The Calm Before the Storm: Backyard Progress Report Jan 2017

People keep asking me if I’m sick of the rain yet. I give a resounding, “are you mad!?” Who in their right mind would be sick of rain after six years of drought? So, no, I’m not sick of it. I worship it, I adore it and I dance naked in it. Don’t start peeping over my fence now! The very first thing I did when I bought the house, and stared for hours out into the vast expanse of nothingness, was to re-grade my whole lot. I built dry riverbeds and redirected potential flows of water from one bed to the next. And then year after year of drought followed. Finally, this year has above average rains and I get to put my landscaping to the ultimate test. And guess what, it all works (mostly) perfectly. Not a drop is wasted on runoff to the adjacent lots. It’s mine all mine!! Mwahahahaha!

And now that the guinea fowl population has been drastically reduced and the remaining two are too afraid to scratch a single bed or path for fear of the ultimate and final punishment, I can now return to business as usual. I can now finally replant, transplant, deadhead and prune without the bubbling rage and constant destruction.

Better late than never is the strategy for my winter veggie garden. Today before the next storm rolled in I dropped in some late kale, spinach, bok choy and collard greens. The first of the remaining guinea fowl to even look at this bed will end up in the pot faster than you can say, “never get guinea fowl”.

I’ve cleaned up the damage they’ve done and have bolstered the beds with more rocks as well as the occasional booby-trap. Above, I’ve planted some more lavender and various succulents taken from clippings. The sage is bouncing back as well.

This bed was a huge traffic area for the foul fowl. The main addition will be that little lavender bush surrounded by chicken wire. It’ll fill up that whole are when it’s full grown. The rest is more drought resistant succulent varieties to act as road blocks and to break up the bird path. I added some bamboo and a tomato cage to help slow down the foot traffic and allow the plants to take root.

The paths themselves have also been cleaned from all the mulch that was getting kicked around. And I also went through last weekend with my awesome weed torch and napalmed the hell out of those unscrupulous bastards. I highly recommend this torch!

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Those weeds didn’t stand a chance. But weep not for them, they will always return. And I will be waiting in the shadows to bring the holocaust back to them.

Even the usually weak and dry back corner is showing signs of lush green growth from all the rain. This is another highway, but for cats, so I added some catscram and spiky aloe to both puncture and heal any wayward visitors. Not that any of this stops them. It just makes me feel more proactive is all.

Sasha is trying to blend in with the succulent garden. Nice try girl. Even the drought resistant succulent garden was feeling the burn from all these hot dry summers. But now everything is filling in nicely!

Here’s some more cleaned up beds and pathways. You’ll notice that I use a variety of stone edging for my beds. That’s because I never spend money on landscaping supplies. I comb the classifieds, dig down in the dirt and scour the alleyways to find free supplies. Fake it until you make it!

The water features have also not required any refilling for months! Such a relief after trying so hard to be water-wise for so long. I also haven’t had to turn on my lawn irrigation (my guilty pleasure) in months. The lawn is green, dense and happy.

I’ve just about finished all my winter pruning as well. The coastal coral tree has donated a huge 10′ cutting for a backyard planting to provide some much needed shade. That tree is the most giving tree ever. I love it.
[urlpreviewbox url=””/]I highly recommend it if you have the notion. The tree on my front lawn was put in the ground not more than three years ago and it’s already taller than my house. Fastest growing thing I’ve ever planted! Except maybe the passion fruit vine. 

Even my little curb strip plantings are doing well. It was my goal to make this completely care-free. No love for them as they need to be independent of water or fertilizer. It’s an experiment I’m working on. You can see more here. So far, they’re hanging in nicely, but are slow growing. Eventually that yucca will be poking out the eyes of all my guests. I’ll have to stay on top of the pruning and make sure they all remain a single trunk tree. Until then, plenty of parking in front of my house! On account of the danger. Which may or may not be the true reason I chose yucca. Who can say? 

Sasha looks mockingly at the two Cyprus trees that I just cut in half. They were getting too bold for my liking. They were also beginning to block my big window and reaching over the rooftop. I removed about 2/3 of the trees and then emotionally belittled them. Sasha helped.

 So now as I sit here and write this, the next batch of storms is rolling in with a heavy wind proceeding it. In between the storms, I’ve been a busy gardener. But not too busy to share with you. Cheers!

13 Replies to “The Calm Before the Storm: Backyard Progress Report Jan 2017”

  1. I love the diversity in your planting throughout the yard and just how lush and wonderful everything looks. #gardenenvy I’m looking at it snowing sideways here and a couple of feet of snow!

    What is catscram? The neighborhood moggies used my herb garden as a delightfully scented catbox last year killing off pretty much everything I had lovingly planted. It was almost as bad as the bathrooms in a dive bar so I’m looking at ways to keep them from using my yard as the public restrooms.

    1. The plant is called Plectranthus caninus. It has beautiful blooms and the smell is supposed to ward off critters. It smells like, well, really dank weed. As to its actual effectiveness, I can’t say. It’s debatable as to whether or not it actually works.

  2. Ooh, this makes me itch to get out and clean up the mess that my gardens become over a soggy Northwest winter! But it’s not quite time to start yet. I, too, like your variety of edging plantings. A surprise around every bend! I want to know what catscram is, too. Like Emma, cats pretty much ruined our little crop last year. Of course, it’s mainly our own eight kitties that are to blame, so we can’t scram them too much.

    By the way, up here we call them parking strips.

    1. I actually looked up the various names for the little piece of land next to the street. Every region has their own name for it and you can tell where someone is from based on what name they use.

      The plant in question is Plectranthus caninus. A lovely and sticky ground cover that has amazing blooms and an ify effectiveness at best.

          1. I looked up yours and they’re definitely not the same. A master gardener told me that people actually used dried bedstraw to stuff mattresses … before anyone thought of Velcro.

          2. I guess that’s where the name comes from then. I know when I lay down fresh straw in the chicken run, it’s super cozy to nap in. More than you’d expect. But then you wake up with chicken butts in your face

  3. I thought my house was going to blow away last night! We have survived up here many thanks to my huz who has to rake/shovel rocks away in our side yard to make a drainage “creek” thus allowing the temporary lake in the back yard to drain.

    Good luck with the coastal coral in the back yard. Loved your old post on that and looking forward to seeing it grow.

    Also love the idea of grading your yard to make use of the water run off. I’ve always thought it would be neat to catch the rain water runoff from the house to water the plants…never done it. In fact someone told me it was illegal which doesn’t make since.


    1. It’s illegal to have runoff onto other people’s lots. Not the other way around. A law that nobody ever abides. Well, except me. But not because of the law, because of my water greed.

      I was lucky to have a completely clean canvas when I bought the house so it was easy to grade everything the way I wanted to. A more established yard would be tricky. But not impossible.

      Sounds like the husband is on the right track with the dry riverbed! A great idea and it can be made into a landscape feature with the right plants.

      Great minds think alike! Cheers!

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