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A mostly finished job

We have alluded several times over the past two weeks to the amount of work we've been putting into our back yard, AMostlyFinishedJob1.jpgand we are excited to say that we have now finally reached a point in our toils where we can sit back and enjoy the near end result.  Back when spring first greeted us in our new home we started forming plans for our wide backyard area.  Those plans, which we will carry out over the next few years, include improved drainage, property defining corner gardens, a butterfly garden, a rain garden, a wildflower garden, vegetable gardens, a patio, rain barrels, and composting.  AMostlyFinishedJob2.jpgOver Memorial Day weekend we shared pictures of the work we accomplished then - improved drainage immediately around the foundations of our house and a property defining garden that, when mature, will provide a little shade and privacy to our planned patio location.  In June we put in our butterfly garden and our vegetable garden, and we posted about the rain barrel we added last weekend to the front porch downspout.  Now, in July during some of the hottest days of the year (we hope), we have achieved what we feel is the crowning glory of our 2008 summer work - the rock creek (further improved drainage) and rain garden

The creek and garden both serve multiple purposes in our yard plan.  The rock creek is about eight inches deep and two feet wide, and has been lined and filled with rocks, all of which we picked up for free from Wing Farms (Dexter and Zeeb, Ann Arbor) where they are trying to rid their pumpkin fields of such intrusive items.  It begins where the downspout and sump pump end at the southeast corner of our house, and extends through our yard to the opening of the rain garden, AMostlyFinishedJob4.jpgso it not only keeps the runoff from making a sopping mess of that corner of our yard (which it used to do), it also supplies the rain garden with the water it needs, and will be the border on one side of our soon to exist patio.  The rain garden is about 9 by 18 feet, and about 1 foot deep .  The purpose of a a rain garden is to decrease the amount of polluted rain water runoff that enters our rivers through our storm drains, a job it achieves by "holding onto" the rain water long enough for the plants to drink it up.  AMostlyFinishedJob5.jpgIn order to do this a rain garden has to be relatively level, but our backyard is one big slope, so on the high side we dug down 1 foot and used that mud and sod to build up a 1 foot berm on the low side, creating a level garden, 1 foot deep throughout, with hard packed sides to retain the water.  The dirt is mostly replacement soil, consisting of a mixture of top soil and peat hummus.  It took us a full two weeks to complete the digging, shaping, leveling, and soil replacement, as well as the AMostlyFinishedJob7.jpgsmoothing of the creek walls and placement of the rocks, and just yesterday we finally got to the good part - the planting. 

The good thing about planting this late in the season is the sale aspect - by this time most nurseries are marking prices down and even sending some plants to the bargain tables.  Our plan was to outfit our garden with mostly native, water tolerant (not loving), wild flowers.  We did this by transplanting some plants from our old house, some from my mother's gardens, and by taking advantage of the perennial sale at Dexter Gardens (Baker Rd, Dexter), where the staff were not only helpful, but knowledgeable.  Now, nearly complete, our garden boasts a population of:  3 Black Eyed Susans, 2 Blue Flag Iris, 1 Sunburst Coreopsis, AMostlyFinishedJob6.jpg4 Coneflowers, 3 Joe Pye Weeds, 2 Columbines, 2 Fox Gloves, 3 Cardinal Flowers (lobelia cardinalis), 2 Queen Victoria Cardinal Flowers, 2 Beardtongues, 2 purple fountain grasses, and 4 Phlox.  Several of these are already past their bloom time this year, but some are just starting to show their summer colors.  We can't wait to see the bright red Cardinal Flowers open!  Now we finally get to sit back and enjoy.  The only step left is to fit the berm with rocks (which means more rock harvesting), but we can take our time with that.  The garden is young and unestablished this year, making it seem sparse, but before three years is up it should be very full, and relatively tall, providing not only water relief to our sewers, but also some shade and privacy to the patio that will go in between it and the corner garden.

There are more pictures of our progress and our plants in the Yard Transformation 2008 album, and while you're there you can also check out pictures from our butterfly garden and our veggie patch.

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Reader Comments (1)


What a wonderful job you all have done. I'm in awe of your strength and spirit.

July 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMom

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