Saturday, March 5, 2016

An Update

Since moving into my house several years ago, the back yard has been the bane of my home's existence.  It was ok at first, but several factors including invasive roots and my lack of a green thumb sent it on a massive decline.  Then the drought over the last couple of years moved it into eyesore territory.
While sprucing things up a bit didn't really seem all that daunting, the fact that my brick wall (also a retaining wall) was being moved around by some serious roots was my biggest concern.  In certain areas, the concrete had worn out and bricks were moving around
A couple of friends told me that to fix the situation would cost many tens of thousands due to the retaining wall.  That stalled my need to make changes because I worried that if this wall fell down I'd have to redo it all again anyways.  Another told me that I should remove the trees causing the problem and at least that would keep anymore movement from happening.  That might have been worse news than the tens of thousands of dollars because the tree causing the problem is beautiful and shades well in the hot summer.  It saddened me to think the tree need to be removed.
Then, funnily enough, El Nino is what lit a fire under me to get things done in that backyard.  Due to the drought, things were pretty much dead and it was essentially a dirt lot. So when we had a few rains over my winter break, it turned into a swampy lot and was a mess with the dog. After one too many muddy dog footprints inside the house, I marched right outside, found the gardener, and had him get started on something.  I had visions of everything floating away in the predicted onslaught of El Nino rains...that have yet to come.  
Above is the just "before" the work was done.  And below, is after the first day of work.  The yard is root free and so level. I have never seen it so flat.
Over the next week or so, the pavers were added to extend the patio, the river rock was put in, and the sod was laid.  I wanted to get the yard water-wise, but still needed the grass for the dog.  I'm glad to still have some green, but the sprinklers have been redone and along with the drip system in the beds that line the yard.  I think the water will be used more efficiently.
An odd panoramic of the whole yard.  It's a bit distorted, but you get the idea.
And the best part, he removed the roots causing the wall movement and patched it up.  It's not perfect, but at least it will keep things together for the time being.  I'm hoping at least until the big predicted earthquake, so then insurance has to repair it.  
I haven't done anything yet to the planters around the edges.  There are currently roses in them, which have not done well under my care.  We'll see how the new water system works, and if needed I will redo those with native/drought tolerant plants.
Five more days until Rigby can go out there.  Then I'll REALLY enjoy it.


  1. I've changer the buttons on the pen. Ergo I blasted a very long comment into oblivion by clicking 'Back'. Fecking idiot.

    Free advice: Get rid of the roses now. Do a clean slate, a fire and forget in the US parlance. You are only going to be scab picking if you don't. And while you are at it get your painting dungarees and do that veranda and Tom Sawyer the fence.
    If there's more of the river stone -or a plenitude of them over the area- run them right up to the fence. At the moment you are in that to narrow to be useful and just wide enough to drive you nuts space, for you'll never keep the stones off the soil not the soil off the stones. And they are easy to rake back if you plant something, for you simply slosh a watering can over then to clean, viola, pristine again.

    Overall, I like what you did. It's crisp and uncomplicated. An error people make with gardens that size is trying to replicate some mansion they've visited, never works.

    Just one more thing Are the greens of the golf courses still green because of the chlorophyll or are they painted. If naturally green, then they've found a breed of grass that can survive and take a beating in your climate. It might be no harm to have a nosy about the garden centres and see if you could get a small bag of that seed.

    1. Thanks. Uncomplicated is what I was going for since I have not the skills nor the desire to do anything more than that. I want it to look nice and clean but there just isn't time or energy in my regular work day to keep it up. The gardener comes once a week, so I leave the upkeep to him. :)
      Yes! The fencing needs to be painting, badly. After our dry dry weather, a big rain just knocks the paint off in chunks.
      It kills me that the roses don't do well. My dad had roses in our yard when I was growing up (5 miles from my house now) and they were always gorgeous. Mine are not. :(
      The grass is sod, so it's nice and green right now. It's real grass. What I'm hoping is that now that the sprinklers are in correctly (previous ones were DIY I think), it should remain mostly green, even in the drought. I refuse to get the fake stuff. A lot of people are doing that, but ugh, it's awful. It's supposedly just as bad for the environment too - everyone taking out their real stuff and putting in the fake will create hotter conditions.

    2. If you have photo's of the roses your dad had I'll give a try at finding the variety. Things can't have changed all that much in LA. And if you are only 5 miles then they should grow.
      But you are beyond the region of tolerance of most rose varieties. In fact Napa is on the border :-).

      And uncomplicated isn't a bad thing. Put a big pot with an olive tree and you've got a classic.

    3. Yah, I was thinking of some pots along the new part of the patio. I hadn't thought of trees, but some small ones might be kind of nice too. My mom comes into town next week, so I'm going to put her to work on it. :) She and my dad were quite good at keeping things going...I didn't get that gene.
      Thank you for the offer, but I don't have any photos of them. from back then. Since they redid the yard and brought in new dirt, the plants already look healthier than they did before. The planter dirt always looked almost like sand to me before. This looks like dirt, soil. I also wonder if the yard is just too shady for them? The trees keep things pretty cool there. There is some morning sun, but the rest of the day is mostly covered.

    4. Shady!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IN LA ???????. I hear you need sunglasses in underground car parks.
      I thought olives for you'd almost cetainly get a harvest of them. How'd you like saying at the dinner table " these I just took from my trees" to your guests. :-). Big pot BTW. Big BIG BIIIIIG pot. :-D I've a post on my place, it seems not to be picking up on the newsline.

    5. I know! Now you know why I didn't want to lose those trees! It is bright! :)
      Not so sure about the olives to the table, as my track record shows. Keeping it alive would be considered a success!

    6. It's why I picked an Olive. They are almost impossible to kill. All they need is a wee dribble of water.
      They grow wild in places like Greece and Spain. And they have farms up in the north of you.

  2. It looks great!! I know you AND Rigby can hardly wait until it's completely done. You'll have some time to really enjoy sitting out back before it gets unbearably hot.

    From what I've read recently, it's the Pacific NW that needs to worry about the "big one" (and subsequent tsunami) more than y'all. ;)

    1. Thank you. Yes, it'll be nice to have a pretty, non-muddy, yard to enjoy. We had a downpour of rain last night and this morning there wasn't a mud puddle in sight. (sigh) :)

  3. Obviously I don't have the expertise of Vince . . . this looks BEAUTIFUL to me and I am most impressed w your vision, then your persistence to see things through. Well done! Question: does everyone in your area have earthquake insurance and given the increased likelihood, is it terribly expensive?

    1. Thanks. It is nice to have it finished, but until the dog can be out there, I just longing look at it from the window. :)
      Actually, most people don't have EQ insurance because it is SO expensive. In the Northridge quake, my parents had it as it wasn't unreasonable at that time, and it was a nightmare getting things from the insurance company. The neighbors didn't have it, and FEMA took care of their stuff in a much shorter time. After Northridge, rates skyrocketed, and no one was really willing to pay for it, especially after the experience of actually using it.

  4. It looks great!
    We are about to float away up here!
    I had a little reprieve to pull a ton of weeds that sprouted from the previous rain.