Lawn and Landscaping WoesPlease Help (Pics Inside)
Hello and thanks to all who have helped get my lawn/landscaping to where it is today. By way of background, I moved into my house in late March 2008 and undertook a major lawn restoration project (on a budget). For photos and details refer to this GW post: http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/lawns/msg051115205341.html
After 5 months, the front lawn is coming along well with regular watering and fertilizing per my local extension and GW member "Texas-Weed." Fortunately or not, Ive come to the point where I can see what is working and what needs help. To better assist readers, Ill break the issues down into categories:
1. Front Lawn
As you can see from the pics, this is the best part of the total landscape. The seed took well, and I trimmed the lowest ring of branches off the Bradford Pear tree to promote additional sunlight and access to water.
2. Side/West Lawn (sloping)
This part of the lawn isnt bad and rarely gets seen. For the most part, it gets lots of sun, especially hot afternoon sun so the Bermuda does well. However, it also gets little water due to the difficulty of placement.
3. Side/East Lawn (dry and mostly shady)
Without question, this is the worst part of the landscape since it is visible from the street and is a barren wasteland. If you looked at the prior GW post, youll see that I sprigged St. Augustine here, but applied roundup two weeks ago since it looked ridiculous. You may also be able to see the pachysandra I planted as a test to see if it would work there. Its only been a week so still too early to tell.
4. Back lawn (house side of slope)
The back yard as a whole is struggling, but the area on the house side of the slope is the best of the worst. The closer you get to the apex of the slope and the base of the pines, the worse it gets. The grass here is mostly Bermuda, although Ive over-seeded with perennial rye since it was thin anyway. I did not seed perennial rye anywhere else as I dont want to interfere with the young Bermuda root system, at least in the first year.
5. Back lawn (fence side of slope)
If this area was ever seen, it would be the worst. Fortunately it is not seen and currently is a complete waste of square footage as the slope is too severe for my kids to play and is really too difficult to mow regularly. You may not be able to tell from the photos, but in the center of this area is pre-existing St. Augustine grass with Centipede at the base of the hill. Of course, both are contaminated with large amounts of various weeds. I also planted all the Leland Cypress tress you see in the photos to give provide some privacy from our back neighbors in the coming years.
6. Front beds
The larger more established shrubs and trees were there when I moved in. They are comprised of crepe myrtles, sweet bay magnolias, and various types of holly bushes. The nandinas around the power box, box holly around the telephone box, and all annual/young shrubs, lorapetelums, ornamental grasses, nandina firepowers, mums, knockout roses, and climbing roses were all planted by me. The common problem for all beds is soil. Its clumpy and mostly clay. The baby shrubs all have wet feet and the soil rarely dries even though it gets full sun.
7. Back beds (near house)
I transplanted several of the shrubs and ornamental grasses you see in the photos from the sides of the house. They are doing fine for now, but these beds have the same, if not worse, clay soil as the front beds and NEVER dry because they all received only part, if any, sun. Ive also test planted a couple of creeping-jenny specimens in the shadiest/wettest bed in hopes that it will thrive.
8. Back bed (top of slope)
Fortunately, this bed is well drained because of its location and Ive managed to remove most of the clay and replace with local top soil from the back part of the back lawn. All that you see in the photo was either purchased or transplanted by me: haite hibiscus, radican gardenia, dwarf gardenia, traditional gardenia, tulip magnolia, sweet olives, crepe myrtles. I planted a different type of ground cover in this bed, which is a golden sedum variety. Almost all of the plants you see in this bed get good sun throughout the day.
9. Finally, Ive some sort of pest that barrels under the ground and leaves large mounding trails of dirt. Its only in the back yard near the top of the slope. Ive never seen the pest nor any hole from which it would escape. Im guessing its a mole, but I have no proof. I do have a photo of one of the trails.
In conclusion, Im looking for some landscaping/rehabilitation ideas for everything mentioned above. The only thing Ive got booked is a nice aeration/sanding of the entire lawn bed, and cultivating sand into the existing beds or digging out the clay and replacing with high quality sandy loam. My biggest problem is money, I dont have a bunch to fully sod the back and side areas with St. Augustine, nor can I hire someone to remove the nasty pines or do this task for me. Nothing is out of the question. If I can do it myself, I will remove trees, shrubs, grass, etc if in the best interest of the overall landscape. Id love to turn some attention to the house itself in 2009, i.e., painting, tiling, flooring, etc, but Ive got to get my yard right first. Please feel free to give me any advice you think will help, even if it will sting. All recommendations will be strongly considered, from converting to rock garden, water feature, anything!!! Thanks in advance for your help.
Here is a complete listing of the photos: