Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Does This Yard Look Lopsided?

Sometimes I bemoan the fact that my husband has no interest in gardening. He isn’t even interested in the lawn. While other men are aerating, fertilizing, watering, trimming, and over-seeding their grassy acre, I must nag Mike to mow our yard just once a week. I suppose, though, I should count my blessings. Because Mike has absolutely no interest in the yard, he doesn’t mind that my garden is slowly, but surely, consuming the lawn.

Every time I create a new bed, I tell myself, “At last, I have achieved the perfect balance between garden and lawn.” However, it takes just a few months for me to start eying another grassy patch. I have grand plans to tear up the hellstrip and a portion of the lawn along the sidewalk this fall. I will also be tilling and smothering the weed-cover in the north corner of the backyard. Those projects seemed like enough to achieve my final, grand vision until I took a look at our house from the street and realized that the garden looks lopsided! The bright flowers on the sunny left side completely overwhelm the reserved shade garden on the right. The asymmetry has been bothering me ever since. My solution is to create another island bed to the right of the stepping stone walkway, leaving “grass” paths between the new bed and the shade bed behind it and the shrub/shade border to the right. Our house faces southeast, so, although the holly tree will shade the new bed in the early morning, the plants should get six hours of sunlight during the late morning and early afternoon.

I plan on creating my new bed with the same method I used for the magnolia bed: smothering the lawn/weeds with newspaper topped with straw. The 6 – 10 sheets of paper I used in the magnolia bed proved absolutely impenetrable to the existing vegetation. Although the straw did contain grain seeds, they were few and the straw’s attractiveness more than made up for the inconvenience of pulling a few stalks of grain.

The best part of my plan is that I now have a place to plant dwarf forsythia (I’ve been coveting forsythia since last spring), to transplant the perennials I need to thin or move from other beds, and to house my bumper group of winter-sown biennials and perennials. I anticipate no objectsion from Mike, because there will be that much less grass for him to mow.


Blogger Christine said...

When I looked at the photo, I was thinking, "yeah, I could see a small bed to the right of the path, curving out a bit so that it visually connects with the green border ~ maybe 3 main items, like a small shrub and a couple of 2-3 ft flowering plants, with maybe one low-lying flower mound petering it out towards the right end...."
And that's basically what you were thinking, I saw as I read on through your post.

Since more than one person could picture it like that, I think it must be a visually sound design idea! :)

...What will I do when you move out of Cincy...? I'll feel bereft of a fellow cottage garden aficianado!

11:38 AM  
Blogger Catherine said...

newspaper? really? gonna have to give that a try. thanks for the tip!

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Asymmetry bothers me everywhere except (usually) the garden, but I know what you mean. Thankfully my front porch is off center or I probably would feel like the area had to be more even.

I am always plotting to take over more of the lawn. I recently added a bed in the front yard that currently has nothing but a yucca (blech). It's not nearly big enough, but the husband did the labor, so I had to compromise. I also am in the process of smothering grass in the backyard a la the newspaper and straw method. I told him it was because the area is hard to mow, which is true, but I also wanted more hostas and other shade plants. :)

What he doesn't know is I am already creating an island bed (in my head only at this point) in the backyard for all the winter sowing I am planning this year. Mwa ha ha ha ha ha!

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Amy said...

Ooops. That was me. I didn't mean to be anonymous.

1:41 PM  
Blogger snappy said...

A small bed on the right hand side with some perennials and that forsythia will balance the picture.I look constantly from every angle to work out planting plans and idea's.
Your cat is soooo cute in the path right in the middle.Such a good cat being your mid point.
Is that three of the same idea now?The best gardens i think have a balance of grass and borders.I love my grass and cut it.Sallyanne lets me do the garden, she keeps the house and designs the interior.A dynamic duo!!

3:00 PM  
Blogger Leah said...

FORSYTHIA IS EVIL - RUN AWAY! Seriously, we had forsythia lining both sides of our backyard when we moved into our house, and it has been a real headache ever since. Not only does it require LOTS of maintenance (cutting it back VERY often before it grows out of control) and pulling out all the new shoots every time a branch roots into the ground. Plus, it does not bloom long enough or full enough for all this maintenance to be worth it. If we're lucky, we get two weeks out of it in the spring, and the blooms are sparse and spindly. We now only have it lining one half of one side of our backyard, but that will probably be gone by next summer, too. I think the plan is to leave one lone forsythia bush for posterity ;)

3:03 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Love all your gardening ideas! I think a bed to the right would balance things out nicely! I used the wet newspaper thing this year to put around my little patch of onions I put out. It worked well!

I agree with Leah about the forsythia. It can be a real pain and requires lots of work. It's pretty though.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Dianne said...

You have some taller plants on one side. The smaller bed could be extended a wee bit, but that area looks colorful and bountiful to me.

7:18 AM  
Anonymous Repellent Review said...

I like the newspaper idea. I'm going to try that between some herbs I've got going. Weeding in between them can get tedious.

Some type of flowering bush would look nice on the right side possibly.

7:46 AM  
Blogger Leslie said...

I think your ideas sound great! Just beware...I started like that and now have no grass at all in my front yard...

7:56 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Forsythia is not evil at all. Just don't plant it where it requires any fussing.

Left to its own devices, it makes a charming waterfall-like mound of green, in a green that is slightly lighter than the greens of deep summer, always looking fresh.

I don't know how 'small' the dwarf forsythia gets... I know that 'dwarf' burning bush is 6' tall, so read the label details before buying.

I also wanted to put in a plug for my favorite plant in light shade - the japanese anemone. I think I've sung its praises here before, but here I go again - it has a lovely mound of interesting foliage, increasing marginally each year.

In the fall it throws up flowers a foot or more above the foliage in whites and various pinks. The two larger varieties can be 'read' from the street - how I discovered them - and are quite charming. I recommend Honorine Jobert and Robustissima. Tried and true in zone five.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Carol said...

I recommend 'Gold Tide' Forsythia, which I have in my garden. I am able to keep it to 3' tall though it does want to spread horizontally. However, it has always bloomed reliably for me, every spring, very early and very bright yellow. It's one of the 1st things I have blooming in the spring.

7:24 PM  

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