Monday, September 20, 2010

Fighting for the bed!

Heh. And now I bet you're wondering what in the *world* I'm talking about, right? Did the philosopher make me sleep on the couch? Have we been overtaken by cimex lectularious? Or has the cat gone rabid and taken refuge in the master suite? Nope! None of the above!

You've read about our War Against The Pool. You've seen the results of the battle. Now we have created a blank slate, and are working to install a beautiful new shrub bed and cobblestone patio in its place. So why is it a fight? Well, do recall that we live in Alabama. And you do know that Alabama is notorious for its red clay. And, if you glance at the pictures I linked to above, the new shrub bed is backed by a row of 40-year-old holly bushes. So... red clay plus holly roots plus no rain for three weeks make for... concrete-like dirt.

We've amended the soil with manure, hummus, and potting mix (bought in bulk from our favorite local landscaping supply store (and no, by that we do not mean "Lowes" or "Home Depot"). Two weekends ago I edged the new materials with plastic edging so it wouldn't wash away. We hauled in the dirt via truck and trailer, so after we got the dirt in place we could actually sow our initial grass seed. We opted for a cheap rye grass, again just to hold the soil in place until we can reseed with something better in the spring. I also re-planted all the perennial herbs... I had to dig them up when we removed the pool and they've been languishing in pots. Now they're in the ground again with a beautiful new layer of mulch to keep them safe over the winter. And they're right by the patio, so there's easy access from the kitchen!

The reason the herb bed's not finished is because there where you see the clay at the bottom of the picture is where the edge of cobblestone patio will run. Once that part of the project is done I can add the other border stone and finish out the mulch.

This past weekend I spent a large portion of Friday and half of Saturday building the stone border for the large bed by the hollies. It's about 40 feet long, and averages to seven feet wide. The stones came from the mountain behind the house, and are the same field stone that our house facade is made of. I really like the way it looks, and it ties the back yard into to look of the house.

I really, really had fun doing this. It's like combining Tetris and Lego and aesthetics all at once! You have to make sure the stones fit together, and find smaller stones to fill in the gap, and make sure it has a pleasing curve. Of course, after two days of hauling rocks around, I am ... sore. But it's all worth it! This weekend we're heading down to Wayside Nursery (a wholesale shrub and tree company) and we'll pick up our 15-gallon Dynamite crape myrtle, our Henry's Garnet sweetspire, our August Beauty gardenias and Doc Sargent camilla, our Gold flame nandinas and our crimson pygmy barberrys. And since we're watering the grass (it's still scraggly right now, but at least it's growing!) we can set the sprinkler to make sure it gets the new shrubs too. Then they can grow their roots all winter and be fresh and happy in the spring. Yay, plants!! ::happy dance:: Ahem. Sorry. I got excited there for a minute!

Yeah, this whole project is a lot of work - shrub bed and grass and patio and such - because we're doing it all ourselves. But considering if we had hired it done it would be well over 10k - and that doesn't include the pool removal - I'm quite happy getting this done for less than a thousand dollars. And having a beautiful back yard instead of a non-functioning pool will make our house more sellable... and that's looking more and more like something we'll be needing to do next summer. (!!!)

No comments: