Sunday, July 17, 2011

Completing the Landscape Picture

On May 25 I was happy with the way the landscaping was shaping up in the back yard.  We had a heavy rain, and I saw how the water wanted to flow across the garden.  I thought we could live with this.  I would just raise the bed a little to catch the water, and I'd plant Japanese and Siberian Irises there to enjoy the wet soil.

But then we had some grading done to ease the slope, and some soil was smoothed onto the slope to reduce the angle of descent.  The plan was to stabilize it with straw and then seed it.  However, some big rains changed our plans.  This is what the same area looked like on June 18.

Intense rains brought sheets of water down the right side of our property, washing the loose soil across the near flower bed and leaving a 2-inch thick layer on the grass and the circular bed beyond.
I sent this drainage plan for a swale to our contractor that day.

Even heavier rains came the next weekend, making any work with a tractor out of the question.  And so I began to dig the swale by hand.  Yesterday I completed the task of laying sod into the swale and began to fill in the picture on the sides.  This morning I prepared the area next to the swale in the two flower beds and laid sod to create a good mowing and walking path on either side.  Here's a photo I took before dinner tonight.

I've drawn the outline on the area I covered today and yesterday.  I'll lay sod on the bare rectangle on the far side of the swale and the small bare spot on the near side tomorrow morning.  There's more to do on the upper part of the swale, but there's an inconvenient growth of real grass and weed grass in that zone, so I'm going to spray that with Roundup and let the heat wave eliminate what would otherwise require an hour or so of brute force with a straight-edged shovel.

Here's the view of the upper part from the deck.

The swale extends another twenty feet up the side of the house, and there's another twelve feet of ground needing sod beyond the beginning of the depression.  That's part of the Roundup zone.  For the next few days, while the Roundup does its work, I'll try tilling the broken dirt of the seedling beds beyond the swale.  The heat should be drying it out so that I can use a tiller.  If things are favorable, I'll till in leaf compost and rake it smooth to eliminate the rough look.

It has been hard to feel any passion for daylily hybridizing when so few plants have set seed pods even on favorable days.  I think their energy is diverted to surviving a late move to this property.  I doubt that I'll have more than a few dozen pods for almost two thousand attempts.  But that is the way it goes with living plants.  Sometimes you have to be grateful that they survive the torments of heat and lousy soil to build themselves up for beauty next year.

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