Landscaping with wood chips (just for laughs)

melle_sacto(Z9/Sunset 14 CA)May 1, 2013

Thought I would share some progress in the part of our front yard along the front walk. I'm excited enough not to feel too embarrassed at the lack of perfection and can laugh at some of my really bad choices that have led us to this, even after living here 11 years!

What I had always hoped would be a beautiful walk of perennials/small shrubs in a "natural" presentation just looked...terrible. Terrible and weedy, and out of control, and shameful. My husband prefers manicured, minimalist, and static. But instead it was this (a year ago at the beginning of last spring):

So we decided to get rid of it, tilling and laying plastic for almost a year, then tilling again, then plastic for another couple months:

Trust me, the plastic was an IMPROVEMENT LOL! :-) If nothing else, it looked like we were working on the yard.

And now, for starters it's LEVEL!

I think it will have a simpler look with the expanse of green from the groundcover. The citrus are mainly because we really wanted to grow more but out of sunny places in the backyard (unless we tear out our little lawn, but with two boys ages 8 and 4 a little lawn is very useful)

Along the walk is a Yosemite Gold dwarf mandarin tree (and a dwarf Bearss lime on the far right of the pic, hard to see). We left the little "vignette" of artemesia (I don't remember the variety but it does well and has wider leaves than normal), yarrow, and some iris. And then lots of little starts of white myoporum groundcover from a flat. And I'll let you in on a secret: there is still some plastic there, just under the wood chips in areas we did not plant. For weed control (for a while).

Closer to the house, shaded in the photos, in a very short raised bed, strawberries!!! And behind the strawberries, like a "foundation planting", a sad row of gardenias. Covering the dirt: wood chips. But it looks like we landscaped with wood chips and have some "accent plants"!

We were planning to put a path along the front of the strawberry bed, but for now it's wood chips. I have a few homeless dwarf daylilies, and I might just clear a few spaces and plant them "temporarily" until the path is installed (the path might not be installed for another year or more, since we really want to tackle the awful driveway pavers next).

For 10 years I had a 'Veitchii' gardenia right next to the front door, and it has always done well. It's shown in the photo on the left side, and under it is a nice patch of baby tears groundcover. The baby tears generally dry up in the summer sun.

In an attempt to simplify, my husband and I agreed to have a row of 'Veitchii' gardenias all along the front, so I took out the other plants (hydrangea, dwarf agapanthus...I forget what else) and we planted gardenias to be like an informal, evergreen, low hedge.

Looking at the photo, I can see I still have a few things out there to clean up ;-) And there is still a clump or two of italian arum that's got to go.

Of course, now the 10 years old gardenia is VERY unhappy, drying up and dropping leaves. I don't know what's wrong with it, maybe just too much action/change around it, maybe too much water. And the new gardenias are not doing so well either. So...maybe I'll have to find something else that will be evergreen, enjoy shade for most of the day and then hot afternoon sun, and only grow 3-4' tall/wide. I do want to grow something in there, our sewer clean out is right there, on center with the front window. Ew.

Our front yard has always been a challenge because we face north-west and all the areas by the house are shade most of the day with afternoon sun. But this was a happy surprise! I have a potted schefflera that, unfortunately, took a cold hit this winter. It's slowly coming back, and one of the nasturtium seeds I planted in the pot LAST year, in hopes of some fun bright color, sprouted THIS spring! I adore nasturtiums but do not have much luck growing them in my yard.

Just wanted to show that we are making some progress and I truly appreciate all the helpful comments the folks here have offered over the years, even if my implementation was less than stellar.

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julianna_il(z6 IL)

Massive improvement! You've really worked hard on this.

The way I see it: all of the many gardening "mistakes" we make are simply learning experiences.

Except for the running bamboo I planted. It's the mistake that won't go away.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 12:16AM
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trovesoftrilliums(5)

I love how you are including edibles. :). We moved to the Midwest from ca four years ago and I really miss picking oranges and lemons from the yard.

The wood chips do give a nice tidy look. I hope your gardenia rebounds .

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 11:16AM
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melle_sacto(Z9/Sunset 14 CA)

Thanks -- I can't wait for everything to fill in, I think it will look a lot better with groundcover over the area. I think the gardenia will pull through, it seems like a main branch died but not the whole shrub. Not sure what's going on, but i'm okay to just patiently wait and see.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 7:19PM
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