More gardening work

Another home, another batch of gardening.

Our home is a nice, wonderful little place. It does have a few quirks, notably the shoddy construction on the addition in the rear (I’m gonna need to spend some time under there shoring up insulation, the gap(s) in the skirting, and eventually punching a hole into the ventilation system to keep the pipes from freezing next winter) and a super-massive deck in the back that’s about 100% larger than it really needs to be. So I’m going to be busy this summer. That’s not a bad thing.

One other thing to tackle is the garden. Or rather the mess out front that should be a garden, and creating a new one in the rear.

The garden in the front has been an issue since about last fall, when we realized that the cedars on either side of the front steps were, well, looking more brown than green. Mark, a landscaper across the street, recommended we pop ’em out as they’re mostly dead. Unlike The Princess Bride, these poor bits of foliage won’t be making any miraculous recoveries. The problem is that the cedars don’t dig our kind of weather: dry and sunny. Especially when put up against a black post that radiates an inferno onto one side of the plant. Oddly enough, exactly where the brown was appearing…

The plan was simple: hit Home Depot, pick up some new plants for the front and back yards, and do a little landscaping. The Home Depot visit was pretty simple, if a bit chilly (Calgary wasn’t exactly warm this weekend). Picked up a few things, including a variety of perennials (mostly purples and blues, interestingly enough), a couple of bags of cedar mulch, and some annuals for the pots. Subsequent runs would acquire some more perennials for the front of the house (which was actually incidental to the need for the trip: returning a PEX crimping tool), peat moss, and composting material.

Home Depot pretty much recognizes me on sight now.

The first thing to go were the cedars. This is when I discovered something else — a former owner’s desire to put rocks all over the place. We have a few tonnes of river stones right against the walls and front steps. It took me a half hour just to clean off one side so I could dig out the cedar. I had to resort to brute force and tear it from the ground when I finally got it loose enough. That was another half-hour of work. I felt bad for ripping the poor things out, but there wasn’t much I could do for them. They’re lost causes at this point, sadly.

There’s now two piles of stones at the front of the house that we have to figure out what to do with. Alex hates them, and I think they’re nice when used correctly. Sadly, the “correct” use still alludes me. We’ll figure something out.

Then there’s the backyard, if you can call it a “yard”. It seems that one of the original owners of the house (I presume the first actual owners, who seem to have a plan for everything) opted to cover 2/3 of the backyard in a massive deck, rather than with soft grass and little gardens. So the backyard is effectively a wasteland of faded and peeling stain/varnish. The deck extends from the back of the house clear to the garage. It completely drowns out the rest of the backyard and leaves little to the imagination. (Which makes me wonder what imagination spawned the monstrosity in the first place.)

Whatever isn’t deck is either the small patch of grass next to the garage or a 12′ x 5′ patch of gravel. Yes, gravel. Why? Damned if I know! It’s atrocious. Combined with the immense deck, it really begs the question if the people who first had the house had any idea of what to do in the backyard. We’ve instead ended up with a complete hodge-podge of styles that really all need to be pulled together.

That’s part of what we’re trying to do next: clean it up. The plants in the backyard will take up some of the back corner. Garden #1. The grass we have to rip from there will go into the gravelled area to create some “new” grass. The gravel will be moved from there to the front of the house to replace the stones. The stones … well, we’re still stuck on what to do with the stones. I’m sure we’ll think of something. I’m just not sure what yet.

Hopefully this helps the backyard seem a little nicer. I’d prefer a massive tree back there to create some shade and bring in the sound that only comes from leaves rustling in a cool summer evening’s breeze. But there ain’t one, so I’ll make due with the smell of flowers. Little steps to a big finish. Or at least that’s the hope.

I just hope I can get the the deck apart without killing myself. Looks to me like the bozos who built it took a lot of shortcuts.

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