Tuesday, March 1, 2011

spring is in the air

Today is March 1, which means that we are officially in the month when Spring begins.  Which means we are officially in the month I start working on the garden.  Last year, I had a lot of good intentions, but struggled to actually do much more than mow the lawn and throw in some wood chips and random flowering plants I picked up while at Home Depot for other projects.  This year, not so. 

The first step toward having a lovely garden is to plan it, not just buy random flowering plants at Home Depot and throw them in (although in my view, that is better than nothing).  I've lived at my house through 1 1/2 summers (i.e., one summer full time, one summer half-time) so I have learned a few things about the yard.  That helps.  However, there is still a lot I don't know.  We didn't do the existing landscaping, so there are several plants that I have no idea what they are (either because I can't remember at the moment or because I have never seen them before).  But I like them.  That is why they are referred to below as "nice plants" or just "bushes."  I'm not that experinced of a gardener, actually.  Anyhow, here is what our yard currently looks like, to me:

My dad would kill me if he saw this freehand, not-to-scale map drawn on typing paper.  But it will serve my purposes for now!  And anyway, it's kind of accurate.  This is what our house and yard look like to google maps (although upside-down compared to my map):

A few fun things about my trusty map. 
  1. There are diseased decorative trees in the front, and a couple of smaller guys in the back that seem to have the same disease.  They are all the same type of plant, but I have no idea what it is.  It seems pretty common in Westchester, NY but I haven't seen it in Michigan, so I'm unfamiliar with it.  The leaves have turned brown and curled in on themselves.  I think it's possible these trees have bacterial leaf scorch, but need to do some more investigating.  Cutting down/helping/replacing these trees is high on the priority list, because I don't want the disease to spread to other plants.
  2. There can be no infringing on The Ball Field.  I learned this when I tried to put the compost bin behind that Japanese Maple in the back yard.  Kathy informed me it would be in the middle of The Ball Field.  "The ball field?" I stupidly inquired, "What do you mean, the ball field?  We don't have a ball field."  Oh, yes, we do.  And Kathy hacked out a bush in under 10 minutes to make room for the compost bin in order to prevent me from placing it anywhere near The Ball Field.  Now the compost bin lives conveniently next to the deck, behind the grill.  That means that, even in the winter, I can trot out and dump the kitchen scraps over the railing of the deck directly into the bin without having to traipse across the yard in inclimate weather.  Thanks to Kathy and The Ball Field.
  3. There is a trellis on the back patio.  We don't use the patio much, since the only door opens to the mudroom, but ever since I saw that sunny trellis, I wanted to cover it in low-maintenance, fast-growing climber flowers, like maybe morning glories.  This year will be the year.
  4. Last year, the vegetable patch was home to exactly zero vegetables and approximately 7 million weeds. This year will be the opposite.  I'm going to start by burying some non-inked cardboard underneath compost and probably manure to keep the weeds down, a trick I recalled after reading about it here but have not ever tried.  Step two will be to actually plant vegetables and pull weeds. 
  5. Last year, I planted some marigolds along the edge of the flower bed in the back yard.  They appeared to me to be in identical amounts of sunlight.  This was decidedly not so.  Some of the marigolds were very happy, some were very sad.  So I will probably plant marigolds again in the happy place, since it made me smile to see their cheerful color out the back windows, but will need to find something a little less sunlight-dependent for the sad place. 
  6. There are lots of question marks in the back, and a difficult, very dry flower bed in the front.  I am not sure what to do with those, but they need something.
  7. Cut off on the left-hand side are "Neighbor's flowering yellow bushes - Lots of trimming required" in the back, and "Neighbor's lilies" in the front.
Won't these make for some fun before/after blog photos? 

Now, you may be asking yourself, "If all Erin had time for last year was a couple of crappy marigolds and some weeds, how is that going to change this year?"  Well, don't you think the answer to that is going to be interesting.  And if you weren't asking yourself that, I bet you are now.

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