Slowly, but surely, I'm making some progress on the garden plan that I envisioned for our back garden in my January post, So Here's the Plan.
One of the features I wanted to add was a rainbarrel, to help with a drainage problem we have and also to give me some good water with which to water the patio plants and any other plants in times of drought.
Rainbarrel - check.
You might notice that the rainbarrel is not centered on the little pad we built for it and also that it overhangs the edge of the house wall.
For some reason, it seems like everything we try and do in this garden is a challenge. Every project seems to involve a lot of problem solving before it can go into effect. The rain barrel was no different.
In this case, we couldn't line the barrel up with the corner on the wall because the downspout is right on the corner and, as you can see, in order for it to drain into the barrel, we had to move it further right that we would have liked to. And we couldn't center the rainbarrel on it's pad because there's a sprinkler head just to the left of the pad so we had to move the pad over to the right even more.
On a more cheerful note, remember those utility boxes in the corner that I wanted to hide? (Ignore the really lousy grass, that will have to be the subject of a separate post, when I have the heart for it)
Anyway, back to the subject, I had originally planned to put an arbor and bench there to hide the boxes. But we started thinking about it and came to the decision that because the area is in full sun, we realized we wouldn't actually sit there, so I started thinking about alternatives.
Last weekend, we were in Lowe's and I happened to catch sight of something I thought would be ideal for hiding the utility boxes. I had actually wanted something like it before but didn't know such a thing existed. I was really excited when I saw it and, since it was reasonably priced, I grabbed it right there and put it in our cart.
It's a little vinyl lattice fence, four feet wide and three feet tall. It has stakes on the bottom, so I was able to stake it directly into the ground in front of the boxes. It hides the utility boxes from most angles. There's a holly bush on either side and a couple of plants in front of it, but I'm going plant behind it also and add some containers in front, including a vine, and create a butterfly garden. I moved the stones out a little bit to make room.
Continuing the good news -- the Mars grape vine my husband chose is doing very well and appears to be covered in bunches of grapes!
And now for the project that is giving me sleepless nights -- the shady area on the north side of the house, by the patio.
As you can see, it gets deep shade most of the day (but not all of the day, it does get sun in the late afternoon.) In addition, a lot of the grass died from root rot at the end of last year. So now it's basically a mass of weeds - very depressing to look out at.
So next on my list of projects is to do something with this area. On my original plan, I drew a curved border along the back of the house, but left the details "to be determined."
I thought vaguely about a mulched area with "low growing plants." They would have to be low-growing because of one of those challenges I mentioned earlier -- there's a row of sprinkler heads across the back and I don't want to block them by planting shrubs right in front of them. And then there's the choice of plant -- the area is in deep shade most of the day, but in summer, with the sun more or less directly overhead, part of the area would be in blazing sunlight, and it would also get direct sun in the afternoon.
I've been reading up on possibles but really am clueless at this point. I had considered dwarf lily turf as a ground cover, also known as mondo grass, because I saw an area at Mercer Arboretum like that and thought it looked really nice. But then I learned that real gardeners frown on mondo grass.
We may just go ahead and create the mulched border (so I don't have to look at the weeds) and wait for a while before putting anything in it. Or heck, maybe we should haul in some river rock in and dump it there.
To be honest, the damaged lawn and this shady area have me pretty depressed, even overshadowing the pleasant weekend I had, planting some flowers in the front flowerbed.
If we had money to burn, I'd have a professional come in and give us some ideas, but we don't so we have to figure it out ourselves.
Or should I say, I have to figure it out myself (with a little help from my friends - that's you!), since my husband is willing to provide the muscle, but admits he doesn't know anything about landscaping or gardening.
Okay, so now it's late and I'm bummed out, let me try and cheer myself up by showing you some bluebonnets we saw last weekend.
Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.