New house, new yard. Yard needs help!

KrakenQueen(8b, Savannah GA)December 1, 2012

Not long ago I posted about my husband and I purchasing a home and how while moving I could do so without killing my plants. Sadly, the apple and rosemary died, however everything else seems to be doing okay in their respective containers.

Just a warning, the yard is in a state of chaos, but much nicer and more open than the absolute disaster it was before!

Anyway. Turns out the yard is, well, dead, and only supports weeds due to all the sand and the lack of soil. We started our compost pile (if you look in the back, you'll see some cardboard, the compost pile is under that..about 4' wide x 2.5' deep atm) with some of the aging compost from our previous home not even a week after we moved in and have been adding all the fallen leaves from the huge sweetgum tree onto it.

I spent and still spend a lot of time hunting out all of the mexican hydrangea, digging them up, following as much root as I could, etc., and have /almost/ managed it out of the yard except for difficult places. Such as the partial chain link fence left inside the back of the yard (???AUGH) against the wooden privacy fence :: Let me also mention ALL of the cement pillars I've dug up with more to go, square pavers, and TONS of trash!!! Oh boy, and the dead tree and small oak that grew through the chain link too.

The yard before I cleared it out:

The following photos are about two weeks old and there's been more cleanup since we got home from a vacation during Thanksgiving. I'll post new photos soon.

I plan on putting a wildflower area beneath the sweetgum tree, a wooden walking path against the fence from the patio to the gate, a 165 gal pond ..somewhere. We want to make most of the yard into garden with some areas for our old dog to enjoy the sun and relax (and do her business). The gardens in the center have both been set up as temporary boxes till I know what to do with the yard as a whole. This has been the most difficult yard to design :C

Can anyone identify the scraggly tree leaning into the center of our yard next to the walkway?

(I apologize if this post seems rushed, I have fibromyalgia and had to take my pain killers which tend to make for really scattered writing! Whew.)

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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Wow you've done a lot of work! Pics can be misleading but part of the reason the lawn died out could be lack of enough sunlight, in addition to competition for water from the big tree(s). Looks like a nice clean slate!

Sorry, no idea what your tree might be. In the spring it should be easier, when it has new leaves, maybe flowers.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 4:37PM
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KrakenQueen(8b, Savannah GA)

Thanks! The work will be never-ending, I'm sure. The neighbors a few houses over also have an old sweetgum, but they somehow manage to keep grass growing. Since we want this to be a mostly edible landscape with wildflowers to draw pollenators, grass isn't a huge priority except for a small spot for our old dog to rest when she's outdoors.

I'm trying to draw out a rough plan for the yard but it's been a real hassle trying to decide where I want things to go, especially since I have no idea how much sun we'll get over the summer months. Also hoping there will be enough sun to keep wildflowers happy beneath the sweetgum too.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 1:40PM
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KrakenQueen(8b, Savannah GA)

Also, would there be any way to move this to the landscape design forum? I'm wondering if I put this in the wrong spot!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 1:49PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

You can't move it, but you can copy/paste it. I would advise you to read some of the discussions over there so you are mentally prepared for some of the responses you might get. There are some strong passions over there but no doubt a wealth of great info and suggestions.

The CL fence is an awesome support for any kind of vines you might like there, from morning glories to veggies. Coupled with the fact that each post is set in concrete, that may have tipped the scale in favor of leaving it. I would consider it a great asset.

Our dog really loves laying in leaf piles. That might be an option so you don't have to devote valuable sunny space to dog resting if you don't really want to.

There are some awesome no-lawn pics in a discussion on the cottage forum, if you're interested.

The best way to get started is what you've already done. Take stock of what's there, get rid of that which you don't want/find ugly, and try to get a vision in your mind's eye of what you'd like to see out there...

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 3:32PM
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KrakenQueen(8b, Savannah GA)

Thanks! I guess leaf piles wouldn't be a bad option, though we'd prefer to use those for compost ;)

Now I'm debating whether I should just move it to edible landscaping instead...HMMMMm!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 5:34PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Yeah, there just aren't enough leaves to go around!! When I lived in OH, I would just grab as many bags of other people's leaves as I wanted but nobody bags them here. Wouldn't hurt to post to both of those forums. All of them are slower while it's cold out, as you may already know, and this particular forum is always pretty slow... Some of the regional forums are kind of active, others covered in dust. You might want to say what state you're in next to your zone. 8b AL would be totally different than 8b in WA or CA...

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 9:05AM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

I was thinking about that 165gallon pond... You might want to make it above grade for two reasons - having an edge to sit on thankfully while trailing your fingers; and not having to hack through a bazillion tree roots to install it. You may need to think about either a leaf net or a cover for autumn when the leaves come down in bulk. I have a pool cover of wire netting over mine - to keep out the swamp hens and hedgehogs - and it also catches most of the trees' leaves as well.

I agree about the chain link fence - and it does seem to have attractive uprights. However - can you easily get behind it to weed? Or are you going to pay the 'fibro price' for pulling and tugging in an awkward position?

Thinking of bee-friendly plants for dappled light - forget-me-not (Myosotis)is great in spring (and an oh dear! if your dog has a long coat but they are easily combed out), Dicentra, Heuchera, Hosta, Clematis - which could do well in one of the lower trees, Prunella. And the simpler forms of Dahlia are much-visited, as are Buddleias.

My old dog was always fond of shady 'scrapes' under shrubs or ornamental grasses. Or the middle of the Iris innominata...:-( The wooden decking was popular, too.

If you find your tree roots rapidly colonising any garden beds you make you may have to either make raised beds with a barrier layer and above ground drainage points - or move to container growing. They might be why your yard has hungry sandy soil and weeds.

The tree looks a bit like a birch of some kind. (Secondary guess would be a flowering cherry.)

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 3:29AM
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