This past weekend we celebrated one year in our home. Inside, there are still a couple boxes that have never been unpacked (mostly books, and they haven’t been unpacked because we still have no bookshelves). But that’s neither here nor there. What I want to talk about is the outside of the house. The outside is hardly recognizable to what it was a year ago. And I mean that in all the best ways.
My goals for the outside of the house were to:
I’m happy to report that all of those goals (and more) been achieved!
Here’s the rundown on how those goals were accomplished:
The sprinkler system has shown to be a bit of a pain at times, but I think all the kinks have been worked out (fingers crossed). We opted not to do the installation ourselves. I think overall this was a good decision; we may still be installing it had we done it ourselves. But, I do wish I would have been more micro-managing and vocal at the beginning to make sure the sprinklers were installed where I had expected them to be. But, I wasn’t, so some sprinkler heads are closer to the property borders than I anticipated which then changed some of the other planting plans just a bit. Live and learn, I suppose.
The sod installation went much, much quicker than anticipated. We live in a great neighborhood and so many people showed up to lend a hand that we had it all down within three hours. Because of some trouble with the sprinkler system the grass has had some tough moments where I wasn’t sure it would pull through. And there are a couple spots where we had to replace some sod. But overall, it has done quite well and I’m glad we went with sod rather than seed.
First thing this spring, before the sprinklers were finished and sod laid, I planted three bare root fruit trees: two apples (a Cortland and Newtown Yellow Pippin) and a Bartlett pear. The Cortland apple has been looking a bit sad lately – I think the hot summer with no rain was a bit hard on it, but I’m hopeful it will pull through to next year. The Newtown Yellow Pippin has been feasted on by grasshoppers recently, which makes me quite upset, but it’ll survive. I’m a little worried that the pear got some fireblight – I know it’s been a problem in my neighborhood – but I’ll prune off those branches in late winter and we’ll see how it does.
In addition to the fruit trees I’ve also planted two ornamental/shade trees: a hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata ‘Paul’s Scarlet’) and magnolia (Magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’). And this morning I just bought two more – an Autumn Brilliance serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’) and an Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) – that I have yet to put in the ground. As far as shrubs go, last year when we first moved in I planted two elderberries (Sambucus nigra) and a smokebush (Cotinus coggygria), not where I wanted them to be permanently, but they needed to get in the ground to survive the winter. They are still in a temporary home near the back kitchen window; I didn’t want to move them this spring when the yard was in such commotion, and now I don’t want to move them until they are dormant – decrease the transplant shock and all. This year, I’ve added a flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa), a lilac (Syringa sp.), and a forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia ‘Northern Gold’) to my collection.
Going above and beyond my tree and shrub goal, I’ve also planted a variety of herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses: goldenrod (Solidago), coral bells (Heuchera), carpet bugle (Ajuga reptans) columbine (Aquilegia sp.), black-eyed Susan’s (Rudbeckia sp.), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Husker’s Red penstemon (Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’), and an evening primrose (Oenothera missouriensis).
Thanks to my husband, I had two garden boxes to grow vegetables in this summer. Unfortunately, only one of them performed (marginally) well; I’ve had a great crop of basil, a handful of jalepeno and Anaheim chile peppers, and my tomatoes are growing, just not ripening. I think the manure/soil mix I used in them must have been high in salts. I should probably do a soil test to make sure, but I might also just try planting again next year and see how it goes.
On top of all the planting we’ve done (are still doing), we also added on a side drive-way to the east side of our house – nice for additional parking, or a shady place to dine al-fresco in the evening. And I got the rock river (mostly) finished in the large parkstrip out front; I’ll probably be adding rocks to it forever, because when I dig a hole to plant in I inevitably carry the rocks that I don’t want to go back into said hole out to the “river”. The smaller section of parking strip still has a bunch of leftover gravel from when they did our driveway extension, so we need to clean out that mess before I can finish up the river there.
If you’ve made it all the way to the end of the post, you should win an award! All in all, I am quite happy with the progress our yarden (yard+garden) has made this summer and I can’t wait to see how it evolves and grows next summer.
How did your garden do this year? What were your major successes? Or failures – they are learning experiences, too. Tell me in the comments below.