Posts Tagged 'eco-friendly'

Manscaping, Phase 2 : A Guest Post from Aaron

Friends, I’ve been ready to wrap up this landscaping project since about four minutes after I began it. And lo, the time is nigh! We are just a few finishing touches from completion (for now, of course, since…you know…plants die and stuff), so I badgered Aaron to write his Manscaping follow up and guess what? He only complained a little bit. What a sweetheart.

If you missed the first installment, check it out here. If you’ve been dying to read how it ended, I’ll let Aaron take it from here.

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When we left off, we had all of our blocks in place and then we brought in extra dirt to level things out.  Things were starting to take shape and the thought of the finished product’s lush splendor had given me my second wind.  Now I could move on to adding mulch and transplanting the four dwarf hollies and the rosebush. Because we could only work on this project on the weekends, transplanting was tricky – especially for the rose.  As you can see, I left it in place while I started mulching so that I could plant it as soon as I had removed it.

If you have ever done any gardening you are probably familiar with that terrible black “weed-stop” fabric that is often used. If you have ever had to remove a flower bed or just do a little renovation, this same fabric has probably been on the receiving end of an impressive string of four letter words. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, suffice it to say that after a nuclear attack, the only thing that will exist besides cockroaches and Twinkies is this fabric. Ironically, to be so durable it doesn’t stop weeds all that well. Go figure. Because I hate this fabric so much, I was excited to learn that a considerable number of people avoid it by using newspaper instead. I put the newspaper over the dirt 3-4 pages thick and then covered it with mulch. The newspaper will prevent any grass and weed seeds from germinating, but unlike fabric, it will decompose after about 18 months. By that time, any grass and weed seeds that were present in the soil on planting will be dead.  It’s green, it’s cheaper than fabric, and when you decide to remove or redesign the bed later on, you will not have the headache you would with fabric.

And so it went.  Lay down newspaper…drop on a bit of mulch to keep it from blowing away… newspaper… mulch… newspaper… mulch. Mulch is actually the best means of preventing grass and unwanted weeds from germinating in the bed. In order to get the most protection, we applied the mulch 3-4 inches thick throughout the bed.

Here is the old arrangement with the four holly bushes cornering the rose bush.

The holly bushes found a new home on the opposite end of the bed surrounding our new Jane Magnolia, commonly known as a “Tulip Tree.”  In the spring the tree’s blooms resemble purple and white tulips.  To round things out we had to purchase a fifth dwarf holly.

The rose bush was moved to the center of the bed and is flanked by two new pink knock-out roses. Between the roses you can barely see a couple of Indian Hawthorn. These are evergreen shrubs that have small pink blooms in the spring.

To line the outside of the bed we chose Trailing Verbena. Our bed gets full sun almost all day long. This limited the choice of annual we could use. This variety of verbena will spread and eventually spill over the edge of the bed while blooming through the summer.

Finally, the bed was finished!  Admittedly, it looks a little sparse, but after all that time and effort, we were proud.

The finishing touch were the two planters we decided to use to frame the front steps. The planter in the foreground will eventually be placed in the area currently occupied by our immortal violas. We planted them last fall and they lived through the mild winter. We’ve been expecting them do die for the last month, but they just keep hanging on. Most likely, to get both containers at equal height, we will need to build up that little square three stones high and fill it with dirt and mulch.

Here’s a rough ariel drawing/example of Rosemary’s artistry. This fall, we plan to finish things off by planting some bulbs in transition areas on either side of the roses and in the “island” in front of the steps.  We are going to plant bulbs that bloom in both spring and summer (possibly fall or winter too!). This should give us some color throughout the year. And that, my friends, is manscaping.

{Aaron is my boyfriend. He owns this house I’m constantly tearing apart. And sometimes he’ll write blog posts about things I do not enoy or understand, and therefore, am not qualified to blog about. Read his other guest posts here and here.}

**TWO YEAR UPDATE**

It’s been two years and the newspaper has completely biodegraded. We’ve had little-to-no weed pulling thanks to our newspaper trick! We will probably replace the newspaper next year, but for now, the few weeds that we have tend to pop up right at the base of the plants, where I originally had to dig a hole through the newspaper. 

We never had a problem with squirrels or birds digging up the newspaper and shredding it everywhere. The newspaper’s gone now, but even at the beginning, that wasn’t a problem, even though we do have birds that dig little holes all over the bed to find grubworms. If it was a problem for you, I might suggest putting a thicker layer of mulch down next time.

Lots of commenters have asked if this would work in a vegetable garden, and though I have personally never tried it, a nice commenter informed me that it does, indeed, work great in vegetable gardens!

And finally, I feel like I need to mention that I am NOT a gardening expert. This project was the first time I’ve ever built or even fully landscaped a flower bed. I’m happy to answer your questions if I have an answer, but please know that I’m probably not the best person to ask for gardening advice! 🙂 

Best of luck and thanks for reading!

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