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Our 2017 garden makeover

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Post  CitizenKate on 2/19/2017, 9:05 pm

We had a couple of nice weekends, so finally (almost) finished up the landscape work around the square foot beds.

By last spring, that area was starting to look pretty sad, with grass dying (from being trampled when it got muddy) and weeds starting to get out of control.  Problem was, we had to hold off doing much about it, because we had foundation work scheduled for sometime in May, and a lot of landscaping on that side of the house was about to get all torn up.  Things got worse.  Much worse.

The foundation crew came during a week when it was raining and they worked in the rain and mud.  The carnage was unimaginable.  Still, I was eager to get started fixing things up just as soon as they were done.  But then in June it got really hot here, so I ended up postponing the project until the weather could cool down a bit.  July wasn't as bad, but it was summer, after all.  I couldn't really get much work in on it until September.

This is why I didn't post very many photos of my garden last year.  Too embarrassed by the horrible condition of the yard!  Embarassed   I guess I don't mind if you see it now, since it's now all fixed up again.

Early spring, before the foundation work:
Our 2017 garden makeover Backya10

Just after the foundation work.  Ugh.
Our 2017 garden makeover Backya11

New brick border going in early September:
Our 2017 garden makeover Backya12

Our 2017 garden makeover Backya13

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Meanwhile, in June out in the garden all heck is breaking loose...
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Put down some plastic to kill off everything growing around the beds.  There was bermuda grass, so this was an extended battle.  Clear plastic does work to kill bermuda grass.  We kept this covered for a few months, but haven't seen any signs of any new growth so far.
Our 2017 garden makeover Backya16

Finally - the finish!  Mr Nigel demonstrates how superbly he does his "wait there".
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There's still one more border to go in, that's what the spikes and guide line are you see in the foreground.  Haven't decided what to put there yet.
Our 2017 garden makeover Backya18
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Post  Scorpio Rising on 2/19/2017, 10:09 pm

I super pretty!  Wow!
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Post  trolleydriver on 2/19/2017, 11:19 pm

@Scorpio Rising wrote:I super pretty!  Wow!
Really nice CK.
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Post  donnainzone5 on 2/20/2017, 12:11 pm

Kate,

I love what you've accomplished!  How did you learn your skills?

I'm getting older and lack the strength and flexibility I once had--not to mention that I never learned masonry, carpentry, or other skills.  And then there's the knee and back pain to cope with.
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Post  countrynaturals on 2/20/2017, 12:45 pm

Great job, Kate. That was a LOT of work. Can't wait to see what it looks like in a few months, all greened up. Our 2017 garden makeover 3170584802
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Post  CapeCoddess on 2/20/2017, 2:59 pm

Well done! It must feel so good to have all that behind you. Very Happy
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Post  newbeone on 2/20/2017, 3:21 pm

Looks like You Have been very busy Looks Great!
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Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 2/20/2017, 7:26 pm

Thanks for taking the time to share photos and catch us up on your lovely progress!
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Post  sanderson on 2/21/2017, 4:47 am

Beautiful!! It was a lot of work, and took time, but it looks like it was worth it. Very Happy

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Post  CitizenKate on 2/21/2017, 9:48 pm

@donnainzone5 wrote:Kate,

I love what you've accomplished!  How did you learn your skills?

I'm getting older and lack the strength and flexibility I once had--not to mention that I never learned masonry, carpentry, or other skills.  And then there's the knee and back pain to cope with.

I could probably sum it up to Youtube and knee pads.

This is the first project I've ever done that involved bricks and concrete. I spent quite a few hours researching different methods and products for building brick landscape borders. I wanted the cheapest, easiest way to do it, and decided on this method:



I did some things a little differently than the video shows. He didn't do any digging or anything to clear the space of plants and debris. I didn't do any digging, either, but since I had smaller bricks, I was sure they wouldn't be level if I didn't at least pull out the weeds and condition the ground to be as flat as possible. I also turned the plastic no-dig border used to make a layout guide so the spikes were on the outside of the border. That way, I could remove it once the concrete set up. It was really pretty easy, and turned out so well, I'm probably going to add more of these borders around gardened areas in the front yard, too. And I think that entire border (brick, concrete, plastic border and spikes, which are re-usable) cost around $40 to build.

I've also experienced a pretty drastic loss of strength and flexibility in the last year. It's harder to do anything that involves kneeling down, or bending and lifting, and most of these projects involved a lot of that! Wearing knee pads makes anything involving kneeling MUCH easier. But I also finally decided last November to get myself back on a fitness regimen and get serious about rebuilding some muscle. I've reached a point where I have to, to be able to keep doing all the things I'm doing.
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Post  CitizenKate on 2/21/2017, 10:01 pm

@countrynaturals wrote:Can't wait to see what it looks like in a few months, all greened up. Our 2017 garden makeover 3170584802
Yeah, it's actually a bit drab with nothing growing in it at the moment, but right now I'm just celebrating how clean and tidy it is.  I've got broccoli, cabbage, and kale seeds in the soup this week, and lettuce soon to follow.  Won't be long before we'll start seeing lotsa green out there, and I'm looking forward to gardening being a lot less effort this year.

carrot
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Post  sanderson on 2/21/2017, 11:25 pm

Kate, The video really helps explain how you made those nice, neat borders. Got me to thinking . . . thinking

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Post  ralitaco on 2/21/2017, 11:35 pm

VERY NICE!!!!

I put in a double stack row of those blocks to make my DW's flower bed. I did not use concrete but they are not going anywhere...those rascals are heavy. I love you idea of using the border backwards so you can remove it...genius!
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Post  sanderson on 2/22/2017, 1:17 am

@ralitaco wrote:VERY NICE!!!!

I put in a double stack row of those blocks to make my DW's flower bed. I did not use concrete but they are not going anywhere...those rascals are heavy. I love you idea of using the border backwards so you can remove it...genius!
+1

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Post  donnainzone5 on 2/22/2017, 12:11 pm

Kate,

Thanks a million!  I almost think I could do it!

I do have one question, however:  Wouldn't any spilled concrete harden in the bed itself after a rain or watering?  It seems to me that plastic sheeting should be used for easy clean-up.
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Post  trolleydriver on 2/22/2017, 1:20 pm

Nice video.  Would work well on level ground.  Unfortunately in my area I doubt the border would last one Winter.  We have too much frost heave.  Fence posts, foundations, etc. have to go down 48 inches.  My interlock brick patio has at least 12 inches of crushed gravel which was heavily compacted by machine and it still moves up and down with the frost.  Part of my asphalt driveway is currently 4 inches higher than the floor of my garage but it go down in the spring.  Granted the driveway base was poorly prepared by the installer. Even though we have a good layer of top soil, once you get below that there is clay which holds water and expands when frozen. So I expect I would have to repair the border every Spring.  
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Post  CitizenKate on 2/22/2017, 11:16 pm

I'm sure you're right, TD. Good thing to be aware of and keep in mind if you live farther north. I'm curious to know, about what temperatures do you start to notice the heaving effect from the cold? We typically get below freezing almost every night during the winter, and occasionally (maybe 2 or 3 times a year) below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. So far, no issues, but the real test would take years.
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