Reluctant Home Owner Inspired, or what I learned from planting pampas grass

A former colleague of mine, Erin, shares his and his wife’s incredible home improvement projects on ReluctantHomeOwner.com. While I had not purchased my home reluctantly, I had slipped into maintenance quite reluctantly. I remember the first time Erin shared his site and I spent hours fascinated and inspired. See, my yard had long suffered from a lack of a long term planning and some bad plantings. You could say I was notorious.

So notorious that my dear friend gave me Why Grow That When You can Grow This for my birthday. It was *just* the fuel that I’d been needing that I read the plant book into the wee hours (while catching up on Game of Thrones). The following day I pulled out some old drawings I’d had done of my home & yard and started at it … I would kill the Pampas Grass and replace it with Bamboo Grass, no, something that could handle bright sun. And so on. My housemates joined in on the daydreaming and idea planting and soon I had some friends over to build the start of a grand arbor and a wooden border around the dirt piles between the sidewalk and the street. A few drinks later and I agreed to let my friend kill the Pampas Grass. (Little did we know that it would take 2 days and a chain saw.)

That brings us to today. Hopefully next time I’ll remember to take proper before and after pictures. Until then, a recap of the day’s front-yard restoration project.

First, I started with a trip to the local nursery and some restrictions: NOTHING NOT ON THE LIST. No bushes, no trees, no vine, nothing that I wouldn’t be planting today. MEASURE AND MEASURE AGAIN. Check and double check the widths and heights. No redo of the pampas disaster. (You can see from where I originally planted it that I did not take into account its promised future growth.)

Sans Pampas, post wash, pre second plantings.

I started by hand washing the front of the house. A pressure washer would have been nice, but I got to practice my wax-on, wax-off arm exercises with a sponge. The bark was all laid a few weeks ago (as the sod was cut and rolled up last year) though is still mounded as we work on killing more grass on the left side of the house, where the rest of the bark will go.

The fun came with deciding exactly what would go where. What I learned from the pamaps grass incident:

  • Even though I don’t like the look of my house (ahem, vinyl siding) planting stuff that grows next to it causes bigger problems.
  • Without the grass blocking the window, when we’re in the dining room we can now see out – and have been enjoying the view.
  • I like having access to the hose in the front – so no grass should go in front or too close.
  • The Cotoneaster is not done growing. Again, no grass or plant that could invade its space should be planted next to it.

So I decided to start with a ground cover, then space out goldenrod (a nod to Nebraska and an interest in tinctures and raising honey bees) which blooms Aug-Sept, two “purple haze” grasses that bloom in Oct and a coneflower already in bloom. That left me with 2 tall, lilly like red flowers already in bloom and another tall, 2′ clumping grass to plant in the front corner to soften the connection of the sidewalk and the driveway and provide a better view from the dining room.

Night View from Street

Night View from Street

Now that the cool morning had burned off, that meant I got to don my big, straw hat and get to work digging holes, transplanting, putting my stone pathway back in and leveling off the bark to finish this half of my front yard.

Then came a crafty dinner and since I was in the mood, a decent stab at training the grapes up the new arbor. While it took quite a bit longer than expected, I’m excited to have my porch back and enjoyed spending the cool summer night checking out the progress from all angles including the living room and walking down the sidewalk from both directions.

Oh, and I wouldn’t dream of closing this out without sharing some of the fabulous creatures I encountered. I sure hope that’s not a black widow.

Black Spider

Black Spider

Unidentified Insect

Unidentified Insect

Extra: Today is Day 6 of my 30 day blog challenge. Click ‘Follow’ at the bottom of the page to receive weekly updates in your inbox or follow me on Tumblr if that’s your scene.