Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Garden makeover

AS you are probably aware the sister bought a new house earlier this year and its internal paint and decorate is nearly complete.  Now that spring has sprung it is time to look at the outside and start with the garden makeover.  Apparently I am the only one in the family that actually enjoys mowing but as I have the classic quarter acre here I'm not so keen to take on hers as well.   So we have decided to create a no mow front lawn.  The plan, well if you can call it a plan, is to kill off the lawn with newspaper and mulch and plants a zillion flowering plants and shrubs to totally alleviate any mowing.  The front yard is not huge, but we intent to make the driveway wider and link it to the front steps on a solid base, possibly pebble, but maybe concrete. Then the rest of the yard will be planted out.  We will leave a rambling walkway of mulch to the far northern side gate, which is not ever used, but it does provide an alternative walkway to the backyard.  Ultimately the house will be painted too because the colour now is a bit ordinary!

The lawn itself has a small slope from north to south, so taller plants will be at the top nearest the neighbours fence and lower ones towards the front.   There is already some established plants.  A HUGE camellia, 3 azaleas and a big tuft of french lavender.   To supplement this I have bought 3 more camellias, 4 azaleas and 2 lavenders. The general tone of the garden is in purples and pinks with the exception of one "beachy" style daisy which is bright orange.  There are also 3 big brown Yukkas and a stump!  The stump is pretty much centre of the current lawn and sits about 20cm proud of the lawn.  It is too big to dig out and "mostly" level.  As we can't realistically remove it, it will house a   feature of some sort. Perhaps a wire structure, a hebel sculpture or a big timber birdhouse.  Two roses  and two mankey plastic pots with grey/white strappy leaf plants in them are currently accommodated in the yard, but they will all go.  The grey/white leaf plants will be separated and spread thru the lawn and the roses will make their way to the recycling bin, but everything else stays at this stage.

The current layout is that there is a metre wide flower bed running north south on the front boundary fence.  A single height run of coppers log keeps that in place.  The only other bed is 2x1.5m and runs north south along the front of the house. Its held in place with terracotta edging, the majority of which will be removed.  The edge facing the path and steps will be replaced with something else, possibly brick to tie in with the brick steps.

The soil structure is best described as impoverished.  It is very poor quality, dry and devoid of nutrients, but unfortunately healthy enough for grass and weed growth.   By comparison the back lawn is rich and green, but also in need of a good mow!  The back yard has a veggie bed running the full length of the communal southern fence.  It is only about 400mm wide and has some established veggies.  Nero kale and celery mostly.  It will look good with more planting.  There are two other beds in the back yard that need attention. At the moment the front is the priority.  None of the garden has a watering system and there is no rainwater tank.  The garden when established will have to survive on rain alone.

So thats the plan.  Lets see how it all turns out.
The first shot is day one.  The weedy grass is long and Georgia nearly disappears in it.  Visible are the two rose bushes and the terracotta tile garden bed edging.

This shot was taken after I'd mowed down the weeds!

The next two photos are at the end of the day. Both rose bushes are gone, as is the terracotta edging.  Two new camellias, an azalea and a lavender are planted. The grey/white strappy leafed plant in the plastic pots have been divided and planted under the new layer of mulch.

It is an ongoing project and one I am enjoying thus far!

December update:   We spent another day planting some new plants and laying more mulch and the result is shown below.  Since the initial planting there has been very little weed break through and what has come has been removed instantly so as not to get a toe hold back in the garden.  We calculate we need another 16 or so plants in 8 inch pots or bigger and about 6 cubic metres of mulch for get it finished.  Then we can start on removing the remaining grass and enlarging the drive area.

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