Saturday, March 24, 2018

Planning for 2018


Spring is taking it's sweet ol' time getting here this year.

It's still too cold to do anything outside - my thermometer reads -5C/23F right now - and the ground is still frozen solid.  The weather should start to turn soon, though - I have a feeling that I'll be out there by next week (hurray!)

Front walkway on March 13th

There's not much to do in the vegetable beds at this time of year since compost was added in the fall.  Today, I'll be raking the straw off the beds & placing plastic down on a few so that the spring plantings such as onions will have a toastier start.

Clear plastic on a couple of beds back in April 2015

2018 will be all about finishing what I started and getting to some tasks that have been on the “to do” list for a long time.  Keeping up with regular annual maintenance such as weeding and edging is also a priority.

I've been tweaking said "to-do" list and today, I thought I would talk about the plan for the backyard ornamental borders.

Looking towards the hilltop

There are 6 distinct ornamental beds in the backyard.  None are finished, per say, but all except one have been weeded, mulched, edged and existing shrubs/perennials have been aggressively pruned or removed altogether.

Progress being made on one of the beds last year

At this point, I'm aiming for a clean slate.  I don't want to start adding new plant material until I'm satisfied that troublesome weeds and/or invasives have been dealt with so this year I'll only be topping up mulch, edging and staying on top of weeding.  In terms of the existing plants, my focus will be on pruning shrubs and removing a couple of shrub honeysuckles that are a pain-in-the-butt.  I'll also be continuing my battle to eliminate the buckthorn & some kind of bamboo grass that's always leaning over and smacking us in the face when we walk down the path - seriously!

Thankfully not a spreading bamboo, but trying to dig it up resulted
in a few expletives (from my husband) and a broken shovel,
so we are going with the black plastic and continuous cutting back approach
in the hopes of starving it to death.

The one ornamental bed that is still untouched is right at the base of our hill - this is the year when it finally gets cleaned up.  This bed is not only overgrown and weedy but it’s also riddled with buckthorn.

The jungle bed, back in 2015.
It provides us with a good privacy screen but not much else

I'm planning to tackle this bed first, hopefully before anything starts growing, 'cause we all know how that goes - spring growth progresses at lightening speed once it starts.

Lastly, there is the area in front of our two sheds which has always been difficult to mow.  We're not the best when it comes to weed whackering, so by mid-summer it was inevitably a mess of overgrown grass, dead grass (from the continuous back and forth with the tractor) and weeds.  Last year we finally got around to sheet mulching this area.  The only thing left to do, which is on the schedule for this year, is install edging and top up the mulch/remove any weeds that poke through.

The before shot
This area was mulched late last year but I didn't get around to taking a photo
(you can tell that I'm about utility first and beautification second -
at some point, I'm sure I'll get around to "prettying-up" the sheds😀)

Did you catch how I slipped "install edging" into that last paragraph?  That's something I didn't think I would ever do.  In the ornamental borders, we do a cut edge using a half-moon edger, but for this area, we need a physical barrier.

Now, I’ve always hated plastic edging* and in fact removed a ton of it from various borders when we moved here.  In this particular case, however, it’s necessary as we need a sturdy edge that we can step on and drive over with the tractor, wheelbarrow and wagon when going back and forth from the shed.

*I felt a little guilty saying that I "hate" plastic edging, which I always have, since my attitude has changed, just a smidgen, recently.  No - really.  In my garden travels over the past couple of years, I must admit that I've seen several instances where it served its purpose (keeping mulch in and grass out) AND it was unobtrusive in that you could barely see it unless you were right next to the bed.  Of course, it also means less maintenance since you eliminate all that manual edging each year.  The caveat here is that it has to be the commercial grade stuff (i.e. which is 5-6" in depth and much sturdier) and - this is the biggie - installed correctly, which most edging is not.  Although I still doubt that I would use it in the ornamental borders unless maintenance became an issue (none of us are getting any younger, now, are we??), seeing it used correctly in these gardens was rather eye-opening.  Just sayin'.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

20 comments:

  1. It looks so cold there still. I'm hoping that we've seen the last of the snow now, though it's forecast to get colder again next week. It sounds like you've got plenty of jobs on your list again but I think the top of any gardeners list year after year are the weeds. We've got marestail in our garden and we've never managed to get rid of it completely.

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    1. Yes, this winter just won't let up! Thankfully the sun is out a lot more lately which makes a big difference, even if it's still rather chilly. Very true about weeding - it is - or should be! - a priority (our worst is bindweed). One lesson learned is that a few minutes here and there does wonders and saves you hours down the road.

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  2. Looks like you will really get things under control this year. I hope your edging work out well so that it is less work for you. Still cold here and I have not planted anything yet plus have bad fatigue. We are all anxious for nice weather! Nancy

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    1. Thanks Nancy - I hope that you are able to rest up and get your energy back. Hopefully that warm weather hurries up and gets here!

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  3. I didn't realize how big your backyard was, that's a lot to keep mowed. Your raspberry area and decorative plantings are wonderful. My husband is anti-mowing around things, so no permanent areas for asparagus or fruit trees for me.

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    1. You should see the front yard - lol (we are on a pie shaped lot where the big part of the pie is actually our front yard). I totally get where your husband is coming from - I hate mowing around stuff too, but since I do the mowing I get to decide if the fruit trees, etc., are worth it - and yes, they are ;)

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  4. We've managed a few afternoon's gardening this week but the forecast for next week's weather is rather bleak after the first couple of days.

    I really envy the size of your garden.

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    1. We are finally seeing some above zero temps next week, but unfortunately at least 2 of those days will be rainy. At this point, though, Thursday looks VERY promising with a high of 15 and sunny. Fingers crossed!

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  5. You have a HUGE space! That bamboo would drive me nuts, too. I've never been a fan of edging, either. I'm always changing my beds borders and would have to move the edging every year!

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    1. We have been hacking away at that dang bamboo grass for a couple of years now & I am finally beginning to see some improvement - it's a tough bugger! Ah yes, the edging - I love a nice, cut edge both for looks and flexibility. At this point, it's not that difficult to maintain (so long as I keep on top of it each year!) and I can only hope that I'm still be saying that in 30 years ;)

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  6. I don't envy you all that mowing, or the snow for that matter either. Most of the area around my house and veggie garden is basically natural. The biggest single task is whacking the grass down before fire season starts, but fortunately the dry summer means it doesn't grow back until winter rains come along so it's a once a year job. I do have a couple of beds near the house that would be ornamental if I took the trouble to maintain them, which is actually on my to do list this year!

    Wishing you a quick start to spring. Go away snow and cold!

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    1. Thanks Michelle :) I'm not much one for grass either and could definitely do with less of it - such is life when you are on a septic system. Other than that, though, it's not a huge deal otherwise as I don't bother with fertilizing nor do I water unless we haven't had rain for a couple of months or so and dormant grass threatens to turn into dead grass. I use a lawn tractor to mow which takes just over 2 hours and is actually quite relaxing. Not the most environmentally friendly way to cut the grass but I do tend to hold off on doing it as long as I can so it usually only gets cut every 2-3 weeks, depending on how much rain we get. I figure that my procrastination is actually good for the planet ;)


      And yes...enough of you, cold, chilly days...bring on the spring!

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  7. Unless it's a raised bed, my preferred edging is a shallow trench, I think some people call it an "English trench".

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    1. Yes! That is exactly what we do for the ornamental beds. I call it a "cut" edge since you cut into the soil to create the edge and, just as you say, a trench is created between the grass and the bed. I had never heard of an English trench...now I have a name for it!

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  8. I feel guilty complaining about my wet soil when yours is still frozen! We removed a lot of plastic edging here when we moved in. We now have some heavy duty metal edging for the landscaping around the house, installed by someone younger and stronger than me (the landscapers)!

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    1. The area we are going to edge isn't that long so I'm hoping we (and our backs) won't be suffering for it after the fact :) Metal edging is another great idea - I've heard of it but can't recall ever seeing it in action.

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  9. OMG our gardens and to do lists seem so similar.....it feels great to know I have another gardener working on the same things, and keeping me motivated. Here's to hoping our spring gets warmer and drier soon for both of us!

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    1. Isn't it great to compare notes on the garden, especially as we are in such similar climates? And yes to warmer and definitely drier...the rain is still coming down so things will likely be soggy for a few days anyhow.

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  10. Oh wow, frozen ground still! Did you guys get hit by the Nor'easter recently? Springtime is firmly in my neck of the woods, but we got a solid 3" of snow last weekend, which melted the very next day. OMG, bamboo! It can deceptively look nice in small quantities but it's so invasive. Fortunately, I've never had to deal with it but I know plenty of people who thought it would make a nice accent in their garden and then spend countless hours trying to control it.

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    1. We didn't get hit by the Nor'easter and haven't received that much snow in the past couple of months - but these cold temps are lingering on and on and on. I'm itching for spring to arrive!

      Oh, the bamboo - luckily the one we have is a clumping kind and hasn't spread...BUT it's practically impossible to dig out without some serious machinery, which we do not have. The black plastic and cutting back what peaks out seems to be working as there's a lot less of it than there used to be. Hopefully, one day I'll be able to say..."and then there were none" ;)

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