Monday, June 10, 2013

No more grass....

Yesterday, we hired some local gardeners to bring out a sod cutter and remove our dead grass.  We had planned on doing this ourselves, although everyone who has been through this program says that this is the worst job ever, and if you're going to hire one thing out, it should be this.  We called over to Home Depot to find out about renting a sod cutter, and it would have been 89 dollars for the day.  Plus, it won't fit in a vehicle, so we'd have to rent a truck and trailer to bring it home.  We might have been able to rent it for four hours to save 25 bucks, but all in all, we figured we'd need plenty of time.  By the time we added it all up, it was going to cost us 150 dollars for the tool/truck rental -- and that was before we put in any labor of our own (plus dump fees for getting rid of the dead grass).  So we called a couple of places and were happy to hear the quotes - 350-400 dollars, which was entirely reasonable.  And best of all, they said they could do it the next day.  So now we have this:
yep, just dirt.  Our neighbors are also doing their yard, and they have only dirt, too, so we aren't embarrassing anyone too much!  This week we have to do a check on our irrigation system, which we will be converting to drip, but we do have at least one leak in the pipes near our neighbor's house, so we are going to fix that.  Then rototill and amend the soil. 

In the meantime, we went to a plant selection class, and as everyone was arriving, signing in, etc, there was a name and phone number projected on the screen, with the title: Free Dymondia.  We wrote that right down, and after class, we went by and scored 8 flats of dymondia.  Here it is in our holding zone:
 We also planted some up by the front of the garage, and around our labyrinth plot.  I spent the rest of the week digging/weeding/conditioning the soil, and now we are here:

we are busy tamping down the paths, and we picked up some paper to lay down a weed barrier.  Because this labyrinth won't be there forever, we are trying to do this as cheap as possible. We did pick up some plants, all the parats that are outlined by white flour are going to be planted, and the paths will be covered in either gravel, decomposed granite, or mulch, whatever we can score the cheapest (or free!  I love free!)  I have lots of plants around the yard that we can move over, or divide and put pieces here.  And I have to finish the surround of dymondia.

Originally, I had marked out a slightly different plan, but Dale said he wished we could figure out a plan where we don't go in, then just turn around and walk the same path out, so this one has an entrance and exit.

We fiddled around with the original plan until we got it to work out, then test walked it a few times.  I like this one, it starts off with a lot of zigs and zags, but as you walk it, the runs get longer and you end up more relaxed.  Ha, now that I look at that diagram above, it looks vaguely biological, like intestines! 

We also made a few kokedama, moss surrounded plant balls suspended from strings.  One of my students created a how-to video in our technology class, and I've wanted to make some ever since then.  (here's the video tutorial:

So that's where we're at.  Tomorrow I hope to get the paper down on our labyrinth path, and maybe get started on the front yard as well --

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

We are approved!

We got our official notice today - we are approved for the Lawn 2 Garden grant, and we can get started on our landscape plan!  We actually started killing the grass 2 weeks ago --

Round up.  Round one.

two weeks later, and it looks like this:
it actually looks much worse now, after round two.  But yesterday, as per instructions, we fertilized the dead grass (!) to see if anything grows, and then, it'll be round three of Round up.  Then, rent a sod cutter, and pull it all out.  Probably next week.  We also decided to kill the grass in the parkway (hell strip), although we did not submit plans for it.  We are only going to get $3 per square foot for the first 1000 square feet, and the main part of the yard is over that.  So we are killing the grass on the parkway but probably won't be planting anything there for awhile.  Maybe just throw some mulch down until we decide to work on that, too.
So this is the plan we came up with. We visited a lot of yards and nurseries, and used the online resources to come up with the plants we wanted.  They're all numbered there, here's the list of plants:
1.  Pride Of Madeira             Echium candicans 
2. King Palm Archontophoenix cunninghamian
3. Strelitzia nicolai   Giant Bird Of Paradise
4. Compact Gold Coin            Asteriscus maritimus       
5. Century Plant, Maguey     Agave americana
6. Lamb's Ears           Stachys byzantina  
7. Mexican Bush Sage           Salvia leucantha
8. Pygmy Date Palm, Roebelin Palm    Phoenix roebelenii
9. Kleinia        Senecio mandraliscae        
10. Kangaroo Paws   Anigozanthos hybrids        
11. Shasta Daisy        Chrysanthemum maximum          
12. Dwarf Callistemon Callistemon 'Little John'
13. Lygeum sparteum  Esparto Grass
14. Leonotis leonorus  Lion's Tail
15. Calla Lily Zantedeschia aethiopica    
16. Agastache rupestris  Licorice Mint
17. Aeonium arboretum  Parasol Aeonium
18. Medio Picta Century Plant         Agave americana medio-picta
       Yellow Margin Century Plant   Agave americana v. marginata
       Agave parryi v. huachucensis  Huachuca Agave
19. Yucca elephantipes  Yucca Tree
20.  Pink Stripe Flax Phormium 'Pink Stripe'     
21. Rainbow Warrior New Zealand Flax     Phormium tenax 'Rainbow Warrior'
22. Purple Fountain Grass   Pennisetum 'Rubrum'       
23. Dymondia, Rock Ditty     Dymondia margaretae
24. Gazania hybrids  Hybrid Gazanias
25. Australian Tree Fern      Cyathea cooperi 

Some of these plants we already have, and while we have mapped them in at their mature size above, they'll be little sprigs when we actually plant them.   We did do a cheesy photoshop of how we think they might look --
 yea, someday.  But we were pretty happy with this plan.  

In the meantime, we also are kind of frustrated with the backyard.  Ever since we cut down the large tree that dropped SO MUCH TRASH all over the yard, we can't keep the grass alive back there (there isn't a irrigation system back there.  There is one in the front, although it doesn't work well, and we have to convert it to drip as part of this next process.  but I digress).  Anyway, it gets to be a desert back there.  So we are going to do a few things to tide the yard over until we actually get a pool put in.  We are using the front section as a holding ground for some ground cover --
dymondia on the right, and ajuga on the left.  We want to see how they do in the sun - the grass is particularly hard to grow right in this space, due to the heat from the surrounding concrete.  
Yea, that's some dead grass, and hard-packed dirt.  Lovely.  So what I did was pound a stake in the middle of the yard, run an 8' string out and spray paint a circle:
and sprayed RoundUp in the circle.  Which is almost redundant, but I tell you, when you WANT the grass to die, it's hard to kill.  So what am I going to do in that circle?

some kind of labyrinth!  I like this one (via Pinterest), but I have lots of other designs I have saved, too.  You can look at some of them here, or you can search 'back yard labyrinth' on Pinterest and see LOTS MORE.  

So I am going to kill the remaining grass, lay down some landscape fabric (or newspaper layers), and then cover it with mulch (which we can get free from the city), and then create the lines in our labyrinth with bricks, plants, rocks, etc.  I like this style of labyrinth, called 'Santa Rosa' --
I marked out 16' in diameter, so that should make a reasonable sized path.  

So.....more projects!  Will our kitchen ever get done?  eventually!  But it's so lovely outside, and I can't pass up a chance to make our environment a little nicer.  

Blogging tips