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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Watching grass grow-Week 1 in the front yard

Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience.

Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.
-Hal Borland, Countryman: A Summary of Belief

We had a lawn in the front yard when we moved in. But it was in pretty bad shape, badly infested with weeds and the soil extremely compacted. Not to mention the large bald spots under the huge oaks in the front.

There were a bunch of leaky pipes in the irrigation system, and so we turned it off soon after we moved in. During the first year we pruned the oaks ourselves and had them chipped and dumped in the front. This helped to completely kill any remnants of the grass over the last 2 years. Once we had the oaks pruned further (professionally this time...) we cleared the wood chips away for use around our planter beds in the back. Right on cue the weeds and remnants of the old Bermuda grass began to emerge prolifically this spring. I foresee lots of competition before the Bermuda grass lets go in our front yard….you call that persistence !

And this is the cleaned up look, after we removed all the woodchips that was home to critters and what not. But then the ravens were having a feast until then !

The front yard is going to be a completely different challenge in comparison to the backyard.

We started off by removing all the Euryops and relocating the Red Tip Photonias to the front and For starters, we have a lot of shade in the front yard. But interestingly, the eco-lawn seems to be doing well in shade. In under 5 days we were able to see the green mossy look.

In 10 days, the growth was significant

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hostsas 2010

They do look lovely...don't they? But it sometimes is a matter of perspective.

These were the Euryops that were a part of our front yard for 2 years. I am a tad sad to see them go, I liked the yellow flowers in front of the yellow house when we were seeing the place for the first time.
At the same time, I am mighty glad to start off with a clean slate.

The portion of the front yard, around the foundation was totally overgrown with these Euryops that were extreemly leggy/ woody. Nobody had ever pruned them or looked after them. And they were being constantly watered by the sprinklers !
This picture does not do much justice to the state they were in

This one probably shows how bad they looked from the front. They were so woddy, except on the top few inches which had blooms.

So here is what we did

We bought a whole bunch of hostas from Costco and planted them in the ground along the foundation. We popped in between, some purple Heucheras.

But then the front yard is so hard packed that even after a month in the ground the Hostas didnt sprout more than 3 leaves in all, and the gigantic Sum & Substance remained puny. So we dug them out during the memorial day weekend, loosened up the soil around them and re-planted the Hostas. 

You can see them lined up along the foundation brickwork

Here are all the Hostas we bought in 2010. We still have a few varieties in pots waiting to be planted in the backyard under the Oak


Great Oaks from little acorns grow

…..oh how profound a statement.

A defiant Oak acorn that was growing through the landscape cloth under the mulch

Oak-logs will warm you well,
That are old and dry;
Logs of pine will sweetly smell
But the sparks will fly.
            - Mother Goose, Wood Lore

....from our Oak trees

Calla Lilies

Here is what we planted....

And here is what has been blooming

My black Calla Lilies are nowhere to be seen....or are the pink ones supposed to be black?


This is our first year of trying to grow strawberries.
I had ordered some seeds of Alpine strawberries that I started in pots this spring. The Alpine strawberry seedlings are doing pretty well, and I am hoping to transplant them as ground covers under the backyard oak. We spotted some plants being sold at Costco with ripe berries in them, and we were instantly motivated to bring home some plants

The plants we got from Costco, were lying around in their small gallon pots for a few weeks and even in that time we were able to harvest about 12 huge strawberries in about a month.

We finally managed to put them into the ground, in a dedicated planter bed just for the strawberries. I might decide to plant something in between the plants shortly, but I still haven’t figured out how that might work considering that I have put down the red IRT plastic mulch that is supposed to keep the fruits from rotting when in contact with the soil and also make the berries more red!

One of the issues we have been having on the strawberry front is from the ravens. We were skeptical about the fruits being attacked by the squirrels and the many varieties of rodents that seem to share our yard.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Watching grass grow- Week 5

In creating, the only hard thing's to begin; a grass-blade's no easier to make than an oak.
-   James Russell Lowell

Our biggest challenge thus far has been the squirrels, who have been digging frantically all over the lawn, both in the open spots and playing golf in the green areas generating large divots. Their activity does not seem to be limited to the lawn alone; they have been wrecking havoc in our vegetable beds, and most annoyingly chewing on the ice-cream sticks I used to mark the nature of seeds I have planted. My suspicion is that they are getting help from our winged friends who have a "raven"-ous appetite for pulling out the sticks every day.

The big bald patches we have don’t seem to be filling up either, so we have re-seeded the lawn in all the bald spots. The areas with the bald spots seem to be drying up faster than the rest of the lawn area and I am wondering if the germination did not happen because the area wasn’t graded well in those regions

But the grass is indeed as soft as the breast of doves

We started off watering for 15 mins every day and have brought it down to 12 mins after the first 5 weeks. Hopefully we can reduce the watering frequency pretty soon once the reseeded areas show growth. I am excited to see how well the eco-lawn does with low watering, now that it is getting close to being "established".

But at the end of the day.....we decided to go with the eco-lawn option in our front yard as well. So I am going to be watching the grass grow yet again....assuming the squirrels let them grow !

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Front yard makeover

It has been weeks and weeks of hard work in the garden. One of the areas that is getting a real face lift over this spring is the front yard. Here are the pictures that tell the story.

The before, during and during (the real after will come a few years down the road)

This picture (above) is a courtesy of the Google StreetView image database which still shows how bad the place looked in 2008. We didn't get a shot from this perspective and as with everything else Google came to my rescue !

n the summer of 2009, we cleaned up the corner completely of all the over growth and started off with a clean slate. And, in the fall of 2009 when we finally decided to replace the fence, we changed things around just a little bit.

Now that little patch has become ....


Livening up the space along the fence and beginning to bloom now are....the Dahlias and the Gladioli

Friday, June 4, 2010

Watching grass grow- Week 4

The progress during week 4 has been fairly significant. But the bald patches still remain. To add to my worries, the squirrels have been digging around all over the garden and the lawn in full vigor. 
The weeds have also started to show up fairly rapidly and for the first time in 4 weeks i decided to walk over the lawn area and hand pick the weeds. I am happy to report that the young blades of grass took it well. There was no visible sign of damage by me walking around. And what a big stash of weeds....! 

Also hiding behind the fine blades of grass is.......

Thursday, June 3, 2010

It is official

All the discussions we have heard on Gophers.....some claiming Gophers don't exist in our neighborhood and some claiming they do.

It is now least as much as it relates to our yard....we have one more from the animal kingdom, sharing our space......the indestructible Gophers.

This is in the hard packed soil in the front yard under the oak trees ! Now i know where my Calladium bulbs went missing.