This is the second of two posts sponsored by RISE’s AND not OR home and garden program. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I’ve been out in the garden each sunny day since I last told you about my plans for the front! Before we talk about the rest, let’s pretend that bare dirt has nice green grass in it, yeah? I’ve never purchased sod before, and I’ve had the hardest time finding any for sale this year! I remember seeing a ton of it at garden centers before, but no luck so far. We may spread seed instead. (Here’s link with a handy list of grass types for the midwest at the end.)
There’s an antique iron fence around the front yard (which I like and want to keep), but if we planted grass up to the sidewalk, cleaning up the edges with a string trimmer would cause damage. We could either place pavers or bricks against the sidewalk and then grow grass up to the new edge, or we could soften the perimeter with a planting area. I chose to go with plants, which was a driving factor in adding another hedge row to mimic the others flanking the walk up to the front door.
I like certain garden tasks more than others. Pruning, trimming, and shaping? Love it! Weeding, deadheading, and tidying perennial borders? Not so much my thing. That’s what I was so drawn to with the AND not OR concept from RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment)® — taking into account your preferred level of maintenance while planning for a balanced approach. Some people (like the previous owners of our house) love to spend their days caring for a garden, some want it to be as easy and carefree as possible, and others (like me) fall somewhere in the middle.
I like neat and tidy hedges and am willing to work to keep them that way, and then we’re adding grass, which increases our weekly mowing just a bit. I’ve also added a few other bushes rather than perennials for ease of care, and I’m selecting hardy varieties. We already have a Dwarf Alberta Spruce, for example, that needs spraying to control spider mites. It’s mature and I will care for it, but knowing its needs I’m not planting more.
Here’s a sketch I made while I was planning everything.
A few things have changed, but that’s the general idea! I planted yews as foundation hedges to soften the front of the house, and added hydrangeas in front. I was torn between smaller, more upright panicle Bobo Hydrangeas (like in the sketch) and big mophead Annabelle Hydrangea. Both are exceptionally cold-hardy and bloom reliably, but I chose Annabelle because I like the fluffball explosion of flowers it produces. I also added two Yuki Cherry Blossom Deutzia (a new dwarf pink variety) between the fence and the new hydrangeas.
As the established boxwoods are rejuvenated and reduced in size over time, the newly planted hedge will catch up. I want them to be about 32″ high, and I’m guessing it will take at least four or five years before they match? Executing a garden plan is an exercise in patience! Once the center area has filled in with grass it will look far better, but all of the little bushes need to grow for the yard to really look like I want it to.
I cleaned up the yard a lot. There were two rose bushes: one with red roses that I removed, and another with pink blooms that I’d like to relocate. There’s a perfect sunny spot for it on the side of the house, tucked behind another boxwood hedge next to a climbing rose, alliums, and peonies — too bad I didn’t think of it until now! It’s far better to move roses when they’re dormant, so it will have to wait. I’ll do more along the front edge next spring when I have more of a blank slate there.
I’m not totally sure what I want to plant in that spot yet anyway. It should be something that would be pretty peeking out from the fence for passers-by, but it’s also a main part of our view from the front porch. My sketch had a couple of peonies. Maybe I would line the front with a whole bunch of them? They’re so lovely in bloom… for like, five days. (But it would be a glorious five days!)
I laid landscaping fabric around the yews before adding mulch and repurposing some of the flagstone we had as stepping stones. I’m hoping that preventative step will mean less weeding over time, but the stone path will make it a little easier to get back there when I need to.
RISE has been sharing more AND not OR tips for yard maintenance on their Facebook page or Twitter channel. By embracing AND, not letting OR limit the ways you can care for your garden, you can choose from all of the solutions you need for your family, home, and lawn.
I’m looking forward to seeing how everything matures! The bones of the garden are in place, and I like that there’s still room for experimentation and changes over time.