Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Plastic Rocks

My yard is pretty awful by most people's standards.  Most of it is shady and what grass there is grows in scrubby little patches.  That's okay with me.  My long-term goal for the yard is for there to be no yard.  I want to have the whole thing planted up in flowers, a little vegetable garden (or maybe a big one), bushes, ground cover, whatever it takes to not have frustrating conversations with people I hire to mow my yard.

Like this:

Me:  Could you raise the blade on the mower a bit higher so it doesn't cut off the clover blooms?
Yard Guy:  Are you serious?
Me:  Yes, I am.  The bees like clover.

He gave me this look like I was insane and then he never came back again.

So I hired somebody else, and they did better, except...sigh...except for one or two things which I called the owner of the company about.

Me:  Hey, you guys are doing a great job on my little yard overall, but last time someone ran over my daylilies and one of my Autumn Joy sedums.
Him: Well, you don't have any edging around your flowerbeds...
Me:  I know.  And I know that daylilies kinda look like grass, but since they were in the hellstrip I don't see how they got mowed down, and since those sedums have thick pale green leaves and the one y'all ran over was about the size of a basketball and now it's three inches high--
Him:  Well, unfortunately, unless you put something around your flowerbeds that's gonna keep happening.

After I kinda calmed down and stopped kicking things, I could see where maybe he has a point.

So I bought me some of those plastic rocks and edged the flowerbeds on either side of my front walkway.

I even got ambitious with a hoe and tore out all the grass and weeds from the right side of the walkway.  (I have to do the left side tomorrow.)  On the left there, in the foreground, barely visible, is the poor little mowed-down sedum.  It was actually larger, pre-mowing, than the one on the right.  There's not much in these flowerbeds now:  daylilies, Autumn Joy sedum, a lamb's-ear, and some lilies of the valley.

This is what it looks like from across the street at Mr. Carl's house.

I need to work on that bed on the right to make the plastic rocks have a nicer curve to them and get that grass out of there so I can hammer the edging into the ground better.  Out in the hellstrip by the street I planted Stella D'Oro daylilies (which got mowed down) and John Creech sedum (stonecrop) because they're really tough. Up by the house I have more daylilies, epimedium, Japanese lilies (which were Esther's), a couple of hostas, and coral bells.

Plastic rocks would not be my first choice for edging my flowerbeds.  In this case I needed something quick, easy, and cheap that I could stick in the ground before the yard man came again.  I'm planning to expand these flowerbeds over the years until they take up pretty much the whole yard, so the plastic rocks are good for that because I can just yank 'em up, move 'em wherever I want, and hammer 'em back into the ground.


  1. How hard is it for lawn guys to cut grass high and not mow down plants? Apparently impossible :-) in my experience.

    I'll see you a sedum and raise you a beginning lilac bush, which somehow managed to survive after being taken out by a riding mower.

    1. Karen Anne, I think it's impossible, too. Grr. Now how did they not see a lilac bush?? I think they just don't care, and it's all about finishing the mowing as quickly as possible without being concerned what the end result looks like.

  2. Oh this happens all, all the time to me.. I love the way your edging looks.. spectacular...........

  3. when your plants branch out due to the fact that they are not getting mowed down, they will cover more of your sidewalk... before they get too big, you may want to move the strip over a little and give them more space... but that would be just the vice of experience speaking (it is not so much fun losing your sidewalk to plants, then battling mosquitoes all the time because the overgrowth gives them breeding grounds when you try to actually use the sidewalk as a sidewalk. Plus, the plants tend to die when moved if you have bad conditions. But by then, you will be so sick of the said plants that the death is an okay thing!) When I retire, it is to a condo or apartment where anyone else besides me is responsible for anything green stuff that is supposed to grow and be esthetically pleasing to others.

    1. Yeah, I didn't think about that when I planted some of them. They're a little close to the sidewalk in a couple places. That really big Autumn Joy will be divided when it comes up again in the spring.

  4. It's not just hired lawn guys who run over things. I have a husband for that.

    While we're all making suggestions, here's another one for you. I agree that you should widen your planting area here. Even with a smallish house on a city lot, bigger is usually better. You have the beginnings of a great circle. I see that each bed starts along the front of your house and arcs down the sidewalk. Instead of angling the far ends of the beds in toward the steps, arc them out and make it grand. Dig out the grass, cover the bare ground with layers of newspaper, and then add mulch. You will be astonished at how much this improves the front of your house.

    1. I was looking at it again today when I took a break from scraping paint, and I agree that the beds along the sidewalk need to be a lot wider. Like, about twice as wide as they are now. Do you mean expand the beds at the steps so that they run along the sidewalk? That would look really good, and the newspapers and mulch would make a good start this fall/winter towards having plantable (is that a word??) dirt next spring. Maybe I could put a bunch of bulbs in there this fall....hmmmmm...... :)

    2. I just saw this ... why, I don't know, because I never check back for in-line comment replies, nor do I subscribe to replies. I guess it was meant to be, ha ha.

      Anyway, bigger is almost always better when it comes to the depth of planting beds. It looks so much nicer to have plants in generous beds, instead of lined up in a tiny strip along the walk. Twice as wide, or three times, would be really good.

      As for the termination of the bed at the sidewalk, don't go straight down parallel to the walk. Flare the bed out in an arc, so it's wider at the bottom than it is down its length along the walk.

      You can use this new-found area to showcase a whole collection of seasonal perennials. Bulbs for spring, spring and summer flowering plants, fall bloomers like your sedum, etc. Be sure to choose something that persists through winter for the backbone of your design, so the bed isn't an empty wasteland while the perennials are dormant. If you don't want small shrubs, how about Hellebores since your walk looks fairly shady? Are they hardy where you are?