Replacing Grass with Wildflowers

Grati, · Categories: Front Yard Garden, How I Grew It, Wildflowers
November 2013, in the bleak time prior to the creation of the wildflower garden.

November 2013, in the bleak time prior to the creation of the wildflower garden.

This year I replaced an 800-square-foot area of sun-bleached front yard with wildflowers, and it has been a lot of fun and very rewarding. I’ve even learned from my mistakes (I think.) I was amazed to discover how simple the process was–all I needed was an action hoe, some elbow grease, some wildflower seed, and a water hose.  Providing the elbow grease can be a problem for me, as I tire easily.  So I had to chip away at the project a few square feet at a time. (Better add planning and patience to the list of requirements.) Since I started prepping the area in November of 2013, that gave me plenty of time to gradually clear the ground and sow the seed.

June 2014: With the creation of the wildflower garden, the front yard has become an inviting place.

June 2014: With the creation of the wildflower garden, the front yard has become an inviting place.

I’ve been rewarded with striking displays of color, an unusual array of bugs and butterflies, more photo ops than you can count, a closer relationship with my neighbors, and even a request from a professional photographer who wanted to walk through the garden and do a photo shoot. And wildflowers re-sow easily, so I’m already looking forward to next year!

Here’s the slideshow with before-and-after pictures as well as intermediate steps in the process.

  • East side of front yard in July 2013, before conversion to wildflower garden: nothing but bleached-out Bermuda grass and sand burs.
    East side of front yard in July 2013, before conversion to wildflower garden: nothing but bleached-out Bermuda grass and sand burs.

Fun With Bad Clay

Grati, · Categories: How I Grew It, Vegetables, Wildflowers
Bad Clay Doing Its Thing.

Bad clay doing its thing: here’s a section of unamended, unplanted clay during a long dry spell.

I live on a hill covered with bad clay, and have read that a whole lot of work must be put into soil amendment to grow anything in it.  That’s not necessarily true; field peas and wildflowers will grow in anything, even if mixed in with a lot of weeds and grass.  As for growing anything else, I like to think I’ve been given an endless supply of in-ground clay planters.  I dig out sections of clay about eight inches deep, a foot wide, and three or four feet long; add several inches of water, then fill with a mixture of potting mix and peat moss, as well as adding a buried fertilizer strip (reminiscent of planting an EarthBox).  I add my plants, keep them watered, and they grow like crazy. I also use my bad clay as a sculpting medium; with it, I shape “pseudo-terraces” shored up with paving stones set in a clay channel. The stones dry in place, giving me terraces that help with the conservation and channeling of water.  Here’s the slideshow showing how I do it:

The next slideshow shows steps involved in setting up an extension between terrace one-east and terrace one-west.

  • Doing the layout for linking terrace one east and terrace one west
    I'm linking the east and west sections of terrace one. I have placed paving stones flat on the ground to mark off where the terrace border will be.

 

 

 

July 4th Sunflower Liberation

Grati, · Categories: Front Yard Garden, How I Grew It, Wildflowers
Wild Sunflower

Wild sunflower, completely recovered one week after transplant.

I rescued several wild sunflowers on the fourth of July from their death camp: a construction site that had been bulldozed for the building of yet another strip mall.  I had pulled up several more of them the previous week for transplant, but there was a huge hill of fill dirt covered with hundreds of sunflowers that I couldn’t save.  When I came back ten days after my initial rescue, the hill had been flattened and all the sunflowers destroyed.  There were a few survivors around a storm drain that the bulldozer could not reach, and I pulled up four of them. That’s the good thing about wild sunflowers; they are exceptionally tough.  I simply yanked them out of the ground.  The roots are so strong that they retained a lot of their native soil for a root ball.  When I transplanted them to row five of my wildflower garden, I just dug holes slightly larger than the plants’ root balls, filled the holes halfway with water, set the plant in the ground, and filled the dirt back in.  In less than a week, it was impossible to tell the plants had ever been moved, and some of them were blooming!  That’s about as close to an instant wildflower garden as you can get; the plants were three to four feet tall already, did not have to be cut back, and the existing buds remained viable and bloomed as they normally would. Absolutely awesome!

Sowing and Growing Wildflowers

Grati, · Categories: How I Grew It, Wildflowers

Coming in the next few days:  documentation and pix of how I prepped an 800-square-foot section of my front yard to become a wildflower garden.