April 29, 2013

Soil-Hauling and Shrub-Planting Weekend

If you want a nice landscape, it helps to marry Superman.  Last weekend - in less than twenty hours - my husband hauled twenty cubic yards of soil from the pile in the driveway to the backyard.  The kids and I helped spread it out with rakes, but he did the rest.  He also dug fifty holes for shrubs.  And he had energy for a fifty mile bike ride on Saturday morning.  Plus some running and swimming and other triathlon workouts.  "See," he told me, "this whole time you thought I was training for races when I was actually training to landscape your backyard."  I'll feel a lot more cheerful about being a single mom during five hour workouts and race weekends after this.   It's nice to be able to support each other in our hobbies.  Above is a view of the yard halfway through the soil hauling process.

Here is a view of the west side of the yard after some shrubs were planted, including some peony and prickly rose transplants.  The six 'Katherine Havemeyer' lilacs and the trees all stayed in place, but pretty much everything else in the backyard will need to be divided and/or transplanted into the new beds.  There's still plenty of work to do, and I'm hoping to get most of it done in the next two weeks before we bring in ten yards of 'dark bark fines' to polish it up. 

Here is the view of the path on the south side of the yard, looking east.  A couple of 'Green Mountain' boxwoods are waiting to be planted on the right side of the photo (hopefully I can find another one at a nursery to complete the grouping), and you can see a group of three GM (that's Green Mountain, not genetically modified) boxwoods planted on the left.  I've used three types of boxwoods, thirty-five total, to create unity and evergreen structure around the yard.  Now they all just need to grow.

Here you can see more trios of GM boxwoods at the northeast corner of the yard and a 'Green Tower' boxwood on the right.  There are also a bunch of 'Green Velvet' boxwoods placed in the beds.  GM grows into an upright oval, GT has a columnar form, and GV is rounded.  All three hold their green color fairly well in winter instead of turning bronze.  You can also see a 'Scarlet Pearl' snowberry shrub on the right.  It has pink berries all winter - yummy eye candy for the eyes on grey winter days.

Here is a view of the mounded main garden bed across the lawn.  Planting designs for other areas of the yard are coming together nicely, but this area is giving me fits.  I like symmetry, so I'm doing some of that, but I'm trying to avoid making it too stiff.  It will no doubt need some editing over the next few years as I figure out what works.

I figured out the perfect place to sit for a direct view of the main garden bed and set a few plastic Adirondack chairs there for now.  I'd like a classy wrought iron bench eventually, but these chairs are more comfortable and were just sitting in a corner.  You can see the fence is still torn apart in the background, and hoses and pots are scattered about.  This is still very much a work in process.  More photos to come!


  1. For the record it was a 63 mile bike ride;-).

    1. Well, if anyone wasn't impressed before, they will be for sure now!

  2. It's so nice to see it coming together with more plants! My husband and I support each other's crazy hobbies too. I have a liking for symmetry too, but it is hard to break out of it. I also really love big, blowsy cottage gardens, but whenever I try to achieve that look, I have to fight against my OCD tendencies to have everything be matchy-matchy.

  3. That is an extraordinary transformation, superb. You'll have your piece of paradise for warmer days.

    Are you going to fill in the flags' with more thyme?

  4. How exciting! I have been watching the progress and you're getting to the best part now--planting!! I have the same plastic Adirondacks and keep talking about upgrading to a bench or some nice teak loungers but I just can't seem to get rid of them...comfortable, easy to move around to enjoy the best exposure/view points of the garden....

  5. Loving your re-do. The path is inviting, no wonder the kids are loving it. I'm thankful for the superman in my life, too. He does all the hard stuff for me.

  6. Nice to have so much help from your husband and kids. I like your boulders, they are a nice addition to the garden.

  7. You and your husband have made quite a difference to your new design in short order. My husband will work on hardscape and heavy-lifting for about one week in the spring and that's it...he's back to his music! However, I appreciate that one week. I like to garden at a pace, but he wants to just get it done and out of the way!


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