Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Front Yard Mini Makeover
Here is a brief update of a project I completed earlier this spring- a small makeover to our front yard prairie, and a couple of pictures of what is flowering now (above is sticky geranium, Geranium viscosissimum, this is easy to grow, and quick to flower- unlike the species pictured at the end of the post) .
I moved the front path (taking my own advice), added a hill, and added some interpretive signs. The whole point was to correct some design shortcomings and embrace the public-ness of our front yard. This project was also a great opportunity to eradicate some weeds that have been difficult to control (Kentucky bluegrass, Poa pratensis , in particular), by digging up a couple of big sections.
All the plants we installed in the new area came from other places in our yard. I have a lot of fun digging up plants from our yard that are volunteers in the cracks in the sidewalk and other places, growing them in our nursery for a couple of weeks and planting them elsewhere int he yard. Most of these plants can from the area that our greenhouse now occupies.
Below is a picture of death camas (Zigadenus venenosus), a pretty severe sounding name. I hear it is not really deadly, but it will just make you sick, but I am not going to try it. It is a really neat little plant, and looks a lot like a tiny bear grass (Xerophyllum tenax). It is really easy to grow (provided you can get the bulbs). We initially got ours from some plant salvages (plants we rescued from a development in Missoula), but since them, they have seeded well and we have a lot of volunteers.
As far as design elements, our front path has always annoyed me- a straight line leading right to the door. Similar to the back yard, I broke up the concrete and rearranged it to a curving and wider, more inviting path.
Adding the hill added topography and some visual interest, and also helped to obscure the front entrance a little. This hill also provides a nice place to showcase 30 or so bitterroots (Lewisia rediviva) that I transplanted from our backyard when I dug up plants to install the greenhouse.
Below is a (I think- my wife might correct me) silky lupine (Lupinus sericeus), and in the background is arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata). Both are easy to grow, but as I mentioned here you need patience 4-7 years before that flower, and don't try to transplant them- their taproots are huge!
Since our front yard is a marked departure from the typical turf grass monoculture and token specimen trees so familiar to the urban/ suburban landscape, the addition of interpretive signs helps to explain what our landscape goals are. In the past, we have had signs that identify plants and signify this as a backyard wildlife habitat, but these new signs go one step further and explain Missoula prairies, wildlife gardening and why we do not have a lawn.
Below are two pictures of our front yard prairie, the top one is before (May 2005) and the bottom one is after (May 2009) this little makeover project. Not a huge change, but I think it is substantially better. I really enjoy small changes and rearranging elements in the landscape.