Saturday, May 5, 2012

Our Landscaping Adventure

So about a month again, Ivan and I embarked upon a “landscaping adventure”. In Houston, we don’t get too many “spring” days before it gets hot and just gross. We decided to utilize the time to replace some of the flowers in the front flower beds. Little did we know that this would turn into a complete overhaul. For the last two years, I have been whining about the flower beds out front. I hate the fact that the builder put in like 4 different types of hedge bushes. I mean who does that!! Anyway, I have really been wanting to rip them out. So when we went looking for some pretty annuals, we also went looking for some flowering bushes. I really love how azaleas look and how they grow. We went to home depot and picked up a few azalea bushes to go right in front of the house. The flower pink and are just beautiful! However, we had a bit of a problem. The azalea bushes were somewhat small (3 gallons) so if we placed them behind the larger bushes that had been there for 2 years, you wouldn’t see them! Therefore, we had to rip those out too (I didn’t like them anyway). Then we replaced those pushes with some gardenia/azalea hybrids that have white flowers. They are sooo pretty. Here is a before picture of our yard (the flowers in the pic were annuals from last year so they are dead now):

So lets “dig” into some of the details now.  When we were deciding to do this we ran into a bit of a spacing issue. We wanted the 5 azalea bushes to be in front of the window spaced evenly. The problem was that there was an area behind our magnolia tree that needed “something”. We also wanted to balance out the Japanese boxwoods that we had on the right side of the garden (not seen in the picture). We decided the best idea was to transplant two of the Japanese boxwoods that were in this smaller flower bed near the drive way to the space in front of the window. That process when fairly smoothly.  The biggest problem we ran into.. and let me stress “big” was planting the azaleas. We started digging the holes for the azaleas and creating a trench behind them near the house to allow for drainage etc.  When we got to the middle of the wall, we started hitting rocks (or so we thought!).  Some of the rocks game up pretty quickly. Others, were a bit more stubborn. It was then that we realized… this wasn’t a rock.. it was a SLAB or concrete under out flower bed. To give you an idea, it was around 4 feet long and 2 feet wide. It looks as if the original contractors had just used our flower bed as a dumping ground for their extra concrete (and hammers, and extra saw blades, and plastic spoons, etc).  This was when Ivan and I had to stop our planting and call in a warranty request. It took about a WEEK for the builder to get someone out to our house to jack hammer the concrete up. So our poor plants just stayed in their buckets… waiting. Check it out:

Once they finally got the concrete up, they had to fill the extra space (that the concrete was filling) with dirt from one of the other lots under construction. We then went and bought a few bags of garden soil to build it up a bit more.

After this fiasco, it was finally time to plant. We planted all the azaleas, and the gardenia/azaleas. The garden was really starting to look nice at this point! After they were planted, we decided to test the sprinklers… and then it happened.. mud.. bubbling from underneath. Sure enough the sprinkler system had got hit in all of the digging. Luckily, it wasn’t a pipe that was broken. The rip was in the silicone hose that wrapped around the tree. These are easy to fix with a 50cent  coupler that can be purchased at home depot. It worked out perfectly. We fixed the hose, and then reburied it and all worked well.

The only thing we had remaining was to rip out the three remaining bushes that were sitting in the smaller flower bed (the flower bed that we took the two Japanese boxwoods from).  Ivan and his shovel went to work on those. After we dug all the bushes out of that area (two Japanese boxwoods that we transplanted +3 other bushes that we tossed), we planted some pretty yellow lilly-like perennial flowers in the area. The pop of yellow is really beautiful… I wish they would flower year round! Eventually we will plant those yellow flowers around the base of the pear tree, but we had already mulched this year and decided it could wait.

So what do you think? Here is a summary of everything we did:
1) Take out all those hedges and replant with flowering bushes in the large flower bed
2) Plant some pretty annual flowers  in the large flower bed 
3) Put some pretty perrenial flowers in the small flower bed 
4) Transplant two of the Japanese boxwoods from the small flower bed to the large flower bed
5) (Unplanned item) Get builder to dig out concrete slab buried underneath large flower bed
6) (Unplanned item) Fix broken sprinkler hose 
7) Remulch large and small flower beds
8) Survive the spiders (ok maybe this was just a personal to-do item)!

Here is what we still have to do:
1) Get some matching stones to put around the perimeter of the beds (the builder put in some but it would nice to have the stone also going around the trees too)
2) Get a big boulder to help the area to the left of the magnolia tree which is suffering from water erosion
3) Line the trench behind the azaleas with some river stones to help with water and bugs.
4) Get iron remover to get the fertilizer stains off of the sidewalks 
5) Get some outdoor lighting to light up the plants and trees (it would be nice to find some solar ones that actually WORK!)
6) Get some lanterns put on the outside of the house….not sure how to do the wiring on this one yet, but I figure I will hire an electrician. 

On to the next project for now!