September garden progress – front yard

I’m very pleased with myself. I’ve been taking advantage of the sunny warm weather this week. I’ve done at least one thing in the garden every day except Monday (when the weather was grey and I was feeling blah). I give a lot of the credit to blogging about my intentions – public accountability seems to help me stay motivated. Here’s what I’ve been up to earlier in the week in my front yard.

Tuesday: I dug out the weeds and grass on the little strip of ground that runs up the fence next to what I’m going to call Riley’s place. (Riley is a very sweet, very lonely black lab pup, about a year old, who amuses me with his playful antics.) This strip of ground is narrow and shaded and quite useless. If I plant small things there they get overrun by weed grass from Riley’s lawn and they are invisible from the street or the front stoop. So I decided to move something taller and more substantial over there.

While I was sweaty and dirty and had the tools out I also cleared the ground in front of the porch – the rhododendron garden. I need to mulch that area!

Wednesday: Part 2 of the Riley’s fence yard plan. Digging up some tall grass (I call it feather grass, but I’m not sure exactly what it’s really called) from the flax garden on the right side of the porch. It crowds the shortcut pathway the mailman uses and along with the 10′ flax, blocks the view of the large hydrangea I planted back in 2004 when we moved in. That’s what happens when you garden haphazardly, without a plan.

Digging up the feather grass was a big job. I knew it would be, but I didn’t realize how big… The Internet told me I should have cut it back in winter and waited until just before the spring started to move it, but I planned to do that last spring, and never got to it. I also wanted the instant privacy effect of transplanting 6′ tall grass. Riley’s people are messy. So I started digging. And worked my way around the grass digging, levering, digging some more, levering some more, standing on the spade handle trying to get the roots to budge, falling flat on my face more than once, getting scratched up and sweaty and exhausted. I broke the handle of my spade. But almost 2 hours later I finally was able to push the whole plant over and free the rootball.

Huzzah! Halfway done.

digging up the feather grass

After lunch I returned to what I had started with a carpentry saw and a pruning saw, ready to try to divide the rootball. After 8-9 years growth the grass had gotten quite huge and I was determined to get at least 4 plants out of it… which meant 3 cuts through the rootball. I’d barely gotten started on it when I started wondering if I’d bitten off more than I could chew and begged my Facebook friends to come help me with a chainsaw. At least one offered to help, tomorrow. But since I had the whole root system exposed I didn’t think it was wise to delay, so I kept sawing and sawing and sawing. And falling over and tripping on things and scratching my arms and legs up even more… I think the sawing part took about 90 minutes. I used my spade to help cut through and separate the two halves which seemed to speed the process up a little. The feather grass was very dense and very hard to divide. But I eventually got my 4 quarters.

I got 3 of them evenly spaced in the space by Riley’s yard and (much to Riley’s delight) they created a curtain of grass, giving me a little privacy from his porch area where Navy sailors drink, smoke, grill, and chat all summer long. I got them watered in and tied back to protect them from the evening’s strong breeze. The 4th plant could have fit in the same area, but it would have blocked the gate a bit more than I would like, so for now I have it in a container. I think it might end up back in that flax garden area, in the back, where its height will work better. Next week I’m planning to dig up some short, lime green elephant grass and moving it into the spaces in between the feather grass to add a little pizzazz to that area.

feather grass new spot

I finished off my Wednesday by eating ice cream, showering, baking a banana cake (I had taken the butter out of the fridge earlier in the day so I felt committed to follow through), then walking 4 miles with my friend, something else I had already committed to. I was very sore and exhausted when I was done! But probably no more than I would have been from doing the gardening and then crashing. The banana cake topped with whipped cream made for a tasty dessert treat after my long day.

Thursday: I got some walking in, but I took it easy in the garden. While I was watering the feather grass in its new spot I cut back some fronds from the huge fern on the other side of the narrow pathway.  I should probably scrape some of the moss off that pathway, but I kind of like it like mossy. Hubby probably wants it clean, but I don’t remember the last time he used that pathway, except to come out and see what I’d done and give Riley some over-the-fence between-the-grass-bushes cuddles. I squirted him with the hose like he likes. Riley, that is. Not hubby!

Next time, continuing the busy week of gardening in the back yard.


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