Thursday, 19 April 2012

Rock, Rock. Whose there?

      We've been having some pretty serious landscaping related chats around here lately, mostly regarding our backyard which has some pretty intense sloping action. We decided to get proactive and source out some decorative allan blocks for our planned retaining wall/raised garden/amazingtown backyard problem solver. After getting a $2800 quote from a rock work supplier ( aka, the cheapest place in town) we really had to sit down and talk priorities. $2800 could get us some much needed new windows, and even help in the way of putting new siding on the front of the house. SO ultimately, we decided that we would come up with another, more cost effective plan for the backyard for right now.

   In the process though, we somehow ended up in the front yard. Our neighbours informed us that all the mulch beds ( there is 3) were put in just last year in attempts to add curb appeal for the house's real estate market debut. The irony is, we don't like the mulch beds. The one thing that the previous owner actually did to the house in 30 years, and we don't want any part of it. Sorry.

To us the red mulch chips were looking a bit crazy and lifeless, probably because for the most part they were. (And here you can very clearly see why we chose to prioritize new siding before backyard beautification. sigh) After a cruise through our favourite neighbourhoods for inspiration we decided we wanted to build up a small flower bed using some sort of decorative bricks.

We used a very sophisticated method of measurement to map out the changes we wanted to make to the area. 

The curvaceous design just wasn't for us, so even though it means our lawn will look a bit rough until the grass seed kicks in we decided to bring the flower bed edging back a bit. 

We cleared away the mulch chips enough to dig a very small trench for our blocks to sit in. Some tutorials suggested using sand or small pebbles underneath the blocks for optimum drainage, however we chose to forgo this step. We chose a pretty simple brick, largely because of the cost factor. For some of the more decorative styles we were looking at paying $250-$350 and we really weren't jazzed up about that. We found this style at Home Depot for $1.29 per brick and needed exactly 85 of them. 

After some tedious brick laying we were in business. But we still had to deal with all those red mulch chips!

Admittedly a lot of the mess in this bed was our fault. We removed 3 dead stumps here two weeks ago and it was one heck of a battle resulting in a lot of carnage, mostly from the stumps but don't be fooled the stumps got some of our blood as well (we had a minor wound situation, but all is well). We clearly got the last laugh.

We raked the chips and bark out to the best of our abilities. This step was unfortunately more like playing in a large cat litter box, dis-gust-ting. There are two feral cats that prowl our neighbourhood (affectionately dubbed Fluffy & Floofy but our neighbour who feeds them) that we are currently at odds with. I love cats, I hate cat poop. Go figure. 

I was really happy to rake some lovely dark soil through the newly built flower bed. We grabbed two of these jumbo bags of organic potting soil from Costco for just $9.99.

We planted some new shrubs, and tried to replant some of the tulip bulbs that were in the old bed. We're hoping that they take & look less like little tuffs of grass/weeds someday. Though we refer to it as a "flower bed" we were warned by our home inspector not to put too many thirsty plants right up against the house because when we watered them the water would slowly be effecting our foundation. Which is why we went with some shrubs that require light watering. 

The soil colour is a bit all over the place here because we had been digging up some of the drier dirt to plant the shrubs and also some areas had just been hit with some water. Ideally it will all be a lovely dark soil when evenly dry/watered. We like that it looks more fertile and tamed now and once the grass grows back in I think we'll love it even more. 

We're looking for some relatively friendly methods of keeping the cats out of our gardens. They have been visiting our backyard too. The options I have found so far sound a bit abrasive and I would never ever want to cause any sort of bodily harm to the cats. We really just want something that makes the gardens entirely undesirable to them. Any suggestions? 


  1. It looks great! Google "Contech Scarecrow". It's a motion activated sprinkler meant for keeping animals out of your yard. There's some pretty funny videos. Might be worth a shot?

  2. We've been hearing good things about those spinklers! I think it might just be the solution to our fluffy & floofy problems


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