Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Hardscape Garden Projects Preview

Last week the garden was in a bit of a disarray with three hardscape projects under construction. For the past few years, we've hired out one major garden project each year, getting us closer to creating our dream garden. This spring we decided to get three items checked off our list.

Project 1: Front Hill Stairs
As part of our front yard makeover we wanted to add stairs down the steep hill, to the left of the front entrance. This hill was always a problem area, not only difficult to walk down (I slipped more times than I can count) but also a pain to mow. When you have to wear cleats to keep from sliding down the hill it's time for a remodel.

We've been talking about putting stairs in for a while, not only for ease of use, but also to make the overall flow of the garden more harmonious. The stairs now tie the front of the house to the side garden making it much more usable. Of course, I was also thrilled to take out more turf in the process.

We expanded the flower bed to the other side of the stairs and added border rock to define the space. Now the fun part, dressing up the place with plants! Suggestions welcome, but they must be pollinator friendly and preferably native. I'm especially looking for suggestions for ground covers. Our house is south facing and this space gets lots of sun.

Project 2: Woodland Seating Wall
Looking down into the woodland area from the side of the house was a big blank space where we added a seating wall and 380 sq. feet of space for chairs/benches so that we could enjoy watching the activity on Pollinator Hill, which runs the full length of the house and out toward the street. Unfortunately, I couldn't readily get my hands on a before photo of this space.

woodland seating area

Project 3: Walk Through Path to Back Drive
Last year we added stairs to transition from the lower garden outside the back deck to the upper garden. This area has a gradual grade and we found that we really weren't using the stairs as much as we expected since walking along the grass at an angle wasn't comfortable. We decided to take out a section of grass (yay!) and incorporate a level walk. This is my midway photo, as I am really bad at remembering to take before shots.

Removal of grass and area leveled

This required adding a low rock wall to hold in the soil after they cut out and leveled the space. It is amazing how this cut through path has transformed this area. I find myself walking it every day. It ties the lower garden to the back driveway nicely.

As you can see, we live on a corner lot and from this vantage point have a view of our neighbor across the cul-de-sac as well as across the street. We will be expanding the flowerbed to the left to extend down to the retaining wall, which means adding more pollinator plants! An additional benefit to all the stone we've added is that the irregularities of the natural rock makes for a great place to catch rain water for insects to drink and butterflies to puddle and bask.

Now that the projects are finished it's time to go plant shopping. Fortunately, spring plant sales are coming up and our local nurseries are on their expanded spring hours.