Some front yard love for a change

Most of my gardening time is spent in the backyard. I'm not sure exactly why... maybe it's because it's a private area and I can do just about anything I want with plants, structures, whatever. In the front yard I feel more inclined to blend with the rest of the neighborhood and show more restraint. That doesn't mean I don't have planting beds in front, it's just that they're on a smaller scale. For example, there is no bamboo planted in the front of the house.

But today I'm tackling a couple of projects in the front yard: maintenance of one bed, and expansion of another.


First up, this bed by the front door:

For reference, the finch nest is under the porch just above this Japanese maple.

This bed had become a bit rundown lately, with a terracotta pot that is disintegrating, several weeds (mostly dandelions), and a plant that is no longer welcome:

Pulling the pot out (it didn't fall apart!) reveals several cicada holes and immature cicadas:

There seems to be quite a few of them; I think it might be the year of the 13-year brood here, which means a lot of cicadas in the next few weeks. (I just checked, and our last emergence was in 1998, so this *is* a big cicada year.)

Anyway, with the pot and weeds gone it's looking better:

The problem now is the wood oats. I love them, but this plant is no longer in a good spot because of the Japanese maple, and it keeps reseeding here:

I'm tired of digging up those seedlings every year, so this plant has to go. Normally I would save at least a division of a plant like this, but I have several of these throughout the yard so it's all going into the compost pile.

The wood oats are gone!

With the slate cleared now I can experiment with some other plants:

I'm not sure that I like the arrow bamboo, dappled willow, and small potted bamboo here, but I'll leave them for a few days and see how I feel about it then. I partially buried the pots to get the plants closer to the height they'd be in the ground and to help hide the pots while I make my decision. Something with larger leaves will probably look better.

Now it's on to the more difficult of the two projects. Difficult not only in the work involved, but also in making the decision to do it. I'm going to enlarge my tiny mailbox bed:

Last year I cleaned this bed up a bit and planted a few things, but only two of them survived: the 'Beatlemania' sedge and the creeping Jenny:

I would have been shocked if the creeping Jenny didn't survive here, as it grows just about anywhere.

Here's an idea of where this bed is in relation to the previous one:

I spent several minutes contemplating the shape of this new bed. I like curves, but with all of the straight lines of the driveway, street, and sidewalk coming together here, a rectangular bed made most sense. It's easier too.

So flat-bladed spade comes in for sod removal. I'm cutting pretty deep on these first few pieces:

Why? I've got a depression in the front yard where a tree once stood, and I'm going to use the cut sod to fix this. Here's the "hole":

Why is it always so difficult to get a photo of a hole? Here it is after being filled in with sod:

Those last two photos may have been the most boring of the year so far. Gardening is sometimes unexciting. I tell it like it is.

Clearing the rest of the turf was pretty tough, as the lawn here is surprisingly thick and lush.

With the ground bare here's a look at what I'll be planting:

It's a smaller bamboo that's just too pretty to keep hidden in the backyard. Sasaella masamuneana 'Albostriata' should stay under three feet tall for me here, but I can keep it shorter by trimming it if needed.

The soil here is unamended clay, so I just dug some shallow planting holes, spreading around the sticky clumps of soil:

I found a lot more cicadas:

Plus this guy which I've found in other parts of my yard too:

I'd really like to know what this is. Anybody?

I'll be covering everything with a few inches of compost, so the plants won't be planted too deeply. I want to encourage the rhizomes to stay close to the surface:

With the compost in place, that's planting done:

Now just a few extra plants, a little more compost, and the job is finished!

I added the same potted bamboo I had here last year, and a small pot of peppermint for some variety. I may add some other plants later. Maybe not.

I think it looks pretty nice right now, but in a year it will be even better.

So that's a good start on the front yard -- there's more to do though, so stay tuned!


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greggo  – (May 12, 2011 at 7:23 AM)  

I believe the worm to be an armyworm. not positive however. they usually aren't around in wet weather

Alan  – (May 12, 2011 at 10:22 AM)  

Greggo: you put me on the right track. I don't think it's an "army cutworm" though, maybe a "bronze cutworm". It's some kind of cutworm, which is just a moth larvae.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (May 12, 2011 at 10:29 AM)  

Alan, these are excellent changes. I love the Sasaella masamuneana 'Albostriata' at the base of the mailbox, and I think that Pseudosasa japonica would look great next to your Japanese maple.

Alan  – (May 13, 2011 at 6:21 PM)  

Blogger had some problems and it seems the comments made about this post are now gone. If you commented before, feel free to try and remember what you said and re-comment!

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