I’ll tell you right up front, this is hard to admit. My family and I have now been in our new (to us) house for just over a year. The landscape (and I use that term loosely) was less than “curb appealing” to the eyes of an expert gardener such as me or to any passerby for that matter.
Anxious to utilize my skills, I quickly went to work, ripping out inappropriate shrubs, concrete statuettes and scalloped edging, eradicated the weed infested lawn and scooped up the many loads of granite mulch. The end result was a perfectly blank slate ready for the master’s touch.
One year later, I still have a perfectly blank slate. Well actually the weeds moved back in so the lawn area appeared to be green thanks to a carpet of crabgrass. But since recently removing that, I’m back to square one, ready for that radical front yard makeover that is now more than one year overdue.
My overall plan called for a modest kidney shaped island of turf surrounded by mounded raised beds, filled with perennials, mixed shrubs, conifers and three strategically sited Japanese maples. A curved fieldstone path welcomes guests as they make their way to the front stoop, flanked by large containers of seasonally striking plants and cascading vines.
Finally, an understated picket fence envelops the front yard, softened by a wide swath of perennials which fill the void between it and the street. To complete the picture, two barn red Adirondack chairs, angled slightly towards each other, sit open to the street, perfectly placed under the shade of the large oak. It is truly a stunning site. Unfortunately that image exists only in my head, where it has lived for the last 13 months.
Now it is time to finally make that vision a reality. With a relatively light travel schedule over the next two weeks, I’m on a mission to complete (alright…start) this long overdue renovation project. The work has commenced.
First step, prepare the center island for the lawn seeding. First problem, there seems to be a large root mass buried just under the surface, right in the middle of the new lawn area. First dilemma; do I take the easy route and cover it with soil, or do I attempt to dig out this mass of unknown size and solve the problem for good?
Having never been one to run from a challenge, I choose the latter. After two painstaking days, using every tool in my arsenal, I reluctantly surrender my first battle, completely exhausted. My joints ache, I’m so tired I can’t even speak legibly and my hands are covered in blisters in spite of wearing protective gloves.
On Monday morning I call my friend Kelly at Southern Horticulture and plead my case. Five hours later Mike arrives with heavy equipment and promptly extricates this beast from its subterranean home.
I feel better about my decision. Although the benign looking stump seemed as though it could eventually be removed by this stubborn and determined army of one, after seeing what ultimately came out of the ground, it is clear I made the right decision, albeit about two days too late.
Tomorrow I fill the void left by this massive root system, regrade the area and spread the grass seed. Other than consistent irrigation to keep the seeds moist, I’ll be through with phase I. That is assuming of course I don’t have any surprises tomorrow. But with gardening and landscaping, there are always surprises and challenges.
I can’t honestly say I enjoyed this first challenge, but it will add to the memories and enhance the satisfaction and pride I’ll have when this landscape is finally complete. But as gardeners and weekend warriors, you know as well as I, it’s never truly finished. And that’s what keeps us young, excites us about tomorrow and frankly makes us so tired…but isn’t it a good tired? I think so.