About That Grass

Three weeks ago I hauled out my shovel and my grubs and got to work digging up the grass.  Not all the grass, but a small swath surrounding the curb garden and the Chinese Pistache. Baby steps.

The plan is to replace it with drought-tolerant ground cover or small paving stones.  Removing the grass is also better for the tree. Most trees need very little water once established. Ours is no exception.

This is my attempt to reduce the ‘footprint’ of the lawn in our parched corner of the world.  We re-landscaped our front yard about three years ago, in part to install a ramp.  My sister, who struggles with MS, could barely make it over the threshold of our home.  We removed the original lawn, put in a deck and the ramp, then rounded things out with shrubs…and more grass.  Although the square footage is less, I still find myself feeling a bit guilty offering a drink to a thirsty lawn during a drought.

Any way, back to the shovel and grubs. I worked for an hour and this is all I have to show for it.

removing lawn

Digging up some lawn

It was much harder than I thought it would be.  I don’t have the tools (nor the spine) to complete it.  I feel a bit defeated by it all, as this was my idea, and I really want to see it through. I’m having to face the challenges of aging joints, old injuries and the reality that I’m not in my twenties any more…or thirties…and so on.

Plan B is to hire some help.  I have three projects that need more strength then I can muster:

  • removing a thick, dead vine,
  • replacing what’s left of the lavender, and
  • getting rid of the swath of grass.

One of our beloved Hardenbergia died last year.  It used to cover the entire fence in the spring and summer with stunning purple blooms.  I pruned it back each year, and it returned bigger and brighter than ever…and then it didn’t.  I waited an entire year, because I hate giving up on plants.  Not the tiniest sign of life.  It needs to go.

lavender near deck

Lavender lines the deck

The lavender is dwindling, too, for reasons unknown.  We started with five plants lining the deck.  Four thrived, one struggled and finally died.  Last fall, a second one died and then the frost hit.  They’re all looking pretty sad.  I figured it was a good time to take them out and replace them with drought-tolerant Salvia (Mexican Bush Sage).  Saliva is also a beautiful purple, and it attracts hummingbirds and bees.  Once established, it doesn’t need any water!  You can’t beat that.

Those are my big projects for the season, and I can’t do any of them myself. I’m struggling with that, but at the same time need to face this reality and get on with it. My sister helps me keep it all in perspective.

Aging is not for the faint of heart.

Planting the Strip: Three Cheers for More Dirt!

Mighty Mouse offers up his own opinion

Mighty Mouse offers up his own opinion

In early January, I polled my readers on the pros and cons of re-planting the sidewalk strip. I wanted something other than lawn. The vote was split down the middle.

We’ve lived in this house for 17 years, adding trees, flowers, shrubs and vegetables, but that boring strip of grass never changed. I thought of planting summer vegetables in the strip or  veggies and a few flowers.

It’s not that people disliked the idea. The no votes worried about doggie deposits or thieves in the night. Others feared vandalism (they’d seen it before) or easy access for neighborhood cats.

The yes votes suggested flowers instead of vegetables (less tempting to passersby) and one reader suggested a raised bed. Head slap!  What a great idea.

My husband was happy with the status quo. I was ready for a change (and more garden). Once he knew what it meant to me, he agreed to the idea *and* built the planting bed.  It’s 16 x 4 x 1 feet or (5 x 1 x .3 meters)

grassy sidewalk strip

The sidewalk strip, planted with sod

Planting bed 4 x 16

Planting bed, newly delivered potting soil

What fun I’m having with all that extra space! I can’t wait till things start filling in. Plants include:

  • Status (transplanted from the back yard)
  • Nasturtium (started from seed in my kitchen window)
  • Cosmo (another transplant); and
  • Nursery finds including Candy Tuft ‘Masterpiece,’ Chocolate Mint, Heliotrope Blue, Lemon Thyme, Snapdragons and Verbena.
planting bed

Newly planted, irrigation installed

Yellow snapdragons

Yellow Snapdragons

Candytuft 'Masterpiece'

Candytuft ‘Masterpiece’


Feline Neighbor

Another reader comment suggested removing some of the lawn on the property side of our lot.  I did that as well, planting sunflowers, Alyssum and Forget-me-nots.  I covered all of it with a pop-up tent to keep the squirrels and snails at bay.  Nothing grew!  Finally I removed the cover and planted bedding plants instead.

Low and behold, the seeds are now sprouting and everything is filling in nicely. Apparently they weren’t staying moist enough to germinate.  Lesson learned.

Planting the corner

Planting the corner

So far, so good on the planting strip.  My neighbors are giving it a thumbs up and other than the character in the photo, above, no untoward behavior other than cat-napping between the plants.