did a lovely job on that path.

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    1. I'm always tempted to water my dahlia tubers when I plant them, Kathy, but I've resisted that compulsion this time around, at least thus far. If you got as much rain all at once as we did and you planted your tubers beforehand, some may have rotted. I put all of mine in over that past week after our rain stopped, seemingly for the season. All those ordered from Swan Island were already sprouting in the peat moss in which they were packed. I clipped their shoots as SI's guidance suggested when I planted them. My fingers are crossed.

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  2. I'm so impressed! Not only have you gotten projects done, they are the kind that immediately make everything look better. Good job!

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  3. You have some significant projects completed. Brava! I really like the path and the compost bin area. That will be so helpful for you.
    Here we are having a semirainy day with lots of wind. Supposedly tomorrow will be the beginning of some warm weather. I hope to get out and "do" something.
    I hope you have a great weekend.

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    1. It's funny how happy I am to have a functional compost bin again, Lisa. I hope your weather improves as forecast tomorrow. Our temperature went down a bit today but it's still rather warm for April. At least we haven't hit 95F like we did yesterday.

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  4. Looks great! Nice new compost system and I'm impressed with your hubby's masonry work, so neat and tidy! How are his knees? ;)
    You're getting a heat wave and we're supposed to get snow tomorrow night! Goodness, the weather is unsettled all over!
    I've got help this year, so all the gardens are whipping into shape in record time (despite the crazy weather). It feels good to be ahead of the curve (and the bugs).
    Have a good weekend, Kris, stay cool!

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    1. My husband's knees are better than mine, Eliza, but only by a smidge. He's also all for toughing things out. Our respective weather extremes are crazy! We peaked at 95F yesterday but the temperature today only (!) reached the upper 80s. Do you think Mother Nature drinks?

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  5. Your new paths look fantastic and how nice to have a neat and tidy walkway from leftovers. It looked from you photo that there are still stacked pavers behind your garage? Your compost bin looks fantastic too. You must be thrilled with the progress.
    Do you have to dig up your dahlia tubers in your climate? I don't grow dahlias since I don't have a basement to store them and they aren't really one of my favorite plants, but they do seem to be all the rave these days.
    You can send some of your heat wave our way. Please :)

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    1. I REALLY wish I could send you some of our heat, Cindy! It's not as bad today but the quick swing from a relatively cool spring into summer-like temperatures in the 90s was hard on many of my spring blooms. As to the pavers, we do still have an ample supply but at least they're more neatly stacked than the rock was. Regarding the dahlias, no, the climate doesn't dictate digging the tubers up at the end of the season here but, as I use the cutting garden area year-round and therefore water those raised planters year-round, I have to dig up the tubers at the end of the season both to make room for other plants and to avoid rotting them. Tubers need to be kept relatively dry during their dormant period. It's even easy to rot them after planting if you aren't careful about holding up the water until they sprout.

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  6. Path looks great. It always feels good to reuse materials stashed around the house. "De-cluttering" is a very satisfying feeling. Construction materials cost so much to buy - and then potentially can also cost a lot to dispose of... so reusing is a great solution!

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    1. I'm glad we got rid of a lot of the stuff we'd accumulated behind the garage, some of which I've stumbled over for years. Now I just need to think of something we can build with the rest of those pavers!

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  7. I am so impressed with the path and compost bins, talk about attention to detail!

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    1. He does excellent work, and always has! I count myself very lucky.

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  8. You have the best-looking compost bins. Period.

    I'd love to visit again to see all the changes in person. Some day, when this nightmare is over.

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    1. You're welcome whenever your travels bring you this way, Gerhard. This trip through the Twilight Zone will end - eventually.

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