The Elusive Spruce

When I ordered all the shrubs for foundation plantings I was unable to find a compatible blue spruce.

We have admired a neighbor’s blue spruce many times.

The house at the bottom of our street had a perfectly sized one and more than once we considered how to get it to our yard. (Just kidding.)

Nobody has asters this year.

The other day I stopped at the 4th or 5th nursery in a week in search of potted blue asters.

The nursery had an excellent selection of blue spruce trees.

The asters were not to be had but the  nursery had a wide selection of blue spruce trees in a variety of sizes.

With a seasonal sale the tree was less than $30.

I bought the smallest size for less than $30.

This blue spruce needs no pruning.

It came home in the hatchback of my car.

We’ll have to find just the right spot.

Next task is to plant it on the right side of the house where it will eventually balance the Cream Puff cedar tree when they both grow up.

Do you have a favorite fall plant?


We’re Getting Some Curb Appeal

Charlie has been working all week planting the shrubs that were delivered last week.

Charlie takes time to carefully plant each bush.

We placed everything. Then he started on the left side digging holes. Finally everything was planted.

A layer of cardboard helps to curtail weeds.

Then Charlie hauled up some shredded oak chips we had been storing behind the Cottage.

The dark mulch will lighten over time.

Unfortunately the pile of mulch was full of bees and Charlie was stung a dozen times.

The rock drainage area will also get a blue rug juniper.

He  kept working: laying down cardboard and newspaper which he topped with about 2 inches of chips.

The area between the stakes is the future walkway.

The next task is to dig a ditch in the swale in front of the planting where we’re planning to lay a path.

Admittedly the plants need to grow up a bit.

And we’ll probably need a another plant or two.

Who does the grunt work at your house?

Planting the Front Foundation Shrubs

In addition to helping Sug and me hang the final shutters Charlie started to plant the new shrubs.

The graded foundation area.

First he graded the dirt in the front of the house.

The original plant had 2 boxwood in the back spaced under the shutters and three in front centered on the window.

Together we placed the plants in position considering appropriate distances between the house and the plants and between the plants themselves. Ultimately the plants in back grow larger than the ones in front.

Charlie used a mattock to remove tree roots.

Holes were dug to accommodate the plants.

Holes were dug and watered.

Then Charlie filled the holes with water.

A shovelful of dark, rich compost was added to each hole.

He shoveled some of his well-rotted compost into each hole.

The bushes were planted at the same depth they were in their pots.

The bushes were removed from their pots and the roots separated.  The shrubs were put in their holes and covered with dirt.

Helleri Japanese holly in front; Green Velvet boxwood in back because it will grow taller.

By the end of Saturday the left-hand half of the foundation planting was finished.

The plants still need to be mulched with wood chips.

Together we set up the plants for the right hand side of the yard which Charlie plans to start digging today.

Do you create your own compost?

Two Tasks for Today

Our foundation shrubs arrived via free delivery from the nursery.

We’re going to try to split our human resources today to accomplish two different projects.

We tried a few different layouts.

Charlie is going to start planting up the shrubs in the front yard.

In the end we went with the original plan.

His goal for today is half the planting totally finished.

From the driveway viewpoint the plants are being set well away from the foundation.

Unfortunately it’s not just digging; there are tree roots running through the front yard that have to be mattocked out.

The 2 new windows beyond the porch need shutters to be newly sized and mounted.

I plan to finish up the details on the house shutters.  No doubt Sug will help both of us.

Are you enjoying fall weather?

The Edge of the Driveway

The Japanese plum yew at the corner of the driveway in front of the house is unusual.

The Japanese yew is at the right of the photo.

Charlie was hoping we were going to cut it down or dig it up.

Golden Thread False Cypress

Instead I purchased 3 Golden Thread false cypress plants to enhance the area.

The false cypress is a bright light in the shade of the front yard.

The yew is about 4-feet tall and the false cypress grows to a height of about 3 feet and spreads to about 3.5 feet.

We will spread the plants apart.

We need to be careful to give the plants enough room to grow.

Is it difficult for you to space small plants foreseeing their ultimate size?

Burying, Grading, and Positioning

While Charlie was grading the front yard he unburied a couple of items:

Charlie located the ground wire and posts.

First, our electrical ground wire and posts.

The concrete footer from the old front “porch” had been buried.

Second, the concrete footer from the old front stoop.

The concrete was cleared just so we could plant easily.

He dug up most of the footer then turned his attention to the ground wire.

I suggested he use some old hose to wrap the wire just in case someone decided to dig in the front bed. He totally disagreed with me. He wanted to cover the wire with chards of concrete block.  I thought that would be a mess.

The ground wire is wrapped in garden hose.

Charlie’s disclaimer was that he could easily cut through a garden hose with a shovel. I suggested he give it a try before he dismissed the idea out-of-hand.

Even the bend in the wire was covered.

He discovered that a garden hose is a very difficult item to cut through.  So he slit the hose lengthwise using both a utility knife and my heavy-duty scissors and then wrapped each piece of wire.

Charlie made a sketch of the position of the ground line for future reference.

Bringing wheelbarrows full of dirt from the back yard, he filled in the area and graded the entire front of the house so water would flow away from the foundation and around the house from left to right.

When we remove these shrubs from their pots they will almost disappear.

The plants were also delivered so we quickly placed them in the position of the original plan.  By the weekend I’m sure we will have moved them a dozen times to finalize their placement.

Do you seed or plant in the fall? Or wait until spring?

Foundation Plant Purchase

I visited for a second time the nursery Charlie and I looked through back at the beginning of August.

Meeting room for plant buyer and landscape advisor.

This time I was ready to use their free sketch up service and to order plants.

This template makes it easy to lay in plants on a scaled drawing.

At a round table in a small room I met with a young man who used his plant template to draw plant outlines on my measured ground plan.

My drawing was in 1/4-inch scale.

For each shape I gave a suggestion of what I wanted to use in the space.  Sometimes he agreed and sometimes he told me growing habits that might preclude using my choice in a certain spot.

Green Velvet boxwood

When we were finished I was given the sketch with a list of plant possibilities.

  • 4 Green Velvet boxwood
  • 6 Helleri Japanese holly
  • 2 Witchita blue junipers
  • 3 Golden Thread false cypress
  • 3 Blue Star juniper
  • 12 Blue Rug juniper
I might switch these bright Helleri Japanese holly with the boxwood depending on size considerations.

Then two other men led me around the nursery yard to pick out the exact plants I wanted.  The total came to just under $600.

Wichita blue juniper

In my vision the front of the house will have a tighter symmetrical planting than the sides and back. Note that my colors are blue, green, and yellow.  There are no reds, pinks, or oranges in the mix.  Those colors are in other parts of the yard.

Golden Thread False Cypress

Toward the side porch the plantings loosen up a bit in drifts as opposed to lines.

Blue Star juniper

When the plants are delivered next week I can rearrange them as I like. I’m excited to get this project in the ground.

Do you do your own landscaping or hire someone to finish the job?