Monday, August 8, 2011

Improving the View from the Shop Part 2, It's Finished

When we embarked on this project we knew that there would be quite a change in the looks of this area, however I don't think we quite anticipated how much we would enjoy the finished outdoor space. All the plants in are, the landscape fabric is in place, and the pine straw and cypress mulch is in place. Now it's up to us to keep the plants alive.

We have a watering schedule and so far everyday we've watered it's also rained. When people complain about not having rain there's on old saying, "to get some rain you've gotta pay the preacher". Our landscape contractor Charles just happens to be the minister of our church so we've paid the preacher, literally. I guess that's why the recent scattered thunderstorms have found their way to our patch of earth for the last several days. At least that's my story and as long as it's raining I'm sticking to it.

As you can probably tell this is a woodland garden and it required some thought to select plants that would grow well under these conditions and would also be somewhat deer proof, if there is such a thing. The plantings consist of Kanjiro Camelia, Wax Myrtle, George Taber Azaleas, Tallulah Sunrise Native Azaleas, Formosa Azalea, Radican Gardenias and Autumn Fern. Recently we've added some Variegated Hosta which is probably like announcing that the salad bar is open to the deer. We'll be tuning up the motion activated sprinklers this evening in hopes of scaring the deer away if they happen to frequent the garden. If it doesn't scare them away at least it'll cool em off while they're enjoying the hostas.

It's been hot here but sometimes in the evenings after a thunderstorm it actually gets somewhat tolerable to be outside and these days Julie and I have spent a lot of time in our new garden space.

Of course now we have another problem. Since this area looks so nice, we now have about 5 other areas in the yard that look particularly ratty and poorly maintained. When you own property the list of chores never ends.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Improving the View from the Shop

When I look out of the windows of my shop I see the pergola structure in the right side of the picture below and also this vacant lot looking space. This is an old house site. Julie and I have been brainstorming an idea to improve the looks of this place. We decided on some type of garden. We knew we could put down some timbers and back fill these spaces with soil and I guess that would have created some kind of garden but this idea seemed to lack any real inspiration so we just slowed down to take time to give this some thought. When we would visit the pergola structure for cooking out and just relaxing in the swing we studied this area in an attempt to develop a plan.

This is a view of the flat space with the pergola and shop in the background. As you can see the Wysteria seems to like the location of the pergola structure just fine.

One evening (before the onset of hell......excuse me, I mean summer) while sitting in the swing we began to visualize a plan for this space. The first idea that came to mind was that we desperately need changes in the elevation in order to offset the boredom of a flat space, in fact we saw berms in our vision that resembled sand dunes.

The idea of changing the lay of the land in such an extreme way certainly took the scope of the project out of the realm of DIY so we contacted a landscaping professional who also happen to be a good friend. Charles is good at what he does and has a vast knowledge of plants and for this reason he had a backlog of work. We knew he was our guy so we waited patiently for our names to rise to the top of his list. Charles contacted us just before we left for Maine to attend the Lie-Nielsen Open House Event and when we returned he was ready to begin. The first order of business was dirt and a lot of it. In fact two large dump truck loads of top soil. I thought we might need three loads of dirt, Charles looked at me like I had two heads and commented that he thought two loads of dirt would be plenty and of course he was correct. He's a professional landscaper and I'm a plane maker and I guess I would need to keep that in mind.

The predominant soil composition in Georgia is red clay. As you can see in the picture the soil that was delivered to us was nice rich, loamy top soil. Knowing where to access the right materials is another reason to hire a landscape professional for this kind or work.

Today was the day they starting placing the dirt and by the end of the day a transformation had begun to take place. All our prior landscape projects had been accomplished with hand tools and a wheel barrow. Of course I certainly advocate hand tools, but shovels, rakes and hoes are a very different kind of hand tool and two men and a good piece of earth moving machinery was certainly the way to approach this task.

Of course a lot of our projects in the shop start with power tools and then the hand tools refine the work. It's the same with landscaping. The planting berms were all hand worked before they had taken their final shape.

Next up is weed block fabric on the planting berms, cypress much on the walking path and then all the plants and shrubs settled in with pine straw mulch. When I looked out the shop windows today it was already a much nicer view, especially considering I was in an air conditioned shop.