Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Little Curb Appeal

Admittedly, our yard has gotten a little out of control.  The sod, and the weeds are literally destroying any type of "planting bed" that we have in our yard.  This is in all beds, one in the front, one along the side and two in the back.  So we decided that we would take care of this issue in stages... one bed at a time.  And because our front yard is the one that most people see, it's the one that we decided to tackle first.

Here is what the bed looked like at the beginning of this quest:

Note that there is no visible boundary between the yard and the bed...
Where is the bed exactly?, you ask... well it is just in front of the two trees, has a bit of a bend to it, and currently has hostas & lilies between it.  Impossible to tell, I know.  So Matt and I set to work to fix this issue.  Of course by 9am when we started, it was already in the low 80's, so conditions weren't exactly ideal, but we worked our butts off - and I mean that quite literally.

I used the shovel seen in this photo, and Matt used a pick axe (which was by far the superior tool) to make this bed better.  I scooped out the perimeter with the shovel, and then we went to work removing the sod and the weeds.

First problem that we encountered, this bed is filled with rocks, from where, I don't know, but the axe helped a lot in this area.  Second problem, we dug up somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 small bulbs, most of which I expect are either grape hyacinths or crocuses... Problem number three was that it became very clear that previous to this layout that we inherited, there was a great deal of ground cover in this area, as we encountered a TON of spidery roots just under the surface.  I was annoyed that the bulbs were planted so close to the surface, as I'm pretty sure I pulled up a few daffodil bulbs as well, and quickly replaced them.  I am planning, once the weather has cooled to throw the small bulbs back in the ground and see what happens in the spring!

Our goal was to create a completely manageable, and cheaper "trench bed", where no landscaping border was required, and no edging of the lawn would be required.  This will make the upkeep of this area much easier for us.  It also made the project cheaper as bricks, wood, or any other misc. landscaping border techniques can add considerable cost to your project.

To do this we made a very clear line between the grass and the dirt, digging down around 3 inches to make an obvious distinction.  After we removed the sod and weeds and tilled the soil a bit, we added two bags of hummus and 8 bags of topsoil to the bed.  We mixed the new soil in with the old, and mounded it up toward the back, maintaining a "trench" at the front.  This makes it easy to prevent over watering, it also allows you to put the wheel of the lawn mower here for easy trimming.

So after several hours, the use of dozens of tools from our garage, 10 bags of dirt & at least 4 water bottles full of ice water, this is what we had done (note that the shadow of the trees make it harder to see):



You can see an edge, and even dirt!  Where before all you saw were weeds and grass.  And there is an extra shot of the trench so you can see our plan.  Next year we will plan what we want to plant where.  I think adding a little color under the burning bushes is necessary, however it has to be something that complements the bright red color that they will become in the next few months!

I am happy with the change, and looking forward to working on all the other beds in the yard!

What curb appeal changes have you been making to your homes?


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