Remodeling and Home Design

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    Billy Goodnick

    I like what you did in the front bed, not just because you lost the lawn, but because of the sense of balance and proportion you've achieved. Many such attempts get too busy, and although you have a lot of elements, they work well together. My only adjustment would be to move the larger variegate grass (Miscanthus?) closer to the yellow-green lower grasses. They're similar in color but different in form - two of a kind, so to speak. So rather than strand the Miscanthus, let it play with the other. I really like the mounding gray near the walkway. Good punctuation.

    As for the Brazilian pepper, I recommend a controlled napalm drop. The plant is a blight. Thanks!

    Billy Goodnick

    BTW: Found your blog via your comment at GardenRant - that book cover design sucks rotten dinosaur eggs.


    Well, Billy isn't shy about his opinions, is he? In case he checks back - you're also pretty entertaining, Billy, which I think is your objective :-)
    I loved the tour of your yard, Susan. Exposing our successes and 'projects-in-waiting' (failures fall into this category) are a fun part of blogging.
    As you already know, my yard is one huge project-in-waiting. I feel better about my haphazard planting beds in the backyard since giving the area an official name: Plant Evaluation and Propagation Area (PEPA). I hope buying one of this and one of that now will help me make wise decisions later when I want a bunch of this and a bunch of that to create large, coordinated swathes of color in the beds we'll eventually cut from the lawn.
    And if all our projects were done already, what would we do with ourselves?

    Renate (Town Mouse)

    Ha, talk about publicly revealing the state of your garden. Last year I had 285 people come for the going native garden tour ( I expect more this year. But I digress.

    I find my best decisions have also been the most questionable. We filled the pool shortly after we bought the house (great idea!) but now find it's possible to convert your pool into a cistern (wish we hadn't filled it, sort of). I sowed California poppies the first year (great idea! so cheerful, no water) but they reseed like crazy (I pull a lot). I made a pretty oak barrel water feature (great idea!) but now I'm getting raccoons (don't get me started)...


    When I first read that Catherine Aird quote, many years ago, I was going to frame it. Instead, I live it.

    Here's a horrible warning, from a long list: Don't buy and plant a whole lot of full sun plants within three feet of the edge of the shade from a redbud. I thought the redbud was done growing. Now I have 1) a bigger redbud, 2) a shade garden, and 3) many dead, full sun plants.


    What is it with husbands and lawns? Yay to your front yard reduction. I have zero experience with Carex pansa, but based on what I've seen the sedges in your space should be gorgeous before too long. You've got me wondering big time with your purple paint comment...

    I also like how dealing with a tree trunk you didn't want to have ground up led you to a cool solution. We had a tree taken out 10 years ago but didn't want to pay double to get the stump ground out. So the tree guy cut it off at about two feet and notched a little planter in its center. It's turned out to be the greatest place to plant bromeliads. Sometimes living with a compromise pushes you to even better solutions.


    LOL, the drip system in my "garden" is an example of how not to lay one out. Drip emitters dripping onto the crowns of plants, lines buried so deep that you can't find one until you pierce it with a shovel, main lines laid directly under plants. . .

    I inherited this mess from a previous gardener and I curse them every time I work on it.

    And, as for the plantings, I'm still in rip out that mess mode.

    Susan (garden chick)

    My goodness, Billy, you don't hold back. The miscanthus is actually a Cream Delight Phormium and at the rate the Japanese Forest Grass is spreading, they will soon be next to each other with no additional help from me.

    VW, love the PEPA idea; very official. Does one require a special pass to access this, or is it open to all visitors?

    Townie, we're so hard on our own gardens. When I visit someone's garden, they never start directing my attention to the 90% of it that is lovely, but immediately point out the two or three things that aren't working out.

    DP, But dead plants add such lovely brown contrast to the garden! (At least that's what I tell clients when, ahem, some of my plant choices don't make the grade)

    James, and the hilarious part about the lawn is, it's so small that you basically just set the mower on it, turn it on, and the whole thing is mowed. Very creative idea on the tree stump - I'd love to see a photo on your blog.

    Michelle, I've decided not to count the drip system, because as you inherited it, it was someone else's horrible warning. You will have to return and confess to a personal sin!


    I think there should be a regular posting on the GE/HW
    theme. I don't like to get unbalanced opinions that just focus on the HW side of things, but then at the same time, an overload of GE's makes me feel inadequate and surly. This post was just right, and real.

    As I watered my flawed and beloved garden this morning (yeah, my HW is the fact that I was smart enough to *lay* the techline irrigation tubing, but too lazy to actually hook it up to a valve, and then got too excited about planting, and now I can't ever hook things up because there are too many plants!), I thought about what it would be like if I had to photograph everything for a magazine with an hour's notice.

    The result would be a real photo of a real garden with all of its triumphs and tragedies. Gardens, like people, need to be loved for themselves, just as they are. Otherwise we deny the truth and humanity in ourselves, and the savage and uncooperative gorgeousness of nature. So I say bring it all on, the GE's and HW's, and embrace the imperfection.

    Thanks for a great post, Susan!


    Helpful post.
    I'm not the best at garden design.
    Not sure why...

    Susan (garden chick)

    Plantanista, wonderful comment - thoughtful and well expressed. But if I ever do have a brief, shining moment with a garden full of good examples and nary a horrible warning in sight, get ready for the braggiest post you've ever read!

    Patsi, glad you enjoyed the post!

    Mary Ellen

    Hi Susan! I love this post -- I'm so glad the Aird quote inspired such a great(and entertaining!) tour of your garden -- thanks for sharing this!!


    Great post. My partner says he loves the lawn (and has promised to be the one to mow it, but rarely does). I am taking the turf off, sort of inch by inch, and Mr is sulking everytime he finds out. Perhaps I should shade it, in secret, and just make it disappear by itself...

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    What would be a good groundcover to use as a lawn substitute? I'd like to use it in my front lawn so I don't have to mow it. I'd like something that grows no more than and inch or two high and is evergreen in Zone 7. It'll get full sun all day, too.

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