29 May 2011

(Really long) Outdoor updates!

I know I posted that picture of our new green wall, with the title "Preview!" In reality, that wall remains the only green one in the house.  Other things have taken precedence.  One, work for me got crazy (as the end of the semester always is), so nothing house-wise got done for several weeks.  Two, the weather got warm, so work moved outdoors. 

The first order of business was the back fence.  As I have alluded to in the past, we share a fence with the house diagonally behind us.  That section of the fence actually belongs to them; the rest of our fence is attached to that one.  Those neighbors own two large dogs, one of which seems to be really dog aggressive.  It has also, in the past, jumped their fence into our yard (it happened before we lived here, but their owner told me about it).  This dog is probably around 50 pounds - five times bigger than Milano.  She wouldn't have a chance, but she doesn't seem to know that (stupid small-dog syndrome!). She barks right back at the big one. 

So we needed to do something.  We thought it would be a little rude to simply put up a new wood fence along theirs, so we went with something more natural.  Bushes seemed to be a logical choice.  We went with a variety of Japanese Holly, as that is what we have in the front of our house and they are certainly big enough to get the job done.  We were looking for something at least six feet tall at maturity.  The fence is about four feet, and the larger dog can put his front paws on it to look over.  We figured an extra two feet would take care of that.  We also wanted the bushes to mesh together to form a solid barrier - a hedge, essentially.  The holly we bought also gets about six feet across, so we planted them three and a half feet apart.  When they are fully grown, they should be intertwined. 

As for our budget, we had seen some bushes going for around $50.  These were bigger, more mature bushes.  When we first counted out how many we needed, we came up with the number nine.  So our original budget, when factoring in soil and mulch, exceeded $1000.  Given that it was time-sensitive (we wanted to get them in the ground in early spring to give them a good chance at survival), we were just going to take the hit and pay ourselves back over time.  So we went to Home Depot ... where we found much smaller bushes at $15 a piece.  Score.  So we bought nine of them, and came home.

At this point, I have to thank my darling husband.  He planted all nine all by himself, while I stayed inside and graded.  And he didn't complain.  Isn't he wonderful?

At some point during the day, we realized we were one short.  Cue some cursing, but we decided to put it off until the next weekend.  And then on Wednesday of that week, once I had posted grades and was done with my semester, I decided to surprise Isaac and go out, get the last bush, and have it in the ground before he came home for lunch.  As I should have known, I was going down a road that was paved with good intentions.  Two catastrophes prevented me from completing this.  I will illustrate them with images:

This is red stone.  As soon as I broke ground for the last bush, I hit rock.  As it turns out, under a deceptive shallow undergrowth lies an 18-inch-wide, six-inch-deep, THIRTY-FEET-LONG trough of red landscaping rock.  It's been buried so long, it's completely intermixed with dirt and, without digging it all out and washing it off, it's completely unusable as landscaping decoration.  But in order to plant anything (it was in the way of my last bush, and we plan on planting liriope under the trees that the rock trough is bordering), it has to be dug out. 

I had to take out two feet of it in order to get to the spot where the last bush was supposed to go.  Now, I'm not the strongest or most efficient shoveler ever, but I had it down to a science pretty quick (break it up with the sharp-nosed shovel, rake it with the bow rake, then shovel it with the flat shovel).  It still took me TWO HOURS to dig out two feet.  At that rate, even with Isaac and I both working, we're looking at 15+ hours of hard digging to get all the rock out.  And then we will be left with a ditch in our back yard. Ugh.  Anyway, I was about halfway done digging out the two feet of rock when Isaac came home for lunch.  Instead of surprising him with a nicely planted bush, I got to break the news of our rock trench.  Fail #1.

And then came Fail #2:
At least, I think this was the culprit.  I had just put the bush in the ground and was filling dirt and soil in around the roots when I felt something stinging my knee.  I was kneeling at the time, so I just brushed off my knee, thinking something had poked through my pants.  But then the stinging started moving down my leg.  Yikes!  I pulled up my pant leg, and saw four little red dots going down my leg.  Something had crawled up my pants and stung me!  And boy, did it sting.  At that point, my only thought was "How many of them crawled up my pants?!" ... so with the bush only half in the ground, I ran inside and jumped in the shower.  To hell with surprising Isaac. 

And those bites stung for two hours.  Ouch!

When Isaac got home, he graciously finished my doomed project.  And thus ends this long bush saga.  Isaac planted 9.5 of them, and I managed to get attacked and unearth another weekend-long project.  Go me.

Here's the final product:
We know it will be years before they are tall enough to protect the puppy, but the whole project (including soil, and the mulch we will eventually buy to put around them, cost under $200.  Woo hoo!

And I'll close with some garden updates.  It has really taken off! (The pictures are all saved facing the correct way, but apparently Blogger wants them all horizontal.)
Potatoes (And you can see the bean plans on the right.  I forgot to take a picture of the whole patch.)
Bell peppers
Swiss chard
And our first sprout - beans!!
And that's about it.  Here's a preview for our Memorial Day weekend project:

 Or, better yet:
And now, Isaac is in the garage doing more hard labor, and I'm sitting in our air-conditioned house typing.  I should do something constructive. 

Happy Memorial Day!

1 comment:

  1. This is the thing I dread about having a house some day: yard work. Landscaping. Anything involving the outdoors & making it functional & good looking. But you guys will be such pros by then that I'll just call you over to help me.... :)


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