Posts Tagged ‘landscaping design’

Trellis-Style Gate Repair

Trellis-Style Gate Repair

A good friend and neighbour of ours enjoys spending a few days with his son at Keats View during school holidays and they always leave things better than they found them. Over Spring Break they noticed that one of the gates was off kilter and sagging badly. As a result the gate didn’t swing smoothly and it had to be hoisted up in order to secure the bolt. The gate hangs on a post attached to the boundary fence and the sagginess was actually in the fence.

So here is the nice solution they came up with. The fence is now straight and stabilized; the gate hangs straight and swings smoothly and a short extender allows the bolt to work properly.

In addition, I have a new trellis-like structure to support some kind of climbing plant – get me to a nursery!

I plan to stain the gate’s frame and the post and top bar of the trellis brown to match the railings. Add that climbing plant and some spring sunshine and it will look terrific. Thanks guys!

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The more I learn, the more I am afraid.  On forums, I read of people who fought goutweed for years and then gave up and moved! One fellow covered his infested beds with four layers of flattened cardboard boxes, followed by several inches of mill waste and then a heavy black tarp – for a year! 

I peeked into the neighbour’s yard where the weed is originating and it is a sea of goutweed!  It is growing in their lawn! According to the forums, this is a very bad thing:  It is essentially impossible to dig this highly rhizomatic invader out of turf.  It seems likely they don’t know this.  Would it be rude to point out that their overrun garden is infringing on the health and viability of mine? This is a whole new field of etiquette to ponder.

Meanwhile, I am on the warpath.  I broke down and broke out the Roundup. I  am now getting analytical: Where can I reasonably expect to control this invasive groundcover through digging? Where will I –  realistically – have to use herbicide to have any chance at all?  Which areas might lend themselves to the one-two punch of poisoning and smothering?  

To help answer this last question, I sprayed herbicide foam over a bad patch near the fence, then covered it with a plastic garbage bag, followed by a layer of old shingles and then some board remnants. I sprayed a similar sized adjoining area with Roundup and left it uncovered (not enough shingles and wood handy) so that I can compare the relative efficacy of these techniques.  Don’t know how I can keep on top of this once our rental season gears up next month… I am frankly considering a torch!

poisoning and smothering

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I know, I know. It’s not very becoming. But I just have to show you my before and after photos.  We’ve been away for a while (more about that later), and I’ve likely tested the interest of any regular readers with my unapologetic silence – so who is there to offend, really? 

Patience and hard work paid off here. Also, the assistance of followers of this blog and GardenWeb folk  – who continue to make great suggestions to this day. Oh . . . and really good weather may have had a hand. Also, the neighbour who watered while we were away.

So really, it was a group effort. Regardless, it is very gratifying to see what can be achieved in the span of six months.  It is especially appreciated this summer when a successful rental season at Keats View has kept us away from the cottage for six weeks and counting: Having a little bit of dirt to mess around in just steps from my kitchen has prevented me from feeling too unhappy about my exile from the cottage garden.  

Without further ado, here is my backyard in March of 2010:

Just getting started in the backyard: March 2010

And here is how it looks today, as I sit typing out a blog post and sipping a blender drink:

My new happy place: August 2010

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I’ve been delaying my update hoping to finish this project but I’ve stalled again. I have included an updated diagram, since most of the plantings are so small as to have little impact at this point – thus the two flats worth of annuals I’ve plugged in to give us – if the sun ever comes out – something to look at.  Details on current dilemma follow pictures…

I moved the path when I realized that it was taking up valuable real estate in the sunniest part of the yard.

To date I’ve invested in some topsoil (though it never seems to be enough) as well as a mock orange, Japanese anenome, two shasta daisies (a fond memory) bee balm and three lavender for the hot spot around the rocks and up against the retaining wall.  

At the cottage I have an abundance of wild geranium, iris, primrose and hosta that I can move over at an appropriate moment.  I also plan to get an old-fashioned (tall) bleeding heart, as was suggested by a GardenWeb contributor. Meanwhile, I am repeating my mantra:  I must be patient.

The bricks in the path are leftover from the patio, and all were donated by generous friends redoing their own patio area.  I decided to use these for now, knowing that I will likely replace them with something a bit less structured ‘in the fullness of time.’

I had planned to fill in around the pavers with bark mulch. But now I am rethinking. I rather like the contrast provided by the grey path, and in light of comments received noting that bark mulch tends to shift around quite a bit, I am considering small rock.  It might look a bit like a dry stream bed, particularly if a few large flat stones replaced the brick stepping stones.  I can’t decide if this would look good, or just a bit twee.  Discuss?

If I was going to use rock, it wouldn’t be much more trouble to shovel it up from the beach, since I don’t need a large amount. I’ll be at the cottage with the kids this weekend and will explore the viability of this idea then. In any event, Cottager is away, riding the Camino de Santiago, and I am loath to move rock without his muscles. I must be patient.

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As you can see from the above “Before” photo, our suburban backyard has been dreadfully neglected over the past few years as we devoted most of our energies to the cottage. Now we are in landscaping mode, and in keeping with our usual M.O., we jumped in to the first stages without thinking through to the last.  We were at that point where anything would be an improvement. So we terraced and bricked, and it has shaped up pretty nicely. 

But God, as they say, is in the details, and having arrived at that point, the details are eluding me.  So here is the question:  How can the central, timber-framed area beyond the brick patio, which measures roughly 15 ‘ wide and 11’ deep, best be landscaped according to the following priorities:  Attractiveness, openness and ease of care?  Here are some current photos and a diagram of the area for your consideration:

looking out from the French doors

a rough diagram of the area under consideration

A few other thoughts:

  • This area gets only about 4 hours direct sun.
  • The large split rock nearest to the patio can’t be moved (and I wouldn’t if I could.)
  • A pathway starting from the brick patio and leading to the back fence at the gap shown on the diagram is essential
  • I’m leaning towards incorporating areas of bark mulch or another medium, and having grouped rocks and plantings arranged in ‘islands’ that are fairly low and easy care, but give a bit of colour through the summer and fall – but feel free to suggest otherwise 
  • Cost is very much an issue, so those lovely big slate slabs that cost $50 / piece are not an option, however I do have a source of smaller rocks in the nearby stream and could use the workout that would be involved in hauling some up. 

So, what do you think?  I’d love your opinion. Weigh in on layout, materials and plants.  Once done, I’ll post the final photos with thanks to all and credit for the ideas I’ve used.

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