This is my favourite time of the year, spring has sprung and the garden has more surprises every day. Each morning seems to bring more life to the yard and my energy level goes through the roof. Time to go to my favourite place to spend money………the garden centre.
I love the garden centre and could spend hours there every day. We are lucky enough to live within five minutes walk of a wonderful one but I always drive as I never come away without lots of plants, far too much to carry. The folk who operate this treasure trove are knowledgeable and extremely helpful, I tell them what kind of area I am hoping to fill and they always come up with a wonderful selection of gorgeous plants and shrubs.
My yard is big enough that I can change a part of it each year so I always love to plan a spring project. A couple of years ago we had decided that we were tired of fighting with our hot weather and trying to keep our big lawn green. Summers seemed to be getting hotter and our grass would look dead and actually hurt the feet by August. It was not a pleasure to either look at or sit on.
Our remedy to this was to remove the grass and replace with gravel, at the same time constructing areas of interest to break up the large expanse of rock. We decided to just do half the yard the first year so, waiting till fall and the cooler weather, we started a very hard project.
First of all Dave sprayed weed killer on the grass we wished to remove, he did this twice, two weeks apart. We soon had a large area of dead grass and ordered two large truckloads of gravel. Who would think that bits of rock would cost so much? We lay down weed repellent membrane, one strip at a time and then the fun began. It takes twenty five shovelfuls of gravel to fill a large wheelbarrow, I counted them every time I filled one to keep my mind off my aching arms and sore back.
Then we each wheeled our loads to the membrane and dumped the gravel over the fabric. We had started the job at six am to work while it was cooler, at first taking a break every two hours. By noon the breaks were only two loads apart as we were truly weary. It took two full days to get the area covered and the two truckloads of gravel used up. After a couple of days of recovery time we decided that we really needed to put in something to break up the huge area of rock, it looked like a rustic car park. I came up with the idea of laying a chequer board of pavers and making an outdoor seating area.
We had lots of old carpet stacked away under the house that we had taken up in favour of laminate flooring. This carpet is what we used to form a big square on which to lay the pavers, as, laying them on top of the membrane would cause tears. We then laid out the pavers into a chequer board and filled in all the alternate squares with gravel. I put an ad in ODN for old wicker chairs and managed to acquire a collection of them, which I arranged round a central fire pit. After adding a couple of huge pots with shrubs, our yard looked quite natural and inviting. We will probably never sit in this area as it gets full afternoon sun, but it looks good and breaks up the big gravel area.
The following spring we repeated the process of weed killer on the other side of the yard but, having learned from our mistakes, we hired a man with a bobcat to do all the dumping of the gravel, whilst Dave and I just raked it into place. The feature we put on that side of the yard was two large rocks sitting on a small hill of coloured gravel. Once planted with cactus and shrubs, this looks like a desert oasis and I love it. We still have a large area of grass for the grandchildren to play on or pitch a tent but this can be mowed in less than an hour and takes very little water to keep it growing.
As stated before, I love playing in the yard. Now, if I could just work up the same enthusiasm for indoors, maybe my shelves wouldn’t need dusting and the windows would be sparkling. Somehow, working indoors is not nearly as much fun as playing outside, so I just entertain guests outdoors. My true friends understand that work inside my house comes second to playing outdoors and they don’t care about dust.