This is the first post of three sponsored by RISE’s AND not OR home and garden program. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
The backyard was so charming when we moved to this house! The previous owner spent her days in the garden and it showed. Years later with us and our combination of kids, a dog, and plain old neglect, we’ve done a number on it. I could barely keep up with the front at first because I was pregnant, and then it was even harder the next year when Calvin was a baby — forget about the back. I didn’t weed or replant the annuals. Without any grass in the back, Murray trampled and peed on the plants (mostly hostas), and they all died. I haven’t done much to change the yard for the better, and it’s definitely in need of some love.
I took the AND not OR approach in planning my front garden last year, and bolstered by that success, I’m turning my attention to the back. We have a cute new dining set on the flagstone patio with less than cute surroundings. I could pull off a close shot last fall, kind of, but take a step back now and it’s a mess.
The idea behind AND not OR is that there are a variety of ways to care for your yard, and you should take into account your style of gardening. I do like to be out there shaping our hedges and tending to the roses (especially as I’ve learned more about how to do it!), so I don’t mind a garden that needs some maintenance. We’ve got three kids though, plus a brand new puppy, so I’m trying to come up with a plan that’s going to work for our lives and schedules. Weeding, keeping pests away, pruning, shaping, and fertilizing — I’m happy to do it as long as it isn’t all day everyday. I need a balance.
RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment)® put me in touch with a Master Gardener again this year, Eric of Complete Lawn Care, Inc., and he confirmed that grass would be difficult to establish in our shady back yard. I know the hostas have flourished in areas where they’ve been left alone, and I’m learning a lot about what else could work in the garden from my local Extension site.
Here’s what I’m looking to do:
Create a cute backdrop for the dining patio.
Nestle the egg chair in among plants for a ‘secret garden’ feel.
Replace the trellises to better support and encourage the climbing roses at each end of the garage.
Reorient the barbecue or figure out a way to not see the ugly back of it.
Figure out how to keep the puppy from destroying the new plantings (tall border fencing?).
Focus on shrubs and plants that will kind of do their thing without needing too much help from me.
Local nurseries are starting to get their inventory out as the weather warms. I have a mix of boxwoods, hydrangeas, and yes some thriving hostas in other parts of our garden, and I want to continue with them as I work on the back. Maybe some urns, or more modern planters with annuals too? I’ve been thinking about this area since the fall and now that the time has come to actually work on it, I have too many conflicting ideas! Wish me luck as I get out there and start clearing the old stuff out. I think it’s going to be great once I commit to a plan and go with it.