Monday, August 29, 2011

Bringing Order to the front yard

If you've been reading this blog for the last year (or if, like me, you stumbled across it more recently and went back to read earlier posts), you might remember my posts about getting control of our front yard, particularly this one that talked about taking everything out and this one that talked about putting something back.

Well, I thought we were finished with the front yard once we'd planted our switchgrass, barberries and monkey grass.  What I didn't think of was the inevitable weeds that would sprout around them.  Now, I'm sure someone (probably my mom) mentioned mulching the area, but that just didn't seem necessary (and we were in the midst of the nightmare that became our bathroom remodel).  This spring, we developed quite the weed problem, which our lawn company wouldn't get close to, since their product might damage our 'good' plants, too.  We also lost our monkey grass as it grew at the same rate as the regular grass and we couldn't really tell which was which (and had to mow).  The barberries are holding their own, however, and the switchgrass is doing great!  We also have a little volunteer pumpkin plant that makes me smile!

Anyhow, for a couple of months we've discussed using the leftover landscape fabric (from the earthtainer) to fight the weeds out front.  After my plans for our weekend fell through, J suggested we work on the yard instead.  (Now, I gave him a hard time about choosing labor over a 'fun' activity with me, but since I'm happiest when he and I are working on a project together, I jumped at the chance.)  We ran to Home Depot Saturday morning and loaded up a cart with mulch and concrete blocks to edge the beds.

In case you're wondering, we got 15 bags of black mulch (1.5 cubic feet per bag) and 100 blocks (5.5 x 5.5 squares).  Oh, and of course we had Sandy the family pick-up to take everything home in.  I think we almost overdid it this time.

Yes, that's the front floorboard.  Where my feet went.  J had a row of them, too, but his desire to actually hit the gas/brake won him a little more leg room than me.

Teenagers pay a lot of money to have a low-rider like Sandy.

As with most projects, this one took a lot longer than we expected.  In fact, we spent about six hours on the actual labor part of the task (two or so on shopping and unloading), and we only did half the front yard.  Sandy bounced back much more quickly than we did, and we've been popping ibuprofren and naproxin like candy since then.  We hope to be ready to tackle the rest of the project next weekend (and since we got the learning curve out of the way on Saturday, we figure it really show go faster next time!).

Since it's actually late Sunday night, and I'm still tired, I'm going to tell the rest of the story in pictures:

Before:  As you walked out the door and look left, this is what you saw.

We rolled out the landscape fabric and cut x's in it to pop the barberries through, then held it in place with staples.

Laying the stone led to a lot of trial and error, but we basically laid out the blocks, scored the ground, then dug/tamped the earth under each stone until we could set it level with the previous block (also checked for front-back level).

After J set a section of blocks, I followed behind to backfill the front of the blocks with dirt, then cut the landscape fabric so you can't see it in front of the blocks.

After!  I have hopes of planting more monkey grass (this time, inside the bed so I don't get confused), but it already looks so much more 'finished' than before!

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