Friday, April 29, 2016

Creating a Secret Garden


I know, big shocker, right? 

I'm always working on something, it seems.

Even more of a shocker? 



It was out in the garden. 

I know....try and contain your complete and utter astonishment. 

This is one of those projects that is quite extensive and I will be working on in stages. 

Because it's going to involve a lot of back breaking labor on my part. 


This is the area I'm determined to turn around. 


 It's an incredibly sloped, weedy, horrible section of lawn. 

That has no business being lawn. 

It's a nightmare to mow and it frustrates me every single time. 

So I decided it was time to do something about it. 

I'm working on a 'Grand Master Plan' for this area, which I will reveal a little later in the post. 

For phase 1, I started with the area right along the retaining wall. 


I began by cutting open cardboard boxes and laying them out along the wall. 

The boxes will smother the weeds and eventually break down into the soil. 

They will save me many hours of trying to dig up and toss away those millions of dandelions and other weeds that were growing rampant along the edge. 


I bought 5 bags of compost and 5 bags of garden soil. The compost went down first, over the cardboard. I dumped the garden soil on top of the compost and smoothed it all out. 


Then I gathered up some rocks from around the property. I will eventually need some larger rocks for the vision I have in my  mind but this is a good start. 


I had purchased some perennial ground cover plants for this area at my local garden center. I will also be adding some ground cover plants I am digging up from other areas around my house. There is no shortage, believe me!


Ground covers are perfect for this area because they have very shallow roots that run along the surface of the soil, rather than down deep. Since the cardboard will be working to smother weeds for the next couple of seasons, I needed plants with shallow roots. 

Plus, they will eventually all blend together into a lovely 'carpet' of various textures and colors. 

Much more exciting than a weedy old lawn, don't you think? 

The rocks were used to line the edge of one area that had no 'lip' to hold in the soil. 


I also included some rocks in each bad as 'accents' - I would like to make this very much an alpine garden, or rock garden in this area along the edge. 

It will work nicely with the landscape and with the plan I have for the rest of this section. 


For now, I'm happy with the progress I've made. It looks so much better already!


This is pretty much the first thing people see when they pull into my driveway. 


You can see how the retaining wall runs along the edge of the driveway, right by where my guests park and enter my house. 


I had started to think about the 'transformation' last fall, when I added some spring bulbs to the top layer of the wall. I also threw down a bit of soil and added the Ajuga I dug out of the veggie garden a couple of weeks back. There was already some Ajuga growing there, so adding more will just help it fill in faster. 


You can see how sloped the land is here. This area really does not work well as a lawn.


This is the same area, looking at it from the garage parking area....essentially the upper parking area, as opposed to the lower parking area where we were before. 

That stone path leads to the short set of steps that lead up to the deck, by the kitchen door. 


Looking down from the deck by the kitchen door, this is the same sloping, weedy lawn area I want to rehab. 

The area in the bottom right part of the photo is a perennial bed. 

You can see a hint of the new plantings in the upper right, along the edge.  


Still looking down from the deck, while standing near the tall deck stairs, you get a bigger picture of the area. 

So what's my plan? 

Well, it's still a work in progress. But here's a very VERY rough idea of what is in my head. 


So basically there would be no lawn left on this upper slope. It would be rock gardens, perennial bed and shrubs, and a stone path and seating area. 

I see it as a 'secret garden' surrounded by roses, peonies, cottage flowers, and wildlife. 

Am I crazy? 

Perhaps. But I've done it before, transforming a muddy, clay, hard packed back yard into a woodland paradise. 

And I can do it again. 

60 comments:

  1. I think it's a great idea, and it already looks so much better! Plus, no more harried mowing over it.
    Brenda

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    1. I seriously hate mowing that section - especially as you get closer to the retaining walls. It frustrates the heck out of me!!

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  2. I think that is going to be a wonderful focal point in your curb appeal. I like having big rocks in gardens too. Blessings to you working woman. Roar !! xoxo, Susie

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    1. Ha ha the last time I was moving big rocks my back was out for about two weeks - perhaps I should whimper rather than roar? :)

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  3. Looks like a great plan! Groundcovers are wonderful, I have ajuga too, along with vincas on the mountainside behind the house.

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    1. I forgot about Vincas - I don't have any, perhaps they aren't perennial in my zone?

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  4. I have no doubt you will do it, Deb. I love popping over here. You are such an inspiration. I have lots of plan, too, for this lot. I just hope I live long enough to do it all. lol

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    1. I have such ideas in my head, Deb, but whether or not I can bring them to fruition remains to be seen!!

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  5. I just found your blog and I am enjoying reading about your projects!

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    1. Thanks, Debbie - welcome to my blog!!

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  6. Yes I hear you roar Deb! It all looks so beautiful. You are putting into action such great ideas and visions, but I must ask a question...when do you sleep? You post almost daily, work full time, and seem to do 'stuff' every day!?!?!?! ;-)

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    1. Ha ha, Lori, I DON'T sleep!! I am up half the night every night and I guess it gives me way too much time to plan and dream and think about every little thing!

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  7. I think although it will be a lot of work the finished product will look so nice and not have to be mowed. Good luck and lots of energy to you! Nancy

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    1. I'll need it, Nancy - better start doubling up on my vitamins!

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  8. Oh, I SO see it! I actually was envisioning it before I scrolled down to see your diagram. It's gonna be glorious! Rock on, sistah!

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    1. Great minds think alike, Daisy Gurl!!

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  9. Roar is right!! I am always in awe of your energy and your gardening skills!

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    1. And I am in awe of your DIY talents, Kim!! :)

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  10. Oh, wow! I love your blog! I so enjoyed this post and seeing your beautiful transformation that is already taking place. This will be so lovely, and you have a beautiful home! Now, I must tell you what brought me to your blog in the first place. I was reading Dayle's post on "A Collection of Days", and when I went to comment on her post, my eyes fell upon YOUR comment a few comments above mine. This is what you said, "Sometimes you just need to know when it's time to cut your losses and start fresh." Oh, my word! THAT is just what my family and I needed to hear today in light of some things we are facing and going through!!!! I know God spoke to me through your statement, and I just wanted to come here and let you know. May He bless you for your obedience to Him. I will be following your wonderful blog now. So happy to meet you!

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    1. Thanks so much, Cheryl, and I'm so glad you popped in! Best of luck with your fresh start - it can be difficult but can also be very worth it in the end.

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  11. What a good plan! It will be beautiful in no time...better than trying to mow a slippery slope...

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    1. Better by far, Donna - I just need to get my butt in gear and get busy!!

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  12. It looks beautiful and I love how your yard looks. I have used the cardboard down too on beds.

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    1. It's a lifesaver at times, Betty, isn't it?

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  13. You are a busy lady, enjoying creating new garden spaces and they will reward you with much beauty.

    Have a nice weekend ~ FlowerLady

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    1. It was a wet, cold weekend, Lorraine, nothing like your sunny Florida weather for sure!

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  14. I think that is an excellent plan! Now hurry up and get busy....we're anxious to see your secret garden! ;))

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    1. You and me both, Donnamae - mowing season will be in full swing after all these rains!!

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  15. I feel your excitement and I'm excited to see your transformation. Enjoying your blog!!

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    1. Thank you so much, Laurie! I'm pretty excited to see it progress, also!

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  16. I am in awe of your ability to transform an eyesore into an asset! I wish I had half of your drive and determination!

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    1. I wish I had twice my energy, Vickie!! I need a clone!

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  17. I just love readiing about your projects! Your place is beautiful.
    Lisa

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    1. Awww, thanks, Lisa - you're so sweet!

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  18. I love your vision for this area and you have made it look so nice already! I just used the cardboard trick too and it saved me tons of work. Looking forward to seeing how your area develops.

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    1. It was looking good this morning with all the rain we had the past couple of days, Teresa - but the grass and weeds will be growing like mad also, unfortunately!

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  19. What an incredible transformation already - looks wonderful! That's a lot of work to do by yourself, too. Superwoman! :-)

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    1. Wonder Woman was one of my favorite shows growing up....:)

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  20. Your vision is wonderful.

    I've been working on my garden for a few years and this is the first spring where I feel my garden is almost where I want it to be.

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    1. I can't wait to see more of it on your blog! Isn't it wonderful when it all starts to come together?

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  21. It is looking good already! I have done the same thing with cardboard when I wanted to start another area for veggies a few years back! :)

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    1. With the rocky, clay soil we have here sometimes it just makes sense to plant "up" instead of down, Deb!

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  22. It is looking good already! I have done the same thing with cardboard when I wanted to start another area for veggies a few years back! :)

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  23. That is a great idea but such a big project. The bed looks cut now so I know it will be gorgeous when you finish.

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    1. It is a big project, Barbara, and I am still mulling around the details in my brain....

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  24. I think your new garen looks great! Once it's blooming it'll be a great burst of color when pulling into the driveway!

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    1. It sure will, Pamela! I adore a cottage garden so I can't wait to see it come to life!

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  25. What a great start and plan for a secret garden! I can't wait to see how it all comes together and also a few years down the road when it has really had a chance to grow in. :)

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    1. I'm still working on details in my mind, Debbie....sometimes it keeps me up at night, trying to figure it all out! :)

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  26. What a great start and plan for a secret garden! I can't wait to see how it all comes together and also a few years down the road when it has really had a chance to grow in. :)

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  27. Hi Deb - Could you give me the name of some ground cover plants that grow well in between large rocks on a walk-way. Thanks

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  28. That looks great! I think it's an awesome idea to fix that pesky part of the yard.

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    1. I guess I need to start eating my spinach so I can get strong like Popeye....

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  29. Not crazy! It sounds amazing! Love what you've done with the retaining wall. Thanks so much for linking up at Best of the Weekend!

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    1. Thanks, Amy!! It will look better, of course, when the edges blur.....but that could be quite some time!

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  30. Dear Mountain Mama:
    It looks wonderful. Each year is a new year and next year it will be so progressed. Thanks for linking and sharing.

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    1. Gardens are really belief in the future, aren't they?

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  31. Oh my goodness - you sound just like me. I keep buying chicks and hens, digging up rocks and dumping compost. I trust it will eventually work out :D

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    1. The critters are pulling up my hens and chicks - darned critters!!

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