Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Little Landscaping Makes a HUGE Difference Plus Some Stars In the Garden

I can hardly believe tomorrow is the first day of August! Where has the time gone? What have I been up to? Well, I've been busy as always but what is very different for me is not blogging. I have to be honest, I haven't missed blogging either. I did not expect that and really don't want to lose my 'scrapbook of activities and gardens-called the blog' so I am trying to still put up a post or two while I go through this phase. In addition I do try to post things on my professional page found under Coach In the Garden on Facebook. Today's post is what I did this weekend-worked on my daughters property! 

Mr. Fix-it and I traveled to Louisville to visit my daughter (Liz) and new granddaughter (Everleigh who is four months old). Whenever I get together with Liz our activities include gardening. No big surprise there right? Both of my daughters garden and my older son likes to garden, though he doesn't do much. The younger son (the Jimster) refuses to garden outside. Something about icky spiders and dirt and heat. Ha! You all do know gardening is dirty right? And hard work? I don't really blame Jimmy at all but for the girls and I the benefits of a beautiful landscape far outweigh the discomforts of getting there.
Liz purchased this house last June and as a housewarming present I promised I would do a landscape design for her. The landscape design is completed and over the past year Liz has been slowly implementing the design in stages. It is hard to do this when you are pregnant and have a newborn so the going has been s-l-o-w for her. Much too slow. Enter Mom (garden helper) and Stepdad (baby duty) and some changes miraculously happen-overnight. Or so it seemed to the neighbors who were all quite curious as to what the hard working ladies next door were doing in the yard.
We started by collecting a ton of rocks (four small trailer loads) from an undeveloped part of the subdivision (with the developer's permission of course). The rocks match her house perfectly, are an awesome garden edger, and were FREE! Rocks are very expensive to purchase so if you can find a local source where they are usually very happy to have you haul them away then you should take advantage of it. Once we had a load of rocks we began laying cardboard on the garden to be. Liz had been collecting cardboard for a long time and had plenty to do the job. It is best to spray the grass prior to laying down the cardboard with a weed killer if you have the time and can safely do it without damaging nearby plants. In our case most of the grass had been sprayed but not all. This is not a big problem and it is still okay to cover the grass without spraying, but the grass will take a bit longer to die completely. This is not an issue if you don't plan to plant anytime soon (within two or three seasons). In Liz's case she is in no hurry. One more note, if you plan to plant a lot of perennials you might wish to use paper bags or newspapers in place of the cardboard. Cardboard is a bit tougher to cut through when planting but it is not an impossible job. I personally prefer cardboard under shrubs and paper under perennials.
Be sure to cover all grass thoroughly. Liz was pretty good at this job. My job was to trench the edge of the garden while she lay the cardboard and rocks. Then we all (Mr. Fix-it, Liz, and myself) spread the mulch over the cardboard. The mulch need be no deeper than 2-3". The point is to cover the ugly cardboard with pretty mulch and make the mulch thick enough that it will not wash away.
Her garden design encompassed a major part of the frontyard. There will actually be just about a ten foot grass path through the frontyard when all is said and done. Also, the hell strip will become a perennial garden. Looking at this view you can see we still have a lot to do, but for now the front garden closest to the house and the eastern side of the house is complete.
Part of planting this garden meant relocating laurels that were planted about two feet from the house in this location. The limelights are planted five feet from the house. They look quite forlorn out there in the middle of the garden but trust me when I say they will grow quickly and will soon fill in this space. I always allow for a few feet between the house and shrubs. It may be that as the 'Limelights' mature Liz may have to prune a bit to maintain that space but it won't be a big problem. Not like she would have to do if the laurels stayed in place. The laurels were moved out back as a border hedge. This subdivision is very new and there are still a ton of houses to be built and which are being built even as you read this post. None of the houses has much landscaping and what they do have is only a builder package next to the homes. Liz's house stands out in that she has planted a beautiful 'Sunburst' magnolia out front by the hell strip along with a few other small trees. Her laurel hedge out back really stands out too in a landscape that includes nothing but grass in all of the surrounding yards. You can see the houses are pretty close together so to differentiate the houses and make them more comfortable and appealing landscaping is needed. Liz will surely reap the benefits of a beautiful landscape soon and I suspect some of the other residents of the subdivision might try to catch up to her as well. Good landscaping can be contagious.
Now in my garden I have to share the 'Limelight' hydrangeas. They are slowly coming into full bloom. I pruned my half a dozen or so 'Limelights' back in March then again in June. The blooms will all be staggered. These blooms pictured here are on the growth from the March pruning. The June pruning is also producing blooms but at a slower rate than these fully opened flowers. The total effect is one that will enable me to enjoy the blooms for a longer period of time. Behind this group of four 'Limelights' is a large group of Joe Pye weed. To the left of the grouping are yellow cannas. Pink, yellows, blues, and whites are a good color combination for me. Out on our farm I have one complete garden dedicated to this color scheme (no reds or oranges are allowed-they are saved for the 'hot' garden). I will share more of the hydrangeas on my professional page found under Coach In the Garden on Facebook.

in the garden....
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden


  1. A lot of hard, dirty work, but definitely well worth it in the end.


  2. Girl, you are one busy gardener! You are obsessed (passionate) with it and I am enjoying watching the progress of all your hard work. I would say take a break and relax but I do feel that gardening is relaxing for you even though work for others such as myself. I wish I had your passion during this heat but just cannot find myself wanting to get into the garden. You ROCK as a gardener girl.....

  3. Liz's landscaping is looking good. Nice to have a clean slate to start with. Love the cardboard idea for under shrubs. I use a lot of newspaper the same way. We've found scalping the grass with a weed eater helps it die faster too. Your hydrangeas are beautiful. Still looking good. You're busy with all the gardens you're working on. Nice to have the blog to document those major projects and keep a record of plants. Always interesting to see what you're working on next.

  4. Wow lots of work here and in your gardens....

  5. Cardboard works wonders!! What a nice mom to do all this, it will make a big impact for Liz AND her neighbors.