Help! Graduation party in just 3 weeks (pics)

dala162(5)May 9, 2009

Hi, My son's graduation party is scheduled to be on our patio in just 3 weeks. He and my father just laid in a 21' x 14' patio with red/black 16" sq. pavers.

I have an area approx. 8' by 14' adjacent to the patio that was dug (by my son) but I didn't think I could afford the cost. I would like to do some sort of planting, mulch, etc. We could mound it up a bit? It gets alot of sun but some shade from an adjacent tree.

The other problem that I have no idea what to do with is a very old, large tree that will likely need to come out in the next few years. There has been some sort of ground cover underneath. I tried cleaning it up and ended up removing over half of it.

If anyone has any ideas I would greatly appreciate. The patio is beautiful but what do I do around it?

Thanks in advance for your help!!!

Here is a link that might be useful: patio

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Shape the existing mounds of dirt into a pleasing shape, then get a delivery of several yards of mulch (3? 4? 5?) (Mulch should run you about $35.00 dollars a yard, plus perhaps $25.00 delivery charge, not too bad) THEN, yes, I am going to say it, go to a big box home store and get some shrubs IN POTS that look nice. GO FOR A GOOD SIZE, AND PRETTY AT THIS MOMENT. Place the shrubs out in a pleasing pattern. AND THEN, SIMPLY DIG A HOLE IN THE MULCH/SOIL MOUND AND INSERT THE ENTIRE POT, YES, KEEP THE PLANT IN THE POT. DO NOT ACTUALLY "PLANT" THE PLANTS. Mound the mulch around it so they appear to be planted in the ground.

This is very much temporary but it allows you to choose beautiful plants that are flowering and look pretty right now. They may not be the right plant for the space ultimately, or ever, but for the moment you will have a lovely vista for the party.

For the next few weeks, until the graduation party, KEEP EVERYTHING VERY WELL WATERED! After the party you can then properly research your plants as to their soil and light needs, and growth patterns. You can properly prepare the soil and all that time consuming, but necessary stuff. Pull up your plants (still in their pots) and decide how to proceed with real knowledge and thought.

But for now, go easy and pretty and give your son a beautiful backdrop for the patio he built for his special day.

As to the area with the tree. Do not tackle that job right now. Clean up the area and then think how to proceed after the party.

Good luck and congratulations to your son.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2009 at 12:53PM
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Well, I would say something quite similar--your best bet is container-type plants and just get the dirt zone so it will look neat and not be muddy. You might think about achieving some sense of "enclosure" to your patio by having several large container plants at the periphery--depending on the crowd you are having and the furnishings you expect on your patio, you'll have to decide whether to have these on the actual edge of the patio or in the dirt/mulch just beyond.

So one way to think about your choices, is whether you want to have the dirt area a true extension of the patio now, or separate it from the patio with container plants, and just make it a neat, clean mulch bed for now, or a combination--create enclosure on one side of patio, and have one side open to a grouping of things in the mulch area.

Agree on some combination of some tall things--in my zone we might find hibiscus and other cheery tall blooming things at reasonable prices at box stores. Even "houseplant" trees like Ficus are available, 5'talll for $15 or so, sometimes depending on featured sales. If you have use for some lower, colorful things, then if you found your own containers (12-16") at reasonable price, you could put a reasonable-sized Wave petunia (or group of smaller transplants) in that and in 3 weeks would be bigger and blooming.

Here is another thing to think about in terms of keeping costs down and yet "decorating"--if the "containers" that things are already in don't look so hot or are all different colors, & some have integral labels and writing, and if some of these are not going to be actually buried (as if you want some on the patio proper) you could find some fabric cheap, like burlap, and tie that up around the pots--so you get a cohesive look for less $$ than trying to upgrade the containers. This also allows you to use large black nursery pots--if you have or if friends have.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2009 at 1:22PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Here's another quick look-good idea: sod. Just rake everything level and roll it out. It might even be better for a party for it to be able to spill over the patio into the yard as a whole.

You could also put sod under that tree. It wouldn't last long, but it would look good for the event, and maybe even until you cut it down. I'd say do it sooner rather than later, but obviously not for the party. In fact, that's another reason to make your solution around the patio temporary - dropping chunks of that tree and its branches are going to make an unholy mess of whatever is underneath. As for that ivy, that's an evil plant and it shouldn't be growing anywhere in North America, as it's highly invasive and destructive.

My only problem with sod, by the way, is the stupid netting they put in it sometimes. If you can buy sod without that, I would.


    Bookmark   May 10, 2009 at 3:22PM
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Pretty much my thoughts.

If all the dirt is the pile up from excavating the patio and the garden space adjacent to the patio, clean it up, rake it off the grass, remove the piles, smooth it out - don't think I'd make bumps and berms in unlikely places. Then lay out and edge a pattern for the future garden beds and mulch them over. It would be a clean look waiting for future planting. Your guests are not likely to be so anal retentive in not appreciating a "work in progress" when it comes to hardscaping and landscaping.

Lowes, Home Depot, Menard's (if you have them in your area) are well stocked up with shrubs - red twig dogwood, sand cherries, ninebarks, weigela, lilacs, spireas, forsythia, snowball viburnums; conifers; already blooming annuals - pansies, petunias, geraniums, alyssum, impatiens, begonias; perennials like hosta, Knock-out roses (I'm not as sold on those as the rest of the world seems to be), iris, dianthus, ornamental grasses. All/any of these could be temporarily buried, as suggested, right in their pots for permanent placement later.

Voila! You'd have the space spiffed up for entertaining and a good start on materials for when all your gardening plans start coming together.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2009 at 3:48PM
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I would plan on having a tent in case of rain, and to provide relief from the sun; I would put over the patio and rake and mulch the adjacent area and arrange potted plants that can be planted shortly after the party.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2009 at 2:27PM
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Is the party in the day or evening?
If it will carry into the evening lighting can go a long way! What about one of those gazebo type tents with cool string lights hung arounf the edges? Or just an umbrella to anchor your seating with lights. Or what about lots of candeles? I've seen really pretty pictures of garden parties using mason jars with candles inside hung from tree branches.
I would agree to add a bed along the patio and mulch heavily. Add shrubs with pretty foliage. Group them. I love lime green folliage to really show up.
patio furniture with some pretty pillows, or a table set with vases of flowers...
Good luck! I am also having a graduation party and I have been going crazy trying to get ready!
Post picures of your big day. :)
Serve good drinks.. the patio will look better to everyone. :)

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 8:05PM
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hurlee asks a great question--day or night will make a big difference on whether you are focusing a lot on sun protection and comfort and plants that will be highly visible, versus mood lighting and more soft-focus visibility of the yard (and mosquitoes!).

    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 12:03PM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

One more item -- be sure the plants you put in the sunny area are sun-ready, not direct from a greenhouse or shadehouse. It would be so sad to get a bunch of nice plants, then watch them suffer sunburn and turn crispy before your party. Hope the planning is going well, have fun.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 12:36PM
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Thanks all; I had a family emergency and had to travel to St. Louis for the week. Lost a valuable week, but all is well with the family.

I so appreciate all the ideas. We are ready to edge and mulch and I will likely be buying plants this coming weekend.

Thanks again!!!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2009 at 10:54PM
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