Thursday, February 24, 2011

We need yard help...

OK, so I'm going to sound ungrateful here and complain a little about our HGTV experience. Which maybe is unfair, since I could really just blame the landscapers... In any case, our yard is not nearly as pretty as it looks in the photo in my blog header. We did our very best (in all seriousness, we really did) to maintain things and keep the yard looking as it did the day of the "reveal," but things have worked against us... The biggest issue that we have run into is with the grass creeping back into the flower beds. We kept up with weeding for several months, but the grass growing back in has been IMPOSSIBLE to take care of, and in our frustration, we kind of let the weeds go, too. We have bermudagrass, which if you know anything about, is OUT OF CONTROL. If you look at the link there, the line that sums it up best is: This is a very aggressive grass and flower beds or other areas will be quickly overrun if not kept in check. Once established it is very difficult to remove due to its extensive root system. Yes. That is exactly right. So the problem is that when the landscapers came and planted the dozens and dozens of lovely new plants, they did two things that seem wrong, even to me, an admitted idiot when it comes to plants. One, they did not really add any soil to the flower beds. The plants are mostly planted in straight up Georgia red clay, so a lot of them didn't make it, in spite of our best watering/feeding efforts. Two, they didn't pull up the bermudagrass in many areas of the flower bed. They may have churned it a little, but they didn't pull out the root systems, so it started growing back through the mulch, etc., almost immediately. After spending about three hours removing about 3 feet of bermudagrass+roots in one section of the flowerbed, Justin called it quits. Since then, they have more or less been neglected.

So now I'm trying to figure out some low cost fixes... Not easy. I did find some special spray that is supposed to kill grass but not flowers, but I've been too nervous to use it. We have so many lovely rosebushes planted in the yard, and I would hate to accidentally kill them. My other thought was to pull out as much as we can cosmetically (as well as try and figure out which plants are annuals and which are perennials so we can pull out the dead plants that are not going to come back in spring... which will be nearly impossible for us) and then get some free mulch to put over the flowerbeds. I'm thinking some pretty brown mulch might soften things up and match the warmth in the railing. Oh, that was the other thing: the black mulch that the landscapers used was VERY thinly applied, which made the weed/grass situation that much worse. They didn't use any kind of barrier between the lawn and the flowerbed either, so it has been tough trying to keep the grass from creeping in on the edges, too.

I'm open to any and all suggestions. We are so proud of the outside of our house and we don't want it to end up looking like we don't take care of our lawn. For now, we still have the winter excuse, but soon, we'll be fair game. And again, I don't want to sound ungrateful, but I think it would have been nice if they had given us some extra information about the yard. We were never told what any of the plants were, or how to take care of them, which is fine, but I think it would be smart on their part to help educate homeowners like us. I mean, part of the reason we got on the show was because our yard looked like crap, and we said in our audition tape that we had never had a yard to actually plant things in before so we didn't know where to start. But I know the bottom line is the big before and after. I mean, I'm pretty sure that's mostly the reason I watch the show!


  1. I can't fix the text color here. Sorry. It's being really difficult... Sigh.

  2. Hi there! My husband is the landscape architect, so I'll ask him his 2 cents when he gets home from a work trip. In other suggestions, have you called your local Cooperative Extension Office? They are amazingly helpful! When we got our soil tested, they were so generous with their time in helping us decipher the recommendations for soil amendments, etc. Google your local extension office...they are like the soil/plant gurus of every local area!

    Lesley @ (since I don't think my google account is linked correctly.

  3. Have you guys considered contacting the HGTV team? I mean, I understand that they did something for you guys but they could have been a bit more thorough like you said and explained everything to you. Sounds like typical before and after reveal shows... get er done as fast as possible and let the owners deal with the heartbreak/ache/problems.

  4. It looks like almost all of the flowers you have are annuals. It's hard to tell from the photo - the yellow grassy flowers may be daylilies (which are perennial and I can't tell what the red flowers or that small white flower in the foreground are. The coleus and begonias are all annuals. I'd spray the grass that you can't remove. As long as you don't get it on the roses they should be fine and I wouldn't really worry about any of the other plants that might still be alive. Definitely get some edging in there. The black plastic edging will probably work well for you. Get the stuff that is like 6" deep so the grass roots won't grow underneath. Then bring in a boatload of dirt and build up the bed. I'd put in some shrubs (some false cypress would be nice) and if you want a pop of color add some annuals. And much the heck out of it of course!

  5. I see red and green coleus (annual) in the very front, and yellow daylilies (perennial) behind that. I'm not sure what's right behind the daylilies with the tiny white flowers. It looks like maybe red petunias (annual) next. The white ones in the curve are begonias (annual). Daylilies are easy to dig up. Just put them in containers and keep them watered for a couple of weeks.

    Dig down at least 6 inches or more. If I were you, I wouldn't go to the trouble of sifting that dirt and trying to get out all the bermuda grass roots. I'd just haul it off. Once you've dug down, you can spray the heck out if it with Roundup, but wait a couple of weeks before replanting. I don't think the Roundup will kill the roses if you're careful not to get any on them. After a couple of weeks, lay down a bunch of cardboard and edging and then rebuild the bed with new garden soil from a nursery. I'd plant some low growing shrubs or daylilies in front of the roses and then put in liriope (perennial) as a border. Maybe a few clumps of cannas (perennial) and iris (perennial) on the sides would be nice. Those are very mid-century, as are the daylilies. The nice thing about liriope is that you just plant it and forget about it. It just keeps getting thicker with very little care. Sometimes you can run an ad on CL or asking to come thin someone's daylilies or cannas or iris or monkey grass and get it free. That's how I got all my cast iron plant. So many perennials have to be thinned to keep doing well, so you can always get them from friends or neighbors...or someone who's looking for free labor. :)

    Be sure to mulch well and replace the mulch when it starts to wash away, as it will do. Hope that helps.

  6. I'm blown away by all of the wonderfully helpful comments! I'm definitely going to keep all of your advice in mind as I try to get things back in order out there. Unfortunately, I'm right in the thick of writing my midterms so it will have to wait a couple of weeks, and even then, I won't have long blocks of time to dedicate (sigh at working full time, being in graduate school at night, having a 3 year old and being pregnant) to it, but I really really want to. It's almost like some kind of weird early on-set nesting instinct that is somehow extending to the lawn... But all of these suggestions make it seem so much more manageable to me. I've already looked at the plastic edging at our local Ace, and it seems fairly easy to use and reasonably priced. My Grandma and my sister both have amazing green thumbs, too, so I am hoping I can get some help from them, too. I promise I'll post updates when I get it moving.