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What would you do?

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What would you do?

Postby bells4her » May 12, 2014 3:14 pm

Hi Everyone,

My partner and I purchased our teeny, tiny, starter-home roughly 2 1/2 years ago (picture attached). Since then, our front lawn has gotten worse and worse and is now at the point where it's literally all brown and dead with nothing but dandelions growing. We've now decided to completely remove the grass and replace with anything BUT grass. A few additional points, I'm hoping to do this with as little money as possible, I'd prefer to use perennials if possible, I'd like some sort of a walkway, and finally, we live in 3b Zone. So please, suggest away! I look forward to your wonderfully creative ideas :)

Thanks in advance,
Front Yard.jpg
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Re: What would you do?

Postby Justanotherider » May 21, 2014 10:52 pm

I'd check around town to see what perennials do well in your neck of the woods. You may find plants for sale at yard sales, or simply find some folks whom are thinning out some plants and will give them to you.

That hedge looks like it could shade the yard a lot, depending on the orientation of it. If that's the case, you will need some shade tolerant stuff like ferns, lily of the valley, etc.
Just when you learn how to garden really well, you're too old to do it anymore...
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Location: Ottawa Valley - zone 4b

Re: What would you do?

Postby oldgal75 » May 23, 2014 5:35 pm

I don't know when the photo was taken, but if recently then my first reaction would be that you might be cutting the grass too short. Especially in the spring it is important to mow often (every four or five days usually) and to set the mower blades as high as possible. Let the grass grow to about 3 inches then only mow one third off - that lets the grass recover from the winter and thicken. While you are thinking about what to do with the lawn area, remember to water the lawn using a sprinkler that you can leave on for 20-30 minutes or so. Walking about with a hose for five minutes doesn't give the lawn a good, deep soak and don't ever - ever - water in the middle of the day.

About those cedars at the side - someone in the past planted just such a row on the other side of our garden fence and they are now well over two storeys high and completely beyond anyone's control. They are a nuisance and ugly to boot! I would suggest, if they are on your property, you immediately start cutting them all level at the top and keep cutting them down gradually over a period of several years, until they are at a height that is manageable for whoever is doing the trimming - in fact turn them into a proper hedge which is all that is reasonable in properties that are close together as yours (and ours) are. They should bush out a bit as a result of this treatment and will be more attractive than if you let them keep on getting taller and taller. At some point too they will be shading either your garden, or your neighbour's, depending on east and west, more than you (or they) will want.

In the meantime, if you want to be a gardener who enjoys what he/she is doing I can heartily recommend you find copies of Henry Mitchell's books. He was the gardening columnist for 25 years for the Washington Post and wrote for real down-in-the-dirt gardeners and we all need reminding from time to time that our gardens should always be a pleasure not a worry or a chore. He is also very funny!
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Re: What would you do?

Postby tricone » May 24, 2014 8:40 pm

Nice house, it's a lot like ours!

A couple of rows or patches of interesting shrubs would be a good start - I would put some spireas or hollyhocks in there somewhere (I tend to go for shrubs that look after themselves). Pretty sure they are tolerant of your climate.

Are there any cheap local sources of old lumber to make raised beds? A good way to make your patch interesting would be to add some raised beds to fill with perennials or low-ish shrubs such as the aforementioned spireas. Black-eyed Susan is hardy as hell - a raised bed of those in summer is beautiful! Daylilies might also be ok - not sure what zone they are, but I've seen them in gardens in the Gaspe.

All depends on how much you are willing/able to spend, of course. I have a yucky front lawn which I want to get rid of eventually, but right now I can't spare the cash to replace it with anything meaningful so for the mean time I am simply going to hide it behind a hedge!
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