Front Yard Do-Over (Again)

August 2008: This is the front yard the day we bought the farmhouse. To the left there is a holly tree, which we immediately removed since: A. I don’t like giant holly trees and B. It had a huge hole in the trunk and would be weak anyway. On the right was an odd little tree that resembled a ginkgo. It was not a ginkgo, but we did end up removing it for some reason or other. Normally, we don’t take down trees at all, but…


March 2009: Where the front garden all began. You can see that we fenced it in and were in the process of doing raised beds. There are lettuces, broccoli, onions, and cabbages planted here. What you may also see is that we did not remove the grass, which turned out to be a VERY BAD decision. I assure you, you will NOT WIN when battling Bermuda grass. Do yourself a favor, save your sanity and START WITH A BLANK SLATE.

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May 2009: You can see that the lettuces and broccoli are done. The cabbages, as you might notice, are completely eaten up by cabbageworms. Hurrah. Not. Also note that we had a nice watering system that misted all of the beds. Also note that the grass is growing at a rapid pace.

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January 2011: If you read my yearly reflections, you will know that I am always saying to live simply and not take on more than you can handle. Well, here I am, not following my own advice. Even though my front garden was crazy with grass and not well kept, I decided to plow up and landscape even MORE yard! Go me!


August 2012: Three years of battling Bermuda grass has driven us to the breaking point. It has invaded my beds and even grown into some of the wood. We have the tractor in place to remove the raised beds and we ended up burning them. It was a happy/sad day!


Here is the front space that we created back in 2011. I seeded it with a wildflower mix and a poppy mix. See the lovely grapevine on the fence? Something ate its roots not long after this photo was taken and the entire plant collapsed in two days. I still weep for that grapevine. This is early summer, 2013.

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These beds were also seeded with wildflowers. You can see my onion patch here, too.


June, 2013: You can see that the grasses have been trying to grow back. Also, note the blackberry bush in the lower left corner. It honestly made the nastiest blackberries I have ever had the displeasure of eating. They had to be dead ripe to get any sugary taste, and even then, it left your mouth with a bitter taste. Gag. It was labeled as Rosborough. Nope, never again. I finally tore it out in 2016.


Shpring has shprung! This is April 2014. I love the wildflowers, but they are just hiding the fact that I don’t really want to deal with the yard at this point. Trust me, there are a ton of grasses in there that are already seeding…


April 2015, from our bedroom window. Love love love me some irises!



A favorite orange variety, given to me by an old schoolmate! I adore this iris and it is very hardy. I divided it this year (2016), so I hope for a LOT more!  In the background, you can see oregano, then Lamb’s Ears, and….more irises!


Spring 2015:


Looking awfully grassy out there….No garden beds 😦


June 2016: The Brown-eyed Susans and Indian blanketflowers were absolutely insane this year. True, I had no real gardening beds (other than those right by the house), but I couldn’t tear these out…yet.


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September 2016: The breaking point that has built up for eight long years! It’s time to do this dadgum yard RIGHT! One of the major issues was that it was never properly leveled, so you were always walking up or down a slope. After a few hours’ deliberation and some quick sketches, Jason and I decided to do this right so we NEVER HAVE TO RE-DO THIS AGAIN. Time for the “reno”!

First, you take a backhoe:


And you start to work on the leveling. It is really impossible to tell here, but that little scrape-out is about 3 foot tall or so! And then…


You raze that sucker and get it as flat as a pancake! Notice, almost no weeds…Praise the Lord!


We left this cornerpost because it supports a big climbing rose I have. The apple tree is actually going to be removed as sadly, it is too blighted to keep. Darn it.


And, welcome to our desert garden!


Now, for this shot, I had to get in the bucket of the backhoe and Jason lifted me up. Did I mention that I HATE heights! Whew. The asparagus bed to the far right was removed and we put it along the newly created arch next to the driveway. I call this garden the “Salad Bowl” because of its shape!


Here you can see that bowl-shape I was talking about. And here we have laid out our beds to run east to west. I can see everything from my front porch! Woohoo!


All my cute little beds…



To keep me from losing my mind, we gathered all the pine straw we could to cover up the sand. I wish you could have seen how much came in through my front door in that first week…yuck. I hate a sandy floor! And you can also see the four ornamental beds I have created in the very front of my house. We used logs from our woods to make the edging. It’s still a work in progress, but I did relocate almost all of my roses to the beds on the left, and then a lot of irises to the bed on the right. The crepe myrtle coming up in the bed was a volunteer. We have more baby crepe myrtles than anyone I’ve ever seen. We have relocated many to the chicken coop and some more to the front yard. This particular one is a nice pink color. I have no clue where it came from!


Sanity has been restored! Here we are in October 2016! It’s pretty amazing because so much has already grown up in the two weeks since I took this picture.The roses have really started filling out, and I planted tons of bulbs and some daylilies.

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I hope you enjoyed the tour through time! If you take away anything, just remember that Bermuda grass is the devil and you’d better rip all that hot mess out before you get to planting! And yes, it goes deep underground. Had we done that to begin with, I’d have a really lovely eight year old garden now. Oh well! Live and learn!!!

Until next time!

I don’t want to be a farmer today.

On February 10th, we had a pretty catastrophic thing happen at the farm.  Over the course of approximately four hours, we received 3.40 inches of rain.  It was a deluge…absolutely torrential.  Admittedly, I did sleep through the majority of it with the exception of about 4 seconds at 4 in the morning when I peeked through my blinds to see rain falling so heavily that the entire world appeared white.

When I got up that Sunday morning, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, the grass was green….and my front yard had washed downhill.  The front yard that we have slaved on ever since the day we moved here.  For any new readers, you may want to take a look back at my posts about the Bermuda grass situation.  In a nutshell, the yard which we had decorated beautifully with a fence, gates, landscape timbers and 15 raised beds was razed flat to the ground because it was infected, YES INFECTED, with Bermuda grass.  After four years of battling the grass, we finally had enough and tore it all out this past September.   For many weeks, we sifted soil by hand to remove any remaining grass and we added countless bags of mulch anywhere that we didn’t want our plants to grow.  I have boiled down the process to a few sentences, but it took many  months of work to get where we are today.  Or at least where we were Saturday, because on Sunday about a quarter of my mulch was gone and my newly seeded wildflower bed was all but washed away.

As I was looking at the damage done, my eyes fell on my arugula/Asian greens seedlings.


Where the hell are my seedlings?  I frantically bent down, and performing some immediate Front Yard CSI investigative techniques, I discovered that the greens had been mowed down by a wild rabbit.

Great, so not only did my garden get hit by a flash flood, but now the seedlings that I had been waiting for since January got completely assaulted by a buck-toothed, garden-destroying furball.  It was just too much.  I should also add that I was in the murky depths of a hormonal fog.  So I was on the verge of tears standing in my garden, trying to take in the destruction that lay before me, trying to decide whether to give up, cry, or find some stray dynamite and do the entire thing in.

In the end, I got over it.  Jason vowed never to touch it again, and so far, he hasn’t.  He would love nothing more than covering the entire thing in about 10 inches of mulch and saying to hell with it.  Myself, on the other hand, being the type who is either absolutely insane or loves self-punishment, decided to keep forging ahead and take a clue from Mother Nature.  A good lesson here is to never work against Her.  Bad idea.  This time, I noted where the run-off had been the worst and just worked around it.  Why would I plant or put mulch there if they’re just going to get swept away?  Now I officially have my very own “Horseradish Island”…my way of working with Nature by allowing water to run around my horseradish bed in a natural, teardrop-shaped form rather than trying to keep a 4×10′ rectangle.  I also added some rocks to the upper sides of some of the beds to prevent any further erosion.

I ended up not crying, and not setting off any explosives.  As for the rabbit, two weeks after the flood, Jason called to tell me that a certain little furry enemy of ours was lying dead in the ditch beside our house.  I like to think of it as Mother Nature’s peace offering.

I accept.