The time has come. This garden renovation needs to happen. I can no longer stand to look at my “catch all” bed any longer. I’ve been patient, I’ve been frugal, and I am tired of looking at this any more. The nice thing about writing this blog is that I can take any garden project and say that I am doing it for blog content. Perfect!
For a long time I have been admiring a yard in our neighborhood that is absolutely beautiful. It is well composed, there are unique and interesting plants, and at the same time it has a very peaceful and meditative feeling to it. Every Sunday Capone and I go for a walk and I almost always go by this house just to see their landscape. As I’ve been reading a lot of garden design books lately and trying to figure out what my favorite style is I have had this landscape in my mind. I finally nailed down that what I think I appreciate about it is the simplicity that keeps it from being overwhelming but it is also designed in a way to be low maintenance with a minimal amount of turf. So with this in mind I turned my attention to this forlorn section of our yard.
On the left you can see the before photo for this garden renovation project. I was actually shocked when I started pulling things out by how much was in here: a croton, 3 gazanias, 5 elephant ear alocasias, some purple heart tradescantia, a pathetic mandevilla, and a couple of plants that my friend Alice gave me that had taken over everything. I thought that I was saving these plants but it turns out I just made a mess of things here.
With my “garden crush” in mind, I decided that this area needed to be planted in just one plant. Ugh! How am I supposed to pick just a single plant?!? Reminding myself that I can change it next year if I want (it’s for the blog, right?), I decided to go with ‘Breeze’ Lomandra. Lomandra is a grass-like plant, although technically it is not a grass. It is evergreen and does not need to be cut back each year. It is native to Australia so you know that it is a tough plant. It has a very fine foliage, but it is also soft to the touch unlike some more serrated grasses. More nurseries are growing this plant and it is being marketed in the Tuffy Plants collection as extremely drought tolerant and low maintenance. I am glad to see Lomandra ‘Breeze’ are becoming much more common and I even spotted these at Lowes last week.
So, back to our project.
Step 1: Pull out the old plants. This took about ten minutes and the most time was spent pulling out all of the tradescantia that had rooted along the lattice behind the bed. It is worth spending some extra time to get these out now as opposed to fighting them throughout the summer. There are some caladium bulbs in is area too but I didn’t make much of an effort to dig all of those out. It is very likely that those caladiums will start to come up in the next few weeks and I haven’t yet decided if I will leave them or pull them out. You can tell by the nice dark soil here that this area has had lots of amendments over the four years we’ve lived here. I did use a spade to till it 12″ or so and get a nice, soft soil bed.
Step 2: I’d purchased 6 of the ‘Breeze’ Lomandra so I placed those out to the spacing I liked and started planting. It is important to note that Lomandra can NOT be planted deeply. If the plant gets buried too deeply it will rot away and not thrive like it would otherwise. Keep in mind that this Australian native needs good drainage and is not used to sitting in wet soil. I emphasized this by actually setting them up a little bit from the soil line so that as the soil settles they will be just slightly above grade.
Step 3: To give the area a finished touch I used copper pipe to create an edging material. I can’t believe what a difference this made! With our very cute, but not very bright dog in mind here, this edging looks great and serves the dual purpose of keeping Capone out of here. Stay tuned for more information on making these.
I know that these plants will get larger and fill in the space quite well. I was pretty proud of myself in this hour long project and I think that it will only improve in the coming months. I don’t expect to do a garden renovation in a single day, but piece by piece we can start to pull this together into a much more cohesive design.