Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Yard Maintenance and Improvements

This little trip through part of our yard...front and one side...is all about trying to maintain and improve its appearance and its function.  Have no doubt that this is not something that I enjoy spending money on!  Ten years ago, I could have done much of this work myself, but that is no longer the case.

The colorful loropetalum bushes in front of our house have survived another winter... They looked like the December cold snap had finally killed them off...but here they are in all their 'glory'.  The problem is that they have grown too tall and they're getting harder to trim back, at least as far back as far as Laurie wanted.  Her goal was that they should be below the porch railings.  We had other yard related projects that needed attention as well so we called a local service to deal with all of them.

So the 2 man crew cut the loropetalum bushes way back...I mean way back!  They also spread a new layer of mulch around them.  I guessed that this severe trimming in the spring might just kill the bushes...

But Mother Nature has taken hold and those scraggly dead looking remnants of the original loropetalum bushes, are making a major comeback.  Of course they have had a little human help from Laurie with extra water and some plant fertilizer... 

Then there was that other loropetalum next to our "Little Gem" magnolia tree.  The loropetalum had pretty much taken over that side of the flower bed and Laurie wanted it gone...

And...she got her wish!  That overgrown loropetalum is gone and an opportunity to plant flowering plants has been exposed.  FYI, cutting down the big loropetalum hasn't killed it either.  We now have a 6" shrub springing from the old root system.

Along one side of our driveway, we have a forsythia bush that seems to grow faster and higher than anything else in our yard.  The flowering Texas Star quince at its right, one of Laurie's favorites, was also expanding quickly.  We usually trim these bushes ourselves but since the landscaping team had power tools, they had this assignment too...

Then there were the more significant projects on our playlist!  The rock lined drainage strip along side our house had pretty much become a series of dams rather than a conduit for water to run off whenever we had a major rainstorm.  It was clogged with debris too which didn't help.

This is a close-up of our rock filled drain.  Between the impact of roots from a tree that was no longer there, the accumulation of dirt and plant waste and the shifting rocks over the last decade, the flow of water was blocked in several places as it flowed toward the back of our property. 

So the real effort was the removal of all the rocks and then ensuring that there actually was a channel for the water to follow.  Next the team laid down some waterproof sheeting to inhibit plant growth.  Finally they had to replace all the rocks...and before they were done they actually needed to bring in a small load of additional stones.

And this was the completed lined and rock filled drain... Interestingly the owner of the yard service company came back to take a look a few days later after a major rainstorm.  He wanted to make sure that it functioned as it should... 

FYI, during the rebuilding of the drain, we learned that the company that had built it in the first place had not lined it with the waterproof sheeting.

In the previous photos that showed the side of the house and the stone filled drain, you might have noted the plantings off to the right side, also surrounded by a bed of rocks.  The team that installed this rock feature did lay down the waterproof sheeting needed to keep the weeds at bay.  However, since this area is sloped, all the mulch washes away after a heavy rainfall.  We needed a solution...

The options were to terrace the bed or to install rock barriers or dams to retain the mulch near each of the bushes we have planted here.  We're hoping that it does the job for us as terracing would be far too expensive.  After a couple of good rainstorms, this solution is doing its job.  

The overall project was expensive but then just about everything is these days.  Maintaining one's home is an investment in the future...but it can hurt at the time!

The center of attention in this older photo is not the rock bed in the center of the picture but rather the broken up rock at the right side.  Late last year a tree company took down a hickory tree between our home and our neighbors that was on its last legs.  Despite Laurie warning them not to drop the logs onto the big rock right below them...and to lower them instead, they went ahead and dropped a big log on that rock, shattering it. 

The owner of the tree removal company had promised Laurie that they replace the shattered rock with a new one in the spring.  She had to remind them but it finally happened... The 'new' rock rests in the shattered remnants of the old one.

One last photo!  Every year these colorful cone flowers pop up around the giant boulder in our front yard.  They are very cheery and they attract the bees and butterflies.  When I was out in the yard the other day, I counted 11 bees of one type or another busily doing what bees do.  When the blooms die out the finches swarm the plants to feed on the seeds.  Now we have a few cone flowers popping up in the woods next door.  

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them... Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Now back to my efforts to straighten out my multiple photo files.  If the photos end up in the 'wrong' file, I currently have to move them to another file just in order to drop them into whatever blog posting I'm working on.  The next publication date is up in the air...

We hope that your summer is going well!  

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave and Laurie


  1. I guess some money just can't be spared. Your house looks so warming and lovely. Wish I had passion and patience for gardening...

  2. It's an ongoing challenge for sure. I didn't realize there was so much river rock at your place.

  3. I love the rock treatment, and it does save on mowing or mulching more frequently in those areas. Yes those on slopes have to look at drainage that is practical and hopefully pleasing to the eye. These seem to do it!