Saturday, January 12, 2013

Soil tests, irrigation, lines, etc...backyard project continues

Well, I have been busy working on the backyard....the nursery that is closing down is practically giving away their inventory and I am taking advantage of it.  The front bed (although looks horrible now) was, almost,  maintenance free last year and so I am wanting to make my back yard bed the same way.  The following pictures show the process I have been doing to design the beds that are closest to the house.  I am definitely not an expert or even pretend to know what I am doing, but I am a little proud of the forethought in this bed.  

You can't open a magazine without them repeating (ad nauseum) about testing the soil.  Since my beds are going to be large and involved I picked up one at Lowes for $3.97.  The better test is by the extension office but my thinking is (hey, I am testing right?).  You get a sample of dirt and fill it.  You take the capsule and pour it in the tube and shake it.  You wait a few minutes.  And you check the color and match it to the chart.

Sometimes the colors are hard to gauge but it looked like the soil had some nutrients esp. nitrogen.  The plants I have planted thus far love acid.  Hollies, camellias, azaleas to name a few.  I, also, planted hydrangeas.  I want them to be blue so that requires acidity.  So I know it's somewhat acidic but I will amend a little.  And if the hydras are turning pink, I know that I might need to amend the soil some more.

These were the plants I put by the wall.  A couple of considerations.  First, it's on the north side of the house.   
Some areas get very little sun.  I wanted to maintain a formality so I laid down brick to guide my area.  This is a Don Juan climber I want to go up the pillar.  Along the wall are hydrangeas and on the outside corner is lorapetulum.

I started to black screen and THEN put down the plants but I thought better of it.  I changed my mind and put the plants down first.  I use weed barrier for obvious reason.  I use sod staples to pin them in the ground ESPECIALLY against the wall, where weed love to come up.  Word of advice.  DO NOT get dirt on top of the screen, will get grass or weeds for sure on any dirt that ends up on top of the screen.  The barrier is permeable so water does seep through.

Weed barrier

To increase the acidity or to turn my hydrangeas blue, I use aluminum sulfate.  I sprinkle a little around the drip line and water thoroughly.

Once I planted the plants and put down the weed step was irrigation.  I would like to use one soaker hose for the two beds I am making against the house.  I, also, needed to be practical and leave a space between the two beds to get to the faucet.  I was NOT fighting with plants to get to the faucet and timer....learned the hard way on this one too.

As mentioned, I am separating the two beds so that I can get to the faucet.  After the beds are in place, I will lay down mulch.  This soaker hose will be on a timer.  I, also, left a lot of space between the plants.  Hydrangeas grow FAST.

One thing I had to take into consideration was where the water fell off the roof.  I wanted a climbing rose to climb up this pillar but putting it directly on the corner would cause it to get beat up from all the rain, so I put it slightly to the side so that it would get pounded during heavy rains.  All the plants on this corner were moved up.  They will take some beating but not head on.

This bed has a couple of purposes.  First it's outside of a bedroom window, so I wanted to make sure I kept the room's vista in mind.  
If you are sitting on the porch it is the closest bed to you outside of the climbing rose and the hydrangeas, and to landscape the back of the house if you are at the this area will be seen a lot.

Here I have Japanese Yew (in the back because it's poisonous to eat), a camellia in the center, bottle brushes in front and azaleas to the side.  I wanted something that winter, spring, summer and fall flowers.  I, originally, had cleyera bushes here but the foliage matched too much.  I have learned that different foliage works better and offers some variety.

I did group them heavy but I wanted a compact look.  I kept space between the bushes and the wall because of the drip line, I didn't want to fight with the bush, the sun is better forward and I can run lines easier, etc.....  I am going to finish the weed barrier, the irrigation and the mulching on this.  I did add some aluminum sulfate to this as well.

As I have been working on this, I have used the landscape design program on the computer in prior posts.   I wanted to understand garden design better.  So I went back to the web for a better understanding.  The things that garden design websites mentioned was line, color, harmony...  I knew that unlike the front yard, the back yard had to be formal because when you walk out on the back porch, everything is nothing but angles.  So I used the sky pencils to form the line which I drew on this picture to show.

Given the number of plants I have going in the ground....I bought an auger.  I have not got used to it yet and I don't use it in places where, pipes, wires, or roots(tree) might be.  Otherwise I think it will be my new best friend.

After I finish these beds by the wall and porch it's off to tackle the corner.....things are still in pots so I can play with it still.

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