photos to accompany 'can I share a small victory?'

jkw7aj(z8a (Sunset 5))August 9, 2004

Well I finally got the pictures. Now, bear in mind when you look at them that I never said I had a big yard, but trust me, handpulling weeds can take 4 years in a yard this size, I know.

The first photos show the front yard from a few angles. The big cluster of yellow-green at the curb is sedum, and the two grey patches are blue fescue. These are the positions I grouped them into (they were previously scattered all over the yard in little clumps, like green and grey measles). The fescue was at least half the weeding work. It was so overrun with vetch when I started that the fescue was hard to see. And it had been that way for some time, so there were plenty of dormant vetch seeds just waiting for a clear spot. The brown is all dirt, with a thin layer of bark. There is no grass anywhere in this yard (anymore), and as far as I'm concerned, there never will be. The brown dirt areas will be planted with xeric plants starting early next year. I'll have a purple/burgundy/orange theme going (my SO loves orange and the established trees have burgundy foliage ... and I needed a cooler color that would go with them so I picked purple). There will be 4 distinct large groups of plantings with walking space between.

The new, xeric plants will be Agastache rupestris, Liatris, Sutherlandia, Eschscholzia californica, Kniphofia caulescens, Verbena bonariensis, Helianthemum 'Ben Moore', Artemisia abrotanum, Cistus, Penstemon, Salvia, Lavender, and a handful of other grey-foliaged or orange, purple or burgundy flowering plants.

If you think you see roses, you're not hallucinating. They're hanging out from under tree and shrub canopies at precarious angles, trying desperately to catch some sun (look closely, there are *13* of them!). They were planted when the shrubs and trees were tiny and have been crowded out. This winter, I'm moving them into the back yard (which will soon be turned into a cottage-style garden with drip irrigation installed).

This is the corner, which is the beginning of the (shudder) side yard. The second photo is a closer look at the area on the other side of the Japanese Maple on the corner.

Everything after this corner is overgrown with weeds and junipers. The junipers have gotten so massive that, with the exception of one small break, they run solidly down to the end of the property line. If there were no weeds, it would be the very definition of a monoculture.

Break in junipers (populated by weeds).

View from across the street from the property line (marked by the big juniper this side of the pine tree), back down toward the weedy corner. You can see now what I mean by a mass of junipers.

A close-up of the "wild" side yard. There are a few plants there that I will collect the seeds of and restart (Oenothera, Clarkia, Dianthus), but everything else -- along with all the junipers and the sad photinia in the 7th photo -- will be ripped out and the area will be replanted with natives in a tiered fashion (Gaultheria, Holodiscus, Ceanothus, Mahonia, Cinquefoil, Arctostaphylos, Lonicera, Salix, Ribes, Rosa woodsii, Vaccinium, etc.).

Anyway, if you look at the side yard photos, you'll get some idea of how the front yard used to be (minus the junipers). Once I get all the new plantings in, I'll *really* feel like I've accomplished something.

Sorry about all the gushing, but I'm not sure my neighbors care about what I'm doing in this yard, and even my SO has taken some convincing (as far as ripping out and clearing the side yard for native plantings). It's been kind of like running uphill for 4 years, but now I've had people stop and say that they like the front yard (of course, after having to look at the mass of weeds for years, they'd be happy with bare dirt -- which most of it still is, come to think of it). I wanted to share with some people that have some idea how much work this has been so far, and how much work it will continue to be over the next couple of years.

I know it's not what a lot of people think of when they say "garden", but it will be a lush, grass-free, drought-resistant, creature-friendly, brightly colored yard when it's done, and I'm finally pleased with my progress. (When I finish my formal, lush, moist, cottage-style, primadonna plant garden in the back yard, that will be the subject of another posting.) :) Thanks for 'listening'.

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saypoint(6b CT)

Great job, jkw! Looks like you're well on your way to a very attractive landscape. I like the way you've massed the existing plants in front, and can imagine what it will look like when you've put in your new plantings. Very striking! Keep us posted on your progress, it's so much fun to see the before and after.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2004 at 11:16AM
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mjsee(Zone 7b, NC)

I'm still jealous. Your yard isn't any smaller than the section of my yard I've been working on for seven years...and i am STILL behind the eight-ball. Ah well, you've accomplished a lot and have EVERY right to brag and BE PROUD. It would have been so much easier to nuke 'em with Round Up and Preen....I continue to resist the siren song of Preen...

melanie/Microstegium WARRIOR

    Bookmark   August 10, 2004 at 11:45AM
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ginger_nh(z4 NH)

I have done something similar in my front yard--conifers, shrubs, groundcovers, rocks, boulders, ferns. Low maintenance. Took out the picket fence, cottage garden, grass. Trouble is, I keep adding plants that catch my fancy that don't belong . . .

Your photos show what you have accomplished and the work that lies ahead. Keep posting photos as you progress. We need a photo FAQ.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2004 at 3:08PM
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egyptianonion(z5 central IL)

Thank you for those wonderful photos--no wonder you're celebrating! You've got a terrific corner lot to begin with, and you've truly done wonders with the work so far. I love the over-all theme that you have in mind.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2004 at 9:33AM
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jkw7aj(z8a (Sunset 5))

Jo, I'll definitely keep you guys posted, but you may have to hang out here for another year or so before I can get my other plantings in. Of course, it won't be filled in and truly lush for another 3 years (there's a long-term appointment! Meet me here at noon in 3 years ... I'll bring photos) ;)

Melanie, I don't think we have microstegium in this area, but the Geranium robertianum, horsetail, red clover, dandelions, and vetch *owned* this yard when I moved in, so I understand what you're going through. Hang in there!

And I won't say that Round-up wasn't a consideration, but before I regrouped the plantings earlier this year, there was no way to do a spray application anyway, even if I had wanted to. The plants were so scattered that any attempt to spray weeds would have hit desirable plants instead, so it was never an option (though I *did* have near-breaking-point days when I considered painting everything -- including the trees -- with a nice drippy coat of Round-up).

Ginger, I have the same two-mindedness about native/xeric and cultivated/exotic. My compromise is to save the backyard for the moisture-loving primadonnas and plant the difficult, sun-baked sloped areas with tough guys, probably much like you did. There was absolutely *NO WAY* (NO NO NO!!!) that I was going to deny myself the east-facing rose garden and north-facing hosta garden of my dreams. Of course, I'll be dreaming for another couple of years, but at least I have a lot to look forward to, right?

Thanks for your support! I wish everyone luck in their green endeavors!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2004 at 7:28PM
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demaris(z6 NY)

Wow, is this ever impressive! And you are sticking to a plan - I find that the hardest thing of all with all the things that catch my eye.

Ginger, I'd love to see some photos of what you have done in your yard. We want to minimize our grass, but I haven't been able to figure out a low maintenance mixed landscape at all. I fear I tend toward lots of creeping juniper types! (Well, they DO cover the ground nicely.) And I really don't want that look at all.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2004 at 9:27AM
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jkw7aj(z8a (Sunset 5))

I made some cartoons to show what my front yard plan will look like (if I don't change my mind or lose steam). I put them in the Gallery section (sorry, didn't realize that existed last time ... I should have put my original photos there).

Here is a link that might be useful: new photos (cartoons)

    Bookmark   August 25, 2004 at 12:15PM
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