Monday, May 17, 2010

New Grass or New Garden?

After picking up all the oak leaves from our front yard this year, we discovered that yet, once again, all the St. Augustine had died.  Well, there is one small patch still growing just on the other side of the azaleas in this photo.  Innumerable pallets of sod and plugs have gone in over the 20 something years we've lived here.  Each time we replace grass I try to make the planting beds larger so we have less  grass to deal with. 
Yes, we have an irrigation system.  Yes, we have fertilized.  No, we don't spray insecticides.  Yes, I find this photo embarrassing. 

We began enlarging the front garden by bringing in a load of compost from the county recycling center.  More will be brought in later but for this project just one truck load was enough. 

My 'muscle' unloaded the truck and spread the compost for me.  I love him.  I removed the liriope border that had been behind the white caladiums and in front of the Asian jasmine to use for the new border.

One of the ilex schilling bushes was removed and replanted further down the driveway.  A swatch of Asian jasmine was removed and placed in the center of the new garden area.  The 'White Christmas' caladiums were the reason this project was not done earlier.  I was waiting for them to sprout so I could see where they were and could move them.  They were grouped together on one side of the new pathway. 
Eucalyptus mulch was applied between the stones of the path and oak leaf mulch was put down in the planting area.  Yes, we picked up the leaves and then put them right back in the same place.  But, NEXT year this area will self-mulch.  Yay!

Most of the plants were just relocated from other parts of the yard.  So, the only new purchases were the stones for the path and a gardenia tree which is blooming its head off and scenting the new entry path.  I did plant some caladium bulbs which had been purchased a few months ago and were already sprouting.  I hope to see them lending color to this area very soon. 
Just as I finished this project a rain storm began.  What perfect timing to water all the new plantings.

The bushes need to be trimmed, the windows need to be washed, and the front door needs fresh paint.  But I think I'm going to put  enlarging more front garden areas at the top of the list.  It's just so much fun!


  1. Great before-and-after photos! I love that paver path. The St. Augustine in my front yard died last year as well. It was in full sun. I had forbidden my husband to spray, much to the dismay of my neighbors with their perfect lawns that are sprayed every month. Anyway, the sod looked pretty for a good four years. Then last summer, something did it in. The grass under the oak canopy seems to fare so much better in my yard. It's still lush and green back there. (knock on wood). Anyway, I do want to do away completely with St. Augustine, but husband insists on resodding. He agreed to expand the beds, which turned out to be about one foot wider. Hmmmm... Will we ever see eye to eye?

  2. NanaK,
    I just love that new project! You are so wise to quite fighting the inevidible. And you have the perfect start with those oaks to go ahead and plant out the entire front. Some think planting beds are harder than grass... I think they are so much easier once they get established. So much more fun that's for certain. I've been out in the rain all morning dividing plants and transplanting them elsewhere... it's one of the most rewarding tasks in all of gardening. You did a marvelous job using what you had and adding just the right things to finish off the look. The stones are great! This rain (and cloud cover while I work) is a blessing after so many weeks without it.

    Finished with lunch ... now back to it.

    Oh, I KNOW I left a comment on your last post about the golden globe. Blogger must have eaten it. BLEH! I had said that I have mine in full sun... seeing yours in the shade makes me think I should move some of it to see how it does for me in the shade. Anyway, yours is really pretty. I have the variegated one also.

    Have a great day... enjoy that pretty front entrance. Meems

  3. Proofread: That would be 'quit' and 'inevitable'.

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  5. Sorry, had too many typos in previous comment, so had to delete it. Let me try one more time.

    Your new front area looks pretty already. Love that paved path! I agree with Meems that the flower bed is more fun to work with than the grass. Now you have more interests in the front for your garden pacing every day :) I also have some projects in my mind, just did not get time to get to them, and with summer is approaching, I might have to delay them to the fall... Enjoy your new flower bed!

  6. Your new project turned out really nice. Any excuse I can find to reduce my lawn is welcome. Looks like you now have room for lots of new plants. Good job!

  7. Hi Kay...Great idea! It's always so much fun when an idea comes together, and this one looks great. The stepping stones and landscape make your entryway so inviting. I especially love the white caladiums...they create such a cool-feeling in the heat of summer. You've got the knack for creating beautiful spots in the garden, and the luck for getting Mother Nature to provide the rain on cue. Enjoy your new entryway project.

  8. Floridagirl - Interesting that your St. Augustine does well under the oaks. I've been blaming my problems on my oaks. I do like the look of SOME grass to set off the planting beds. If your hubby allows an increase of 1 foot each year pretty soon you'll have the whole yard! My husband would just as soon I plant out the whole yard. Especially if he doesn't have to pick up the leaves.

    Meems - Thanks for your kind words about my project. I am hoping to keep going out there. The oaks do provide a shady work area and the little rain that comes through just makes it all cooler. I hope you had a wonderful time outside in your garden. Hmm... variegated Golden Globes... I'll have to keep my eye out for that. I'm hoping to use some in one of the new front beds as ground cover. The tag said sun/part sun so I was really thinking I had put it in the wrong spot, but it sure seems happy in the mostly shade.

    Ami - Funny about the typos. Did you see Meems comment above yours? Something in the air of blogworld:) I hear you about it getting too hot for big projects outside. I am lucky in that I have mostly shade and it is sometimes 10 degrees cooler there. So my projects will be in the shady part of the garden.

    sanddune - Yes, lots more room for plants. My husband is all for reducing the lawn. That's always been his job so he's fine with being 'downsized.'

    Susan - Thanks for looking. I appreciate your compliments. I planted lots more caladiums in the bed which are pink. I tried to use lots of white and pink.

  9. Oh Kay! What a fantastic transformation! You should be soooooo proud of this space! I'm loving it!

  10. It looks great! I especially like the caladiums in the corner of the path, brightening it up and matching the white door and trim. Well planned!

  11. Kimberly - Thanks. I am very happy with it.

    RFG - Thanks. I did actually have a plan for a change:)

  12. NanaK, Your front yard looks great! I dito your goodbye grass. I bet your seeing lots of butterfly's. Janis

  13. Love what you are doing with your yard. I also refuse to spray...and I think the chinch bugs love that. The lawn is basically weeds now. I want to put plants in, but my s.o. likes a lawn (he is definitely NOT a plant person). It is an ongoing battle. Told him if he wants to re-sod, he is the one who will do it...not me.


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