One of the few things I like about owning my own house is being able to work in the yard. I'd much rather get my hands dirty in the dirt than worry about things inside. Each spring, I eagerly anticipate sowing seeds, planting flowers and trying new things. This year, I really didn't have to do too much, a lot of what I have comes back each year but I always like to liven things up with sone new plants, bright flowers and a vegetable or two. Most of what I do, I do in the front yard. The dogs like to play and with respect to them, I've pretty much given up on the backyard though parts look pretty good. As for my front, well, it's not what you would typically see in the typical urban front yard.
When standing on my front porch looking out towards the street, the first thing you come to are a bunch of flower pots filled with all kinds of pretty stuff. In a few weeks, they should really start to come alive and burst with color and foilage. To the left is a small wildflower garden mixed in with some shrubs and grasses. It's still a bit early for the wildflowers to be in bloom but they are popping up and starting to grow rather vigourously. In front of the sidewalk is the first of my rain gardens. I've built an area that is filled with flowers, grasses, small trees and other plants. This garden keeps any rain water from draining off the yard and into the driveway or sidewalk. Water that accumulates on the driveway gets drawn into the garden and percolates into the soil. This rain garden stretches the length of the front sidewalk, down the driveway and along the first part of the main sidewalk.
In the center of my yard is a small garden of low lying shrubs, flowers and a Crepe Myrtel which blooms every summer. I planted it two years ago and it's grown about two feet since then. To the right is my main area of work. I have a lot of ground cover near the shrubs under my windows, some small trees (Japanese Maple and Alberta Spruce) accented by carefully chosen flowers, Mixed in is a row of Kentucky Bibb Lettuce (almost ready to pick), baby spinach and broccoli. Behind that is a collection of spring bulbs, Creeping Flox and other cool bushes and shrubs. In front of that is a large wildflower garden with Black Eyed Susans mixed in.
Moving further to the right is my main rain garden. I placed a long extension on the drain spout, covered it with groundcover and I dug out an area about 3 feet wide by 10 feet long. I filled it in with rich compost, manure and dark top soil and filled the area with native plants that can handle very wet conditions or extremely dry conditions. I'm getting a lot of flowers on the plants and the grasses are getting waist high. By figuring out the size of my roof and the annual rainfall we get, I estimate that I'm keeping over 75,000 gallons of rainwater from entering the street or sewars. What the plants don't drink gets percolated down into the ground and eventually into the aquifer below.
To the side of my house, I have a very narrow strip of ground that gets no sunshine at all. I've planted a mix of ferns, ground cover and other shade loving plants. It's almost completely filled in and doing great. Getting things to grow where the sun never shines isn't always easy but so far so good. The Hosta's seem to love the shade and dampness and each year they grow bigger and bigger.
My next project will be to work in the area around the very front of the yard. I have a Bradford Pear which flowers each spring but the area is slopped and a drainage ditch collects water from my street and feeds it into ever larger ditches eventually reaching the sewers. I'm going to try and dig up all the grass, level the ground out a bit and plant a comibnation of ferns, tall grasses and other ground cover in an attempt to minimize any water from my yard getting put into the sewars. I don't know if I'll get to that this summer but whenever I do, it will probably be a rather difficult project. All of which sounds quite fun to me.