Sunday, July 14, 2019

Another River Running Through My Yard

We all know that gardens are always in flux. Some plants survive, some thrive to the point of taking over and sometimes you just want to change things up. Last year we looked at our front yard and decided that buying sod every year was expensive and labor intensive to install on a regular basis. What's a gardener to do? (we all know---you make a new garden bed!) The wet winters and dogs running over wet grass made the lawn thin and excessively needy.

I had big plans, make a giant mulch bed in the front yard. I haven't measured the size of the area we were looking at making a new garden....let's just say it is a large area. Maybe I will go and measure it one of these days. 

We left a mower sized width of grass along the driveway and between the gardens. In the center of this new, massive garden is a Little Gem Magnolia with daylilies around it. Once the plan was hatched, mulch was needed. Lots of mulch. We had ten yards of mulch delivered.

Because we had some grass and a lot of weeds the plan was put cardboard or newspaper under the mulch as a weed block. Before you jump all over me, I have since read information from the Garden Professors about not using anything under mulch. Their recommendation is to just have a good layer of mulch (inches deep) and it will smother/block the weeds. Good information, just after the fact. 

Moving forward we used tons of cardboard, mountains of newspaper and still ran out. We had help with the mulch from our kids who came to visit last July. With their help the mountain of mulch was spread. Hallelujah!

Liebling was a great help
 Fast forward to this year. I planted three Japanese maples last fall-one Red Dragon, a Butterfly, and Green Viridis. Also added three Hydrangea quercifolia 'Little Honey' and a Cryptomeria globosa 'Nana'. Found a few abelia in the garden that needed moved- think they might be Abelia grandiflora 'Rose Creek'- so what better place to move them than this huge new space?

I brought a birdbath home from my Mom's house. In front of the birdbath I planted some Agastache 'Blue Boa', Coreopsis 'Mercury Rising', Stokesia laevis (Stokes Aster) and other plants for pollinators. The maples were doing well, the flowers were thriving but there was a problem with the garden...........WASHOUT. Some Liriope and an Amaryllis were added to try and slow the water flow. They didn't. 

With every rain we had a trail of mulch running downhill through the grass. Not happy. I had scooped/raked up mulch multiple times. Something needed to be done. You see some rocks in the photo above. I didn't grab a before photo but the mulch was still in the grass so it is a good example. The rocks that I have had leftover from other projects are all in the lower part of the yard. Our property is on a good slope. Moving enough rocks was going to be a lot of work just hauling them up the last part of the hill.
My great plan was that my lovely assistant (daughter Rachel) and I would load up the rocks into the cart that attaches to the lawn tractor. My husband just needed to drive the tractor to the bottom of the yard, wait for us to fill the cart, then drive the tractor back up to the front yard. 

Me mud splattered
Rachel muddy from rock hauling
 Well, the yard was wet, the lower the yard, the wetter the yard. We pushed and pushed the tractor to get it moving and got sprayed with lots and lots of mud. Yay. Plan B was to take the tractor through the woods in our wooded lot where we had a path cut. Well, that only worked part way. We got my garden wagon and the wheelbarrow and moved three or four loads each out of the cart until the lawn tractor could make it up the rest of the way. Spreading the rocks went pretty well. Making the new dry creek bed curve gently through the garden, following the washout area, was not as hard as bringing the rocks uphill!

View from the top of the hill
We are due to get more rain sometime in the next few days. Cross your fingers!  I want the "river" to be slowed and the water diverted as to not move the mulch. 

View from the bottom of the hill
 Speaking of mulch, that's the next project...more mulch. We are battling nut sedge and Bermuda grass popping up in the garden, especially where the mulch had gotten washed out or thinned. Weed control is an ongoing challenge.

©Copyright 2019 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.


  1. That is a lot of hard work and I hope it stops the mulch erosion.

    1. Thanks Gail, it seems to have slowed it down a good bit. Might need to bring up a few more of the potato sized rocks but that's all.

  2. Oooo, that's going to be nice! We're figuring on doing something soon with an erosion problem, too. More heavy rains these days. It will be fun to follow your progress!

    1. Beth, I will post more photos in the fall when I put the mulch down. So far it has done well.

  3. Looks good! Hope your back and shoulders weren't too sore after all that! Hope the dry stone bed does the trick. Enjoyed this post. Btw, I agree about not needing newspaper - it just makes a mess.

    1. Jason, I wasn't too sore, just the usual aches and pains. The newspaper under mulch near our water area was all dug up by a raccoon (I think) and boy was that a mess.

  4. Looks great and definitely a lot better than the lawn - fingers crossed it works as well as your rocky solution in the back garden! I'm assuming that the whole cardboard/newspaper thing is due to the environmental impact? Well, in my first year as a "new" gardener, I did apply a thick layer of mulch in our garden beds without adding anything underneath...and the weeds and encroaching grass grew right through it. It was an "ugh!" moment and I have used cardboard/newspaper ever since with much better success. I figure that the newspaper/cardboard is already "there" - it's not like I'm buying it for this specific purpose - so I'm recycling it. It decomposes into the soil and does not end up at in the land fill as apparently a lot items in the "recycling" bins do. Unless I'm missing something else altogether...

    1. I agree Margaret, it is much nicer! As for the newspaper...I think it is because is sours the soil while it blocks the weeds. I don't know. I like that it keeps the weeds down.


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