Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dialing it In

The other night I was showing my friend, Brian, my latest garden project. He said, “Wow, you’re really getting to dial in on things these days!”

Brian is in the beginning stages of getting his yard to match his vision. Although in many ways I feel that I’m right there with him, I have to concede that most of my yard is getting close to something that looks like a finished garden. Sadly, I don’t have a lot left to do in the way of breaking new ground. The upside of that is that it means I can focus on dialing in on the things that have been bothering me.

I miss the creation aspect of gardening though. I don’t think there’s anything as satisfying for a gardener as taking a stretch of grass and turning it into the reflection of an inspired idea. But I have to admit that there is also something immensely satisfying about taking care of the numerous items on my list of things that have bugged me.

Within the past couple weeks I have been able to redo this stepping stone area, for example. I had installed these stones three years ago and had hoped that by now the Baby Tears would have filled in around all of them.

This picture focused on the better looking gaps and is closer to what I had hoped the entire area would look like.

Although it grew beautifully around many of them, there were several gaps between the stones where only errant grass blades, dandelions and unidentified weeds took root. I finally grew tired of weeding and wishing and redid this area so that it is cleaner and won’t require any more weeding. It’s a compromise from my original vision but I think it’s one that will eventually make me happier. It’s almost like having a permanent weed-blocking mulch.

The new look: planted with dwarf mondo grass, these gaps were left for form and function since there is a downspout nearby.  I will let the lawn fill in around the outside of these stones. 

Also on my to-do list was the drip irrigation line that I have buried around the outside of my patio. I love having it buried because I don’t need to worry about people tripping over it, but the drawback is that when I want to add a pot to the patio or fix a leak, I have to get out the shovel and start digging (carefully). Well, a few weeks ago I started noticing a wet area near the end of the buried line. What would have been a quick and easy fix had the irrigation line been above ground turned into something that I kept putting off.  After weeks of procrastination, I finally took a few minutes and dug up the line and fixed it. It took all of 10 minutes. It took about as long to wash my hands and arms off as it did to fix the leak. But I got it done and my efforts are already paying dividends.

Last weekend was devoted to installing what I am calling a "leach field" drainage system that should start whisking away the water that accumulates in a low part of my lawn which just happens to be right next to the corner of the house’s foundation. 

This drainage system doesn't look pretty right now, but it's working.  I added a semi-permeable mortar-like product called Gator Dust to the pea pebbles to help funnel the water toward the drain. 

The French poet, Paul Valery, once said “no poem is ever finished, only abandoned.” I have long thought that a garden is a tangible form of poetry that we gardener poets work and work until it says just what we want it to say. And then what we want to say changes just a little so we try to say it differently. Maybe my garden is close to saying something I wanted it to say, but I know it is far from finished and I am looking forward to the rewording.


  1. Great post! I don't think I've gotten to the dial it in stage of my garden even though I've been working on it for years.

  2. Hi. Really enjoyed the post. I think as gardeners we never really completely dial it in. We're always dividing, moving, redesigning -- I think because we're not happy unless we can dig in the dirt. Best of luck with the drainage.

  3. Thanks for reading GirlSprout and nittygrittydirman. I really didn't think I was at the "dialing it in" stage either until my friend made that comment and now that I have been thinking about it for a couple days I find myself wanting to start over in places. In other words, I'm just looking for an excuse to dig in the dirt.