I actually did some yard work today. We haven't had the money for the concrete blocks that I'm going to use for our raised beds and no one responded to my postings on craigslist for some, so I thought I would continue to prepare that area as well as others for future plantings. More than a month ago I covered the vegetable garden area with a tarp. I pulled it up today in order to use it in other areas of the yard that need smothering. I had some plastic edging that I put down around the vegetable garden and I laid newspapers and mulched the area with my neighbor's grass clippings. I definitely underestimated the amount of newspaper and mulch I would need (I always do that). I had enough to cover about half the area. I'm going to lay some black plastic over the remaining part to keep the weeds at bay for now.
(My friend Joan did something similar recently. She writes about it on the Oak Terrace Preserve blog.)
When I laid out the bed along the edge of our front yard, it was quite large - ambitious, maybe. I didn't plan to fill it immediately - instead, I figured I would plant areas of it as I got a feel for the landscaping, and as I got plants. The area farthest from the street has been the most neglected and recently I've decided that I want to make it an extension of the vegetable garden. When I removed the tarp from the back yard, I laid it over the area in the front yard where I plan to plant vegetables at a later date. Whenever I remove it, I'll use it to smother some areas in the back yard around the pond. I plan to give that area a makeover during the winter - at least that's the plan.
The desert garden in the front yard experienced an unusually busy time this week. I've been meaning to cut back our lantana. It had gotten very overgrown and it doesn't grow extremely upright, so it was beginning to take over the bed. I really just tried to reduce its width and make it somewhat symmetrical in the process. I think I did just that. (I should've taken before and after pictures!) It had completely engulfed one of my cactuses - Cereus Peruvianus Monstrosus (this not my plant-mine is only a foot tall) - after getting a good look at it again, I'm thinking I may dig it up and put it a pot somewhere instead. Speaking of cactuses, I came home from work the other day to find that my prickly pear had nearly fallen over. It had gotten overgrown during the summer since planting it. I knew I might have this trouble in the future and planned to take cuttings and plant more of it around the original plant, to make a wider and hopefully stronger base to support greater height. I didn't get around to doing this, thus the problem at hand. I got out there with my heavy work gloves and heavily pruned it back and mounded rocks and dirt around the base to stabilize the cactus. (Why don't I have photos of any of this? I need someone in my family to document these things - hint, hint.) It seems like I've lost a lot of plant material to pruning this week, but there's a bright spot - I found a yucca on the side of the road this week. It was just cut down out of a neighbor's yard - no roots - so there's a chance it won't survive, but I have confidence. Robin has been wanting some height in that bed. I expected something I planted - the cactus, lantana, or (what turned out to be dwarf) echinacea - to get tall, but nothing has. So I was glad to find this yucca that was probably six to seven feet tall. I didn't need anything that tall, but I figured I could plant it in a deep hole and cut it off if needed. I did all of that - using post-hole diggers, I dug as deep as I could, maybe two feet, and cut off maybe a foot and a half of the yucca and planted it. I'm happy with how it looks and hopefully it will live. I just remembered another plant acquisition in the past week. It's some kind of succulent - a groundcover that has nice yellow flowers. If you can see in the photo, I planted it in front of the birdbath. I'm not totally sure that it is hardy, but the person I got it from, his seems to last from year to year, possible dying back in the winter. I'll just have to wait and see.