Monday, November 10, 2014

Front Yard Rock Garden

Today my neighbor said, "I read your article in the Sacramento Bee."  "It was great.".  It's nice to know that people are reading what you are writing.  Since I had been working on my front yard project for most of the summer I decided the November article needed to be about it.

I have been bugging my husband for years to give up some grass in the front yard.  He dug in his heels up until Mother’s Day of this year.  When I opened my card grass fell out.  I didn’t quite understand until I saw a Facebook photo of the front side yard posted by my husband.  It said Happy Mother’s Day to Candy.  Of course I jumped up and down in happiness!

First thing we did was stop watering the lawn and let it die. There are many other ways to do this but this is what we chose.


Now this is some dry, dry grass.  When you stepped on it your foot made a crunching sound.


We had a fellow come in and tear out the dead yard and take it all away.  This is what we were left with.  It was a tough job and took him quite a few hours.  But it was money well spent.

Then I went to a couple of home improvement stores looking for ways to build the berms I wanted.  I really wanted a couple of raised areas in my front yard project.  I was going to use these key stone and I probably would have been happy with them.  But I went to the Succulent Extravaganza and my eyes were opened.  I wanted to build rock walls using moss rocks and incorporate pots as in Julia Bells design.  Thank you so much for the idea!


After Stan roto tilled the area I had a couple of yards of dirt brought in.  I chose baseball dirt mixed with organic mulch.  The baseball mix has a lot of red lava fines in it so it will be very good for drainage.


We went over and over on how I was going to do the drip system.  We decided on a loop system.  We got a drip converter and connected a T to it.  We will connect a large roll of drip line and snake it all around the planting.  The other end will go on the other side of the T.  Once I get the smaller lines in, it should work just fine.

Oh and I still chose clay (I don't know what to call them), to keep the neighbors grass away.


Thank goodness I have such a strong man for a husband.  This was a lot of work.  He spread a bunch of the soil everywhere then had to make my two berms.


Scout just had to be part of the action.


Now that the mounds were made it was time to lay the large drip line.  We looped it around the base of the larger berm then headed towards the second.


This is the second mound or berm.  I want plants to eventually run into the bed against the fence that is already established.


Little by little I drove to the rock yard and brought home moss rock.  I built the small rock wall first.  It really was like putting together a Jigsaw  puzzle.  I would take a rock and put it this way and that until it fit or I would grab another.  Really fun!


The larger rock wall was actually a bit easier.


As you can see I incorporated two pots in the larger wall and one is the smaller one in the back.  I got these filled with succulents at a home improvement store.  I also decided to add a tree.  I picked a Palo Verde 'Desert Museum'.  It will be absolutely great.  I had to plant it close to the divide between our two yards because of underground gas and power lines.  I called a PG&E phone number to ask them where I could and couldn't dig.  They in turn called cable, electric and telephone.  Within 3 days I had different colored lines and flags everywhere.  Thank goodness to because I was going to plant the tree right where the lines were.  It would have been awful and very costly.

You are probably wondering how I am going to keep the dirt from seeping out the tiny cracks and holes in the walls.  Ah ha!  I took landscaping cloth and laid it in an L shape on the back side of the walls.  Then I pushed the dirt up against it and trimmed off the excess.  I think this will do just fine.


Next I placed all the plants and moved them around until I was pleased with the arrangement.


So we decided to lay landscaping cloth to keep the weeds out.  It's not covering the berms though because I'm mostly afraid of any remaining grass coming back alive in the areas with less new dirt.

Now the fun begins.  Planting the plants.  I have been saving a bunch that I got from Waterwise Botanicals at the Succulent Celebration.  Plus I relocated others in different areas of my garden where they had overgrown.  I found the golden barrels at a home improvement store for a crazy awesome price.


Now this is where we made our big mistake.  I should had added the small drip lines to each plant.  I didn't do it.  We had this California gold rock delivered and we wanted to get it off the driveway and on the ground.  So now I will be moving rock and laying lines after the fact.  Grrrr!


Here is a shot looking at one of the pots in the larger berm.  On top of each berm and around each plant we put the smaller rock.  Everywhere we laid the larger.


Lower area!


This Agave Blue Glow is in the center of the larger berm.  And it should be the star of the show.


Here it is before we got the tree in the ground and the large pouring pot on the right filled.  I sure hope all the plants live.


A shot of the tree planted.  Gerhard Bock from Succulents and More had told me to untie it from the stake to make the tree stronger.  But it is not ready yet.  So after this photo I tied it back up.  The Agave vilmoriniana 'Octopus Agave' that he gave me is on the bottom right of photo.  Also to the left is Agave Joe Hoak and to the left of the rock in the center is a small Agave Blue Wave.  I gave it lot's of room to grow.

Thank you so much Gerhard for the contributions to this project.  Hope you all like it!

Until later:

It's Another Beautiful Day!


Jess said...

Absolutely unreal Candy!!! I wish I had the space to do something like this myself... Will just have to keep the ideas in mind for a possible future garden :)

Pam/Digging said...

Congrats on your new lawn-gone garden, Candy! Your new succulent and cactus garden looks great. I love the moss rocks too.

gwenniesgarden said...

oh wow !!! much better than gras !!!!