Reigning in Garden Projects?

1 05 2010

Between a gardener and non-gardener such as my hubby and I, the wise non-gardener (W) should provide the reality check for highly ambitious schemes cooked up by the gardener (me).

  • I’d like to replace the complete back lawn with a pond and island for the 100 foot plus Ponderosa Pine that sits right in the center.
  • I’d like to enlarge the deck off the master bedroom on the second floor, install a hut tub and spiral wrought iron staircase for early morning access into the garden in my PJs.
  • I’d like a Japanese “Teahouse” in the bottom right hand corner of the back garden. The “Teahouse” would be the perfect writing studio or “woman” cave to escape to when the dogs take complete control of the leather chairs and remote inside.

W has the knack of scoping projects; seeing the construction challenges and long term maintenance obligations. I visualize the finished look, he sees the project for the effort and complexity involved.  He also knows that as the sole weekend gardener of our property, I’m nudging up to the limit of what I can reasonably maintain. I have enough beds and pathways to look after; I really don’t need any more.

Last Sunday though, he stunned me.

Right after I’d finished mowing the back lawn, he made his way onto the deck and started to converse:

“Have you ever thought of replacing the muddy side of the lawn with some flowers and a pathway?” He questioned.

“Say, what?” I replied, stunned to my muddy gardening boots.

“Another bed, with the native plants that you like so much, and a pathway leading to the wetland area of the garden? You could get rid of the muck patch and have more flowers to tend.”

Huh??? My head was spinning.

I rely heavily on W on to keep my gardening exploits in check. He reminds me not to overdo it, and  jokes that I will someday ask him to install floodlights so I can garden into the wee hours. And now he was suggesting a new gardening project.

A project I’d never even contemplated.
A project that would take many hours of work and result in yet another garden bed to maintain.

An unfurled garden hose happened to be snaked across the lawn and before I knew it, we were marking out the contours of a new garden bed.

At it’s widest part it’s 8 feet, curved into a weird half moon shape. The plan would be to add a 2 foot wide path along the current lawn edge to give access to the “wetland” area.

Now, there’s a solid reason why W is suggesting getting rid of that portion of the lawn. It’s not a lawn, it’s not a moss patch. It’s  a mud pit most of the year and a dried cracked clay pot the rest. Nothing wants to grow there because the area needs some serious drainage work. The more I think about it, the more W’s suggestion makes sense.

I could try and fix the drainage problem and replant the lawn, hoping enough filtered light makes it through the tree canopy to keep the grass reasonably happy. More appealing though is W’s idea of removing the lawn in that area and planting a bed of moisture loving “wet feet” plants. Ferns  (of course), Variegated Dogwood, geums, rushes, and grasses.

What do you think?

How would you address the obvious drainage issue, if you wanted to fix it?

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8 responses

1 05 2010
RBell

In my shady areas, I have always viewed the loss of grass as the final indication that a garden bed was destined for that spot (my problem is physically & financially keeping pace with creating the “new beds” exposed by the shrinking turf!). Though I have no bog-like areas in my garden, I would think a bed of adapted plants would allow you to bring in some new & interesting plants that have not yet joined your garden.

1 05 2010
Linda

A boggy area is a great description. This is not a big gardening weekend for me as family are visiting but I did manage to do a rough outline of the pathway in the muck. I’m committed to the project now. Next weekend, sayonara lawn.

1 05 2010
Laura

Go for the fern garden, it will look great against a path. New beds are always fun!

1 05 2010
Linda

There will be ferns for sure! Next weekend, I hope to get some traction with the project. Bye, bye lawn.

5 05 2010
Meredith

A fern garden would look lovely! Ferns really take me to another world — I intend to grow some here, but like RBell, I don’t have the ideal boggy spot (we both live in the Austin area). But they are so scenic — go for it!

5 05 2010
Linda

Thanks for dropping by Meredith. I should have thought of the fern garden a while back, especially since Bracken and Western Sword Ferns are native to the property. Happy Wednesday!

6 05 2010
Amanda

I like your idea of the adapted plants/ferns. I came late to the game here on your decision, but I’m still gonna add my two cents if you don’t mind ;-) If you were to fix the drainage, you would have to consider where you are sending the water, instead of having it sit in your yard. My neighbor wanted to add a French drain type thing, but realized she would just be sending the water to her other neighbor’s already saturated lawn.

Your soil looks very organic. Do you know what soil order/series you have? I could guess for you, but I’d have to know exactly where you live, and I’m totally not trying to stalk you. You can figure out using the NRCS web soil survey. This might give you some ideas of other plants that are specifically adapted to your soil. Knowing the topography would help you determine if draining was even feasible without annoying your neighbors.

-Nerdly in TX

7 05 2010
Linda

Amanda: Thanks for jumping into the discussion. Point very well taken about fixing the drainage problem and inadvertently diverting the water onto a neighbor’s property. On our property, we have a natural wetland area where I could divert the water. The problem is tree roots once we start digging any depth. I don’t want to run into the issues we had when installing wooden fences a few years ago, so I’m probably not going to fix the drainage problem. I’ll plant a large bed of native plants that will thrive there. I’ve been to NRCS website this eve but have had problems loading some of the data; will try again tomorrow. I believe the soil is clay, but as you rightly guessed there is a good amount of organic material accumulated from decades of leaf and pine needle drop. Appreciate your “nerdy” (!) input.

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