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Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

Posted by pam29011 (My Page) on
Fri, Jul 1, 11 at 14:00

I think of these as Before and After shots, but I know we aren't even close to being a real "after".

Here is what our backyard looked like in October of 2010. We'd lived here just 9 months, and had gotten a lot of the brush down and some of the small trees. But at the pace we were working it would have taken years to really clear the place out. Dimensions are 125' wide & 175' long.

Backyard Beginning

The dog is about 32 pounds (a little taller than a beagle) if that helps with scale.

Now the yard looks like this:
Backyard One

We kept 6 large trees (5 oaks, 1 maple). I count that 3-in-1 tree as just one oak. Another view below, the single oak there is over 3' diameter at chest height and the base flares out. It feels very Jurassic Park to me, I love that tree.

Backyard Three

These 3 rocks looked really small on the surface. I'm going to add plants in here so we don't have to mow between these 2 trees. The garden hose is marking the outline of the future bed (I watered that area so I could imagine how it would look with mulch).

A close-up shot of the loam & a distant image of the biggest rock they pulled out. It's about the size of a washer & there are 8' between it and the back fence, so I can put in some mountain laurel and dogwoods back there. I'm thinking Winterberry holly in that area as well b/c it's fairly moist. About 25' away from the back fence corner is a seasonal pond that arrives in the spring & dries up mid-summer, so that area stays moist but doesn't have standing water (still, no drought loving plants need apply for that corner).

Backyard Two

Many thanks for the advice here, I am sure I will be back for more :)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

Please rethink the bed under those two trees.


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RE: Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

Hi Inkognito,

There are many ways to interpret your comment - can you expand a little bit? Those 8 words only convey that you dislike the idea, but don't convey what you dislike or what you consider a better option. Are you saying:

  • Don't have a bed between those trees at all?
  • Change the shape of the bed between the trees?

    I'm definitely doing something OTHER than grass between and right around those trees. I don't think grass will do well in such heavy shade & I don't want to use a weed whacker to edge there. In my mind the best option is a few plants that survive in dry shade & a good amount of mulch.

    I'm very open to suggestions, but I come here for discussion and ideas. Not vague criticism without any substance or helpful information.


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    RE: Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

    Yet my "vague criticism without any substance or helpful information" caused you to expand upon your OP.

    I have posted here for many years and received criticism such as yours mainly because I am never likely to be considered a paint by numbers instructor. If I can help you to realize your dream without too much hot sweat then that works for me.

    If I were to say that there is a disconnect in scale between the bed you have marked out and the trees and the yard would that mean anything? In my ever so humble opinion you have an opportunity to create a bold landscape but what you show is a like a pixx hole in the snow. Better?


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    RE: Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

    Actually YES, that is much better. You added substance AND helpful information. And incidentally, I think you are right, that bed does look too small.

    Here's my perspective on this little exchange:

  • I asked for advice about hiring one landscaper & was told to get another estimate & look for someone who hires men, not children.
  • That was good advice, I followed it. As a result, I really like the grading work that was done.
  • I thought it would be appropriate to show gratitude and share images to show folks that their advice was really valuable & spot on. And that their typing is not for nothing - people listen.
  • You criticized it in a way that is so vague as to be useless and impossible to learn from

    I'm not asking you to be "paint-by-numbers", but adding 3 little words such as "It's too small" or even just 2 words, "wrong scale" converts your post from, "I don't like it" into "change this to improve it."

    Surely you can see the difference? And those extra 2-3 words - is that so much to ask in the name of fostering constructive discussion forums?

    Thank you for the follow-on comments, those are very helpful and I will take your advice to think bigger & bolder. You are right- these trees are not saplings, they deserve a bed on a grander scale.


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    RE: Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

    Not to put words in Ink's mouth for him, but I do believe that there can be merit in vague or ambiguous comments in this forum.

    A design problem is affected by so many potential factors and there are so many potential approaches to developing a design solution, not to mention the multiplicity of actual design solutions themselves.

    I understand that people often come to this forum with a fairly defined issue and expecting a fairly defined answer. By all means it is possible for contributors to respond directly to the question posed with a singular answer, and we've seen over the years many a member provide very insightful, knowledgeable assistance and information to people's questions. This forum is very rich in that regard.

    Summing that up, an answer to the original issue or question is gradually narrowed down to a fairly specific set of choices, actions, or options.

    However, discussion can also go in the opposite direction - instead of answering the original question of the poster, a comment has the potential to open a whole new realm of additional questions. These new questions, and the issues that they pose, can re-frame the whole context of the original question. This often results in a shift of focus away from the original issue to tackle other issues that the the poster was not thinking of.

    Summing that up, a response to a question can also greatly broaden the original issue - and this is where ambiguity can come in handy.

    For example, Ink simply stated, "Please rethink the bed under those two trees." He has since mentioned that "there is a disconnect in scale between the bed and the rest of the yard," which immediately focuses attention to the bed. Discussion then shifts to what can be done to improve the bed through changing its size.

    However, the first thing that popped into my head when I read Ink's original comment was - "How does this bed affect the structure and layout of the rest of the yard?" and not about its size at all.

    You have put in this bed so you don't have to mow between the trees, but there is also so much more that a planting bed can do for your yard. Other than the mowing issue, which the bed does address, it is appears to be a bed for the sake of a bed, i.e. an "object" placed in the yard. I would like you to think of what else a bed can do for you:

    A planting bed can help redirect flow around or through itself, screen views, divide the yard into separate areas (or imply a division), create a backdrop for an artifact/focal point, provide visual mass to establish a relatable vertical scale, provide shade (not in your particular situation, but can be valid in others), visually compensate for the dominance of the house in the landscape or help extend lines/alignments from the house to help it more strongly relate to the landscaping and vice versa, establish a hospitable microclimate for other plantings, frame specific views from the house or act as a focal point in and of itself, etc. Plus, you know, also look pretty.

    I in no means mean to be snarky or sarcastic - but if you look at the short list (which I am sure others can expand upon), you can realize quickly that there are many other issues and factors that also can be addressed in the rest of the entire yard, not just the bed itself. This opens up more questions of how do you want to use the outdoor space - really focusing on the end goal and use of the space, before you start thinking of "How can you improve it?", and then finally "What things can help you do so?".

    A tendency is for people to think of the "What" (objects) before the "How," (methods) before the final "Why?" (purpose/goals). An ambiguous question can throw everything into the air and provoke people to reverse their original thinking through uncertainty. A specific response to a "What" question can often focus attention away from the "How" and "why."

    I.e. in this case, attention was directed back to the size of the bed, away from its larger role and layout in the rest of the yard and your intended end use of the space.

    Summing all of that up, people often come to the forum with some uncertainty or confusion, expecting it to be immediately reduced. This can and does happen regularly to great effect do to very knowledgeable and helpful members. In some situations, however, by increasing and expanding the original uncertainty and confusion before reducing it, it is possible for a more issues and factors to be considered, resulting in a more thorough, holistic, and well-prioritized solution.

    - Audric

    (Then again, a vague comment from Ink can also cause someone else such as myself to bear the "hot sweat" with a rambling response, so either way it works.)


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    RE: Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

    • Posted by laag z6CapeCod (My Page) on
      Sat, Jul 2, 11 at 7:03

    I think that it is great that Pam came back to thank everyone. Thank you, Pam, for doing that.

    The island under the trees is not complete and the activities and experiences going on in and around that area are unknown to me or anyone else at this point, so I find it difficult to make an opinion of whether it is too big, too small, or too anything else.

    I see steps frm what I assume is a deck and based on that and assuming nothing else, I like that connecting the trees reinforces or builds space around the deck. I like the sense that it gives a close space and then the great beyond.

    The rocks seem very out of context at this point, but that can change by building context through plants or topography. Right now they look like they are to keep the lawn mower from driving through, but again, this has just started as a clearing and grading job. It is almost like criticizing the condition of the lawn at this point.


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    RE: Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

    What an amazing transformation! When do you think we'll be able to see the new lawn?

    Would like to know where you are, what zone you're in, and some compass designations.

    Rosie, Sugar Hill, GA


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    RE: Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

    Thanks Rosie, Laag, and Audric!

    We are in Massachusetts, in zone 6 technically but so close to the border of Zone 5 that I just assume that's what I need for cold-hardiness. I think it will be 3 weeks before we see green in the yard. I bought fertilizer, seed, and sprinklers today. I just tested the impact sprinklers & I think we'll need a couple more, they don't shoot quite as far as advertised (but that could be water pressure related, not their fault). The plan is to rake, fertilize, and seed tomorrow. We'll set up the sprinklers on hoses & use a timer to run them 2x/day. We'll have hose-tracks in the new grass, but we don't plan to irrigate long term so it's too expensive to put in a real, under ground, sprinkler system. In a year the hose tracks will fill in, I hope. I figure we'll overseed in the fall as well. This is the worst time of year to grow grass but I want to start it before the loam gets totally compacted back down by rain.

    As for the compass designations ... the back of our house faces south and the first picture is taken facing due south (the before shot). the others are all some variation of south-southeast or east-southeast.

    I'm still figuring out what I want out of the yard (balancing with my work & travel schedule, gotta be realistic). I knew we needed to get rid of that brush because the ticks were just rampant out there. We have deer that visit the farm behind us (and plenty of squirrels) so ticks have plenty of hosts here. Brewers Yeast + Garlic can only do so much for the pets & I haven't found a repellant that works for people.

    Future plans include a veggie garden & a shed. And some shrubs to soften the edges of the yard. Even with all those trees gone, there aren't many places that have full sun so the veggie garden location is limited to a few options. Now that I can see the space better I need to spend some hours just looking at it to figure out what to do with it. I figure running the sprinklers & watching for grass to grow will give me plenty of time for that. I'm excited, optimistic, and intimidated all at the same time.

    And you guys rock b/c if I'd hired the other guy for over half as much to do the front yard (which is 1/5 the size of this) we would have had to wait another year to do this project.


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    RE: Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

    • Posted by laag z6CapeCod (My Page) on
      Sat, Jul 2, 11 at 18:31

    I have a little job to do up in Framingham with some very similar sized oaks. I've been on this sand bar with dinky trees for long enough that I got that same Jurasic Park feeling standing by them.


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    RE: Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

    "Thanks Rosie, Laag, and Audric!" you could have saved yourself some ink there Pam but I take your point.


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    RE: Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

    Ink - I meant no disrespect. I was replying to the last 3 people who had posted since my most recent reply on Friday night. Honestly, that wasn't meant as a snub toward you.


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    RE: Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

    Landscape design sure is an emotional topic...
    Removing grass when it's already in place is extra work, so I'd try drawing some more lines on the ground first. (use flour if you run out of hose)
    I'd think something other than grass (hardscape) between the stairs and the trees, or, in the extreme version, a gravel path meandering around the entire perimeter of yard, separating shrubbery from lawn (ticks are supposed to dislike walking over gravel).


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    RE: Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

    Good luck on the long term health of those trees. Hope whoever was running the heavy equipment knew what he/she was doing and how much that type of work can damage trees.


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    RE: Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

    Thanks, Mary. That was a concern, and it's part of why we hired this guy. He would only use a rake to spread the soil near the trees (and even then, not much of it). There is still a risk of compacting some of the roots, though, because trees this size must have massive feeder root systems. Within the dripline of the trees the 1-2" of added soil is very fluffy (annoyingly so if you try to walk across it in sandals). I'm hoping that all the watering we're doing to get the lawn started will help the trees weather the disruption & encourage them to send new feeder roots up into the new soil. It's amazing how little he had to change the grade around the trees, once he got the leaves off the ground to see the dips, most of them were in areas that we'd had trees removed.

    Only time will tell, though, we won't know the status of the trees until next year at the earliest.


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    RE: Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

    • Posted by botann z8 SEof Seattle (My Page) on
      Fri, Jul 8, 11 at 9:41

    One of the most common mistakes homeowners make when doing their own landscaping is making the lawn too large and the planting areas too small. That, and putting, or leaving solitary trees, in the middle of the lawn. A lot of that reasoning goes into thinking the lawn is less, and easier, maintenance. That is not necessarily so if you pick the right plants and place them in the right spot. A little research goes a long way in that regard. Listen to people with qualifications and experience. They are not usually going to give you bad advice even though located in a different part of the country. For instance, I'm not going to give you any advice on Oaks or Oak root systems. My experience with them is very limited and all I know is what I've read.

    If you put priority on the lawn shape over the shape of the flower beds you will have a better designed landscape. I think of the shape of the lawn as flowing water and that tiny bed joining the two Oaks is an interruption in the flow. In my opinion, it should be much larger and reflect the 'flow' of the lawn.
    Mike


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    RE: Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

    What they said. Personally, nothing has made me happier than the fact that you introduced the idea of "32 pound beagle-sized awesome happy white dog" as a unit of scale. With as serious and sometimes crankypants as people get around here I just wanted to mention that :)


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    RE: Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

    Yes cute dog! And the grading looks very smooth, although $13K seems expensive for that work, even in Massachusetts, where prices are high.

    A few concerns - you have clearcut a huge space and the middle of summer is not really a good time to start a lawn. Traditionally this is done in Spring or Fall. This is also the time of year when the weeds go most crazy!

    If the remaining trees have been adversely affected by the grading, some dieback may occur over many years. Twenty years ago, the previous owners constructed an addition on the back of my house. There is a large pin oak about 20 feet from the addition. It is clear that extra soil was graded over about 1/2 of this tree's root system. The tree is very much alive and huge, however there has been progressive dieback of the lower branches, particularly on the side where the roots were disturbed. Even now, 20 years later, the branches are still dying. Which also means lots of dead sticks and an occasional branch dropping on the roof and deck over time (it takes Oaks a looooooong time to lose branches).

    You mention a "seasonal pond" behind your property? In Massachusetts, under the wetland law there is a buffer zone of 100 ft which is not supposed to be disturbed without a permit. This includes excavating, grading, and removal of vegetation. The buffer zone provides habitat, protects water quality, etc. Of course, property owners disturb the buffer zone all the time and I doubt the wetland police are going to come knocking on your door. But the plants, logs, leaf litter, etc. that used to exist around the wetland are part of the buffer.


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    RE: Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

    I think you're safe from the environmental police - my husband and former EPA policy analyst says he's 99.9% sure that vernal pools don't fall under wet land regulation.


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    I admire your persistence

    Caveat: I am not a designer. I am a gardener. I have a visions of gardens but little ability to execute a plan that brings into existence my vision. Hence, Over 21 years in my garden I've had three designers come in a different times to help bring a "phase" into existence. Want to know the part I always need help with? The shape and curve of a border. I always tend to the rinky dink little squat too straight border, when what I need is a 200 feet lenght of hose and a confident person who says "step back, I'm quadrupling the depth of this border." Which by the way, means less lawn to mow!

    Can you spend some more money for a skilled landscape designer to save you lots of time and money in the long run? I don't mean this to be insulting, but the scale of the first bed suggests to me that you may not have experience in considering the "big picture" which, as others have said begins with questions like "what do want to do with the space?" "What does a garden mean to you?" "How much time do you have to garden, and how deep is your passion for it?" "How much money do you have to spend on plants and maintenance?" Will you be doing all the work yourself?'

    Over the years professional garden help at crucial points has taught me, encouraged me, and given me confidence to proceed. And, by the way, a pretty nice garden with 2/3 less lawn than 21 years ago!

    I wish you well. I think you've been a great good sport about receiving and responding to others' comments. Not all of us can be as persistently inquisitive as you've been.

    Idabean/Marie


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    RE: Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

    My understanding is that fresh-water wetlands includes areas that may be dry during part of the year, but where groundwater is sufficient during the growing season to support 50% or more of wetland vegetation or wetland indicator plants.

    An area with a spring pond "that dries up during the summer but stays moist" almost certainly qualifies.


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    RE: Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

    terrene is right - a "seasonal pond" is considered a vernal pool and is most definitely covered by wetland regulations. Many vernal pools are home to the endangered blue spotted salamander, as well as other salamanders and wood frogs.


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    RE: Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

    I think you guys are right that the seasonal pond is a vernal pool. When we ran our fence it follows the property line until we're about 40' from that pond, then we jogged it in about 20' to stay far away from it. The vernal pool is in this no-mans-land that is a paper road between our house & the neighbor's house. A paper road is one that is on the books as "something they could build someday" but it's never been built. This subdivision was mapped out in the 1950's, before wetlands conservation really took hold.

    I'm a huge fan of that vernal pool because I think it will make it hard for the town to ever build a road there, if it's ever recognized as wetlands (it isn't on the map of town wetlands today). So in a way I'm being hypocritical ... we disturbed soil & vegetation that's within the 100' buffer zone but I'm optimistic that the same pond will help keep that paper road from becoming a real road, if the town ever thinks about building one. It's been 60+ years and they haven't done it yet, so maybe they never will.

    Idabean - you're right about that bed, it is too small. The more I look at the space & think about where to have a veggie garden & a shed someday, I can see a sweeping path from the deck stairs out to the shed/garden, and that would make a better border for a much bigger version of that bed. It also gives me an easy walk to the post that holds a bird feeder.

    I don't take offense at your remarks, I've never had the luxury of looking at the big picture before. We've moved 3 times for work in the last 11 years and I'm not doing that again. So finally, we can put down real roots in this house. I've been trying to contact a couple landscapers who were well recommended but they're all very busy, so I won't get to work with a professional designer until late fall or early winter, probably. For now I'm just mapping out where we get full sun so I can figure out the veggie garden location with some certainty. My options for full sun are slim, these trees (and the neighbors) cast a lot of shadows.

    Terrene - we're in Eastern Mass, about 20-25 miles from Boston. $13k included grinding over 30 stumps (most guys around here charge $100 - $150/stump) plus several loads of fill and over a dozen loads of loam for the front, side, & back yards. I know, it sounds like a lot of money but the other estimate I had was $7k for just the front yard (which is less than half the size of this, and didn't have any stumps). Total time was 11 man-days (crew of 2 or 3 guys on the different days) and they hauled out a massive truckload of rocks they unearthed. I guess it might have been cheaper if I'd shopped around but I don't think it would have been much less, and I really liked this guy.

    You raise a good point about starting a lawn now. I need a ground cover to keep that white dog white during the muddy fall season. We'll have to overseed in the fall, and possibly again in the spring. The front yard is going to be bare until the fall though, b/c no white dogs play in the mud out there.

    Question ... I've seen this tool that is used to drill holes 12" - 18" deep in the area around the drip zone of a tree. One source (Minnesota's DNR site) suggests drilling holes every 1-2' near the drip line of trees that could have been damaged by soil compaction. Does anyone here have opinions on this? Smart, stupid, pointless?

    I know the best thing is to avoid damaging the trees to begin with & these guys did a good job of avoiding the root zones ... but I'm sure they had to drive over some roots in some areas. It probably would be impossible to NOT drive over some roots because the canopies of these trees touch. So I'm thinking about doing this drilling-thing to hopefully minimize any damage. Thoughts?

    Thanks!

    Here is a link that might be useful: Article on fertilizing trees


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    RE: Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

    don't be afraid of to much lawn. I have about 12 ac of landscaping the maine way and more than an ac of lawn ( mowed to lawn hight not grass only). I use it only 2 or 3 times a year but it is worth every min. of work. First it was the place to go on the 4th of july for our family (4 generations of both sides). It gets small when you have 40 people playing bad mitten, frisbee, and catch without getting into the picnic tables. Second when my 75 year old mother gave me an old hand crank cider press and then told the school, where she is nurse, that my house was a good spot for a field trip. I have 300 fruit trees and for the last 5 years the 2nd grade class comes in late september to learn about planting, growing , harvesting, and pressing apples for cider. They all leave with a bag of apples they like (take a bite if you don't like it throw it in the press)and a 1/2 gallon of cider. In 2 years my grand daughter will be part of that trip I hope the northern spy's will have enough fruit set that is her fave now. landscaping is not about what you want now but what you want 20 to 30 years from now. If you are going to be the family's go to person in 20 years you have to start planing now. My son just planted 40 fruit trees at 30 he expects to be the next. Just a sugestion plant a few fruit trees. There is nothing like the feeling of a grandchild sitting on your sholders kicking her feet with peach juise running in your hair.


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    that dream lawn

    Quick note:
    New Englanders: will white clover sprout and grow in our summer? If people say "yes" Plant a ground cover like white clover. Requires less work, less water, will add organic matter to soil. You'll till it under late summer and seed in late August, early september.

    Before you seed, go to the lawn forum and check on the window for fall seeding.

    If you plant grass now, I swear you will sweat blood and tears trying to keep that area watered, it is too hot for northern grasses to grow healthily now, and the birds will compete for every grass seed sown. They'll want clover seed too, but the stakes are not as high.

    Sorry, with vernal pool nearby, you don't have the luxury of Preen and round up. So you need to either do a green mulch (clover) or bark mulch so weeds won't come in and cause a gardening nightmare in three weeks.

    I"ll write more about mid summer landscape jobs and how trecherous to plants they are. But later.
    MT


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    RE: Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

    White clover likes cool, moist conditions to germinate, I don't think it would like July temperatures here. So far the Scotts Water-smart seed is doing well. It has sprouted and the white coating makes it unpalatable to birds. There are definitely weeds in the soil, I'm sure of that because I've also seen little two-leafed sprouts and grass sprouts have 1 leaf. But, as long as we can mow it, we'll consider it grass for the backyard.

    In the front yard we'll seed in the fall. That's where we care about the grass appearance. In the backyard we are really just shooting for functional as opposed to "golf course gorgeous". I still expect to overseed this fall because I don't think enough weeds & grass will have sprouted to be a nice, thick groundcover.

    By bark mulch - do you mean the bark mulch they sell in bags (or deliver for $30+/yd)? I almost think sod might be cheaper for a half acre :) That would be 123 yards of mulch, or close to $4k (for 2" depth, which isn't enough to really stop weeds but would cut down on mud & improve usability of the yard).

    So far the seeding has cost $350 ($100 for fertilizer & $250 seed) plus $170 for an electric tiller to make the soil fluffy plus roughly $300 for hoses & sprinklers.

    The hoses, sprinklers, and tiller are things we'd need if we seeded in the fall. So if this fails we will have wasted $350 (and a chunk of water, but our water bill is usually $70/quarter so I think our water is cheap). We had some great, slow, drizzly rain yesterday & last night so I've had a break from running the sprinklers today, it was nice.


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    missed the entire grass conversation

    Hi Pam,
    I did not reread all the posts and completely forgot you're already onto the grass. I did mean that kind of mulch, but thought to myself it would be a sea of mulch and expensive, but I didn't have any other ideas about how to keep the weeds at bay except black plastic, newspapers which are pretty unattractive, esp. in a big expanse.

    I used an excellent design/install landscaper this year and last. She's on Angie's List. She's a joy to work with. She is not a "mow and blow" installation operation. She knows plants as well as design. Her workers are very, very polite young men.

    Please write to me via GW if you would like her name. I do not get a commission. You can also visit if you'd like to see the project she completed although it is still immature.

    In late June about 15 trees and shrubs were installed, and at least a half dozen were transplanted (bad time, my fault; I insisted) Immediately we had a torrid hot spell and at least three weeks of no rain. It was very, very hard to keep everything watered. The heat stressed the plants. The heat stressed me. We didn't know the temps would be high and dry for three or four weeks, but if I had to do it over I would have waited for late August, which most good gardeners would tell you is a very very good time to plant.

    The one big regret about my gardening life is that I didn't put the trees and shrubs in first. Twenty years later they would be mature and in their prime. But I didn't get interested in them and didn't want to spend money on a tree that could be used for 30 plants. Big Mistake.

    Keep us posted.
    Marie


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    RE: Pictures of Grading Work (Thanks for advice!)

    Hi Idabean,

    One year we had an inground pool removed from the backyard. PO had landscaped all around it with beautiful shrubs & perennials. We had it moved the first week of July & I had to move all those shrubs to the front yard. And it was hot. And sunny.

    I wound up taking a roll of unprinted newsprint and making shade-hats for all those plants. It looked like some kind of botanical KKK had joined the lawn (all the hats were in the shape of big tee-pees). And this was the FRONT lawn.

    The hats plus massive use of soaker hoses saved the day & all the plants made it. But it was stressful going for a bit.

    I'm going to try emailing you through GW (never done that before) to get the name of your landscaper. Fingers crosses that she's in the area (I wonder if she's one of the two I was trying to get connected with earlier, that would be ironic since one of them is a woman & owns a company).

    Thanks!
    -Pam


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