Saturday, June 1, 2013

Visions-- and Realities

Even before early 2008 when I laid out the crape myrtle bed beside the two steps down to the front sidewalk I've had an idea.  A dream.  If I wanted to be grandiose, I'd say I've had a Vision.  It was to pull up a third to a half of the front lawn in a great curvaceous triangle and convert it to a landscaping bed.  With a footpath winding through it for the lawn mower, the postman, and the neighborhood kids.  And a little paved seating area just big enough for a bistro table and and chair or two, to make up the lack of a front porch to sit out on on summer evenings.

But I had such nice grass it would be a pain and a shame to pull it up, and besides, I didn't have the money.  So a dream it remained.

But this past summer of 2012, that dry summer of 2012, I stinted on watering the lawn.  Economizing.  My sprinkler attachment wasn't working right anyway, and I didn't want to spring for a new one.  But the Scott's guy were still coming round to do the treatments, and at the height of the dryness he applied fertilizer or weed killer or both and over half the yard fried out and turned yellow.

No, I didn't call up Scott's to gripe about it.  Never got around to it.  But eventually, I knew, I'd have to get around to deciding what to do about my largely-dead lawn.  Happily, most of the brown places were where I wanted the shrubs and perennials and things.  Was it time to landscape on some scale, or should I just reseed the lawn?

Whatever I determined, I figured it wouldn't hurt to get rid of the dead grass.  Started the process last November.
Pretty pathetic.  I used to have grass.

That was all for 2012
Was hoping to get it all stripped and amend the soil and maybe overseed it, last winter.  But it was too cold and dark in the evenings and I had other things I could do inside.

So come this spring when the lawn didn't revive on its own, I figured it was now or never.  High time to do the landscaping, though very much on the cheap.  Still, I didn't do anything tangible about it for several weeks.  I had the idea I wanted to design it all out in AutoCAD.  Theoretically could have.  My student-edition AutoCAD license expired in December 2008, but I've got a free download drawing program, DraftSight, on my computer.  But, gulp! it's been so long that I can't remember the blinking commands.  And my computer is so slow it's hard to load the program, let alone use it.  In fact, I haven't done any machine drawing these past few years with anything but SketchUp.  Nothing wrong with SketchUp per se; it'd be cool to lay out my front garden in 3D.   But that'd mean measuring and reckoning elevations and slopes, which I simply have no time to do.  Nevertheless, three or four weeks ago I got out there with the tape and documented some of the existing conditions in the front border  I even pulled out my AutoCAD course textbook to refresh my skills.

But a couple Saturdays ago, as I mentioned in the previous post, I came across a good deal on eggplant and broccoli plants at an area grocer.  Why not put them in the front yard, where it's sunny and the dog won't get them?  The day after, Sunday the 19th, something switched on in my pea brain and I thought, why bother with a drawing?  Why not just get out there and do it?  Or maybe I didn't think.  I just gathered up my steel tape measure, a couple of garden spikes, and a roll of string and started scribing arcs in the dead-and-alive grass of my pathetic front lawn.
Came off the existing border towards the west end

As I went I took the hoe and made the arcs good and obvious.

Note tape measure and string

Petered out before I hit the sidewalk.  Hit a tough clump of grass and left it till later.

Just for fun, pulled out the first few bricks and  set them on the ground to mark the new line.

The following Saturday the 25th I took the hoe and started hacking out divots along the scribed line.  Only got so far before the dryness of the soil, the stubbornness of some of the grass, and a weird hitch in my right hip got the better of my persistence.  I quit digging till it would rain again.

Carts and carts full of divots.  It only gets worse.

Cut the grass in the new bed short.  Maybe it'll die and be easier to remove.
Still, I didn't see any harm in beginning the edging.  A line of bricks has defined the front border for years before I got here.  They look perfectly fine, so why not reuse them?  And why not just sink them flush in the earth the way the previous owners did?  True, they do tend to let the grass stolons into the flower beds, but it's not like they heave or anything.  Why make a big deal of it?

So I pried more bricks out of the old border and laid them along to make the new one, until it got too dark to continue.

The next day, Sunday the 26th, I laid in more bricks for the new border, till all the ones in the former border were used.

Last one!

Almost there.

And then I borrowed my neighbor's edger.  Why?  Because until I had a clean line between the lawn and the sidewalk I couldn't possibly know how to bring the curve of my new planting bed down to the pavement.

Once that big hank of overgrown grass was hacked off, I could finish the brick border, just as dusk fell.  Had to supplement them with some I collected for the borders in the back.  Not quite the same, but close enough.

In for a landing.

By the 29th it had rained, and I didn't get called in to sub.  But I only finished the edging in the back yard.

Before, with two or three years of overgrowth


Nothing got accomplished in the front until today-- And the ground has dried out again.

Never mind.  It took over three hours, but the front sidewalk is edged and swept.  Ditto the grass along the curb.

The edger gives me a line for my dad's old grass knife to follow.  LOL

Hacking through the jungle.

Took it to my neighbor's roof drain outfall, a little past the property line.

Sidewalk done, both sides

The curb line gets it now.

Can I leave that dirt in the gutter for the street sweeper to pick up?

No, clean it up.  They don't come by half the time anyway.
Tomorrow, if I can get to it, God willing, the real work begins.

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