Outside Projects

It may be the first day of spring, but with temperatures hovering around freezing and the ground being dusted with snow there is hardly the sense that I will be getting my hands dirty anytime soon.  This is the Midwestern United States which means that I could be in shorts tomorrow enjoying the outdoors and not a person would think the change in weather odd.

What that means is that I need to start considering what I want to get done during the warm weather months.  Every year the list is long on projects.

Primarily, the projects start with the desire to plant more trees and shrubs in and around my home.  At the time of construction my wife and I told the builder to not bother with landscaping and leave the beds that encircle the house empty so that we could choose.  As usual we wanted something different than globe arborvitae, daylilies, and an autumn blaze maple.  We ended up with the cliché autumn blaze maple in the front yard, which city code dictates must have one shade tree, which ended up in the backyard and was replaced by a disease resistant elm.

Nonetheless, it is amazing just how much space is around a house for planting.  After two warm weather seasons we have gotten some of the area planted, but it is nowhere as “thick” as we want it.  So, this year’s focus is filling in the beds with lots of plants that are low maintenance and drought hardy.

What does the project list looks like?

  1. Expand butterfly/pollinator garden—On the west side of my home I planted three butterfly bushes last year.  Each plant took to its new site well and flourished.  This year I want to bump out the bed from the foundation of the house a few feet and plant perrenials that are attractive to pollinators and will provide more visual interest.
  2. Prepare a garlic bed—The garlic will actually not be planted until the fall, but I want to prepare an area to grow garlic.
  3. Build homes for mason bees—We have all heard about colony collapse and I want to make my yard even more attractive to pollinators.  Attracting mason bees seems like a pretty easy and low maintenance solution.  I have a couple of ideas for making mason bee houses that I will post later on in the spring.
  4. Improve yard’s drought tolerance—This project is a combination of eliminating as much lawn as possible while still staying in the confines of city code and figuring out ways to make my soil capture more water rather than letting it run down to the street.  Right now, the yard’s soil is very sandy.  Like so sandy it’s a beach once you dig a few inches down.  That is great for drainage, but bad for retaining moisture.  During last year’s drought, which will persist into this year unless Noah starts building another ark, the plants were very stressed because  the soil retained so little of the scant available moisture.  There are a lot of ideas I have percolating in my head on how to improve the situation.
  5. Edible/medicinal/useful perennials—Plants can be ornamental and have great utility at the same time.  It is something that we overlook when picking out garden plants.  I want to incorporate more utility into my landscaping.  It’s one part curiosity and another part the drive for more self-reliance.

If I can accomplish all of these things by the beginning of fall, I will be one happy dude.


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