All For My New Best Friend, Myrtle

May 31, 2011   //  Posted in: DIY, Gardening   //  By: Emily   //  12 responses
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I didn’t mention last week that when we found that awesome estate sale, I had also convinced the folks hosting the sale to give me a shovel full of Myrtle from the home’s front garden. It was lush, flowering little purple blossoms, and I thought it was the type of shade-loving ground cover that my yard might just soak up. I love me some maintenance-free ground cover. And I love me some free perennials.

And then I found more. At Pete’s parents. And they let me take some home. Clarification: they let us dig up an entire recycling bin’s worth -WHOA, that’s 6-layers thick in the next photo. And truth be told, you can barely tell; the hole in the middle of the garden was immediately consumed by remaining Myrtle. It just grows like that.

A bucket of freshly dug myrtle. Of course this meant I needed a place to plant it, pronto, so Sunday morning bright and early I conjured up a real plan of attack for starting work on that front garden that I had written about here. I’m not going to run out and buy some of the big shrubs I was hoping to splurge on, but having new plants to put in the ground gave me the courage to start something… anything.

First things first, I removed the tulip bulbs and transplanted them into the garden in the backyard; I realize this is a major no-no considering they had just barely finished blooming (and the ones that weren’t finished were trimmed and are sitting nicely on the mantel). Secondly, I weeded my little heart out until the front garden (from the vantage point of the porch) looked like this:

Front garden post-weeding. I left the hydrangea right where it was planted because it’s doing well this year; lots of new growth and shows promise for having blossoms too.

And then I started getting crazy.

All along, I’ve wanted to make the garden wider, but the driveway’s a big obstruction in that. Of course, I also had been wanting to reduce the driveway from 3-cars wide to a more balanced 2-car width, and having all these new plants that needed to get into the ground lit a bit of a fire under my butt to do it the way I wanted to the first time. And that involved ripping up a bit of asphalt.

I’m not sure what Pete was thinking when he came home to me with a sledgehammer and small pile of asphalt; I was sledging myself into a major state of head-achey and arm-achey but the asphalt was so hot and melty from the nice weather that it actually peeled up from the rock base pretty easily, and tore into manageably sized pieces in a way that I can only compare to breaking apart warm brownies. YUM.

After a little while, some ibuprofen and water, we had this:

Extended garden, shortened driveway. Of course, we had a little bit of work to do to get the finished end looking straight, and had to figure out a way to get a couple of posts from the original deck out of the ground, so we kept on working. Pete employed a trusty angle grinder to gouge a straight line into the asphalt; it happily gave us enough of a crack to effectively sledge and have it break right on the line.

Angle grindin'.

In another fun feats-of-strength-esque moment, I caught Pete on camera in a series of poses that only could be compared to something out of Power Rangers or Karate Kid. I think this earns him a black belt.

Black Belt Pete. How about another? Notice the dog through the glass?

And again.

And again? Just for fun. Because I’m impressed with him and my shutter speed.

And again.

Oh, and the posts did successfully make it out of the ground and I’m happy to say that the previous owners had built the original porch correctly with the posts 48″ under the earth completely surrounded by concrete. Read: this removal was not as easy as Pete makes it look.

I won’t get into the ordeal that is removing 40 sq.ft. of rock that lays 6″ deep as a base for the asphalt because that wasn’t easy in the least (and it’s boring, and I still have a headache when I think about shoveling grindy rocks)… but it’s gone, and in its place is 19 bags of sale-priced top soil (that seems mysteriously to be mixed with lots of bark, Home Depot). Thank goodness for Memorial Day Weekend savings at those stores; the whole buy didn’t cost more than $25 thanks to a 10% coupon I had saved.

The Myrtle was successfully transplanted and we’re looking forward to it getting it’s sea legs (or, roots) established so we can see some growth and expansion in the garden space.

Widened garden, freshly transplanted myrtle.

We made another big change to the front of the house yesterday, but the photos aren’t quite uploaded yet. I’ll share them as soon as possible! All I’ll say is… it’s finally looking SO GOOD.


Comments
  • amber perrodin
    7 years ago - Reply

    woah. i love your spirit. (and pete’s karate kicks)

    • Emily
      7 years ago -

      Ha! Thanks Amber!

  • Cait @ Hernando House
    7 years ago - Reply

    Those pictures of Pete are amazing, I love the last one! And go you for breaking up the asphalt like that! Can’t wait to see your Myrtle regain her sea legs/roots, the other front of the house change, etc etc!

    And speaking of doing things correctly? I’m thinking about being a rebel when we get around to our back patio. We may be skipping the recommended 6″ of gravel and going straight to weedblocker fabric and 2″ of sand. Nothing grows in that area anyhow, so maybe we’ll get away with it. Guess we’ll see what’s in the budget.

    • Cait @ Hernando House
      7 years ago -

      PS- Does it make my rebellion less awful if we think about treating the dirt with some sort of natural weed killer before the weedblocker fabric, and fill the spaces between the bricks with polymeric sand?

    • Emily
      7 years ago -

      Pete built a stone patio 15 years ago at his parent’s house without any of the 6″ stone/gravel/tamping treatments that most DIY processes tell you that you must do. I’m sure it has something to do with the solidness of the original earth, but it hasn’t gotten wavy or sunken or weird at all; we were just inspecting it this weekend. Come to think of it, my mom has done brick paths all through their back yard without the gravel treatment and it’s pretty solid too.

      I’m iffy about the whole weed treatment thing in general. I still need to be convinced that weeds can grow beneath rocks and pavers and cement. If nothing grows in the area that you’re putting the patio, do you need the weed block at all? I do like the idea of polymeric sand, but have no direct experience with it. Sounds like a better and more permanent solution than regular beach sand, which is what my mom has used in her brick paths; she has to pour new sand every few years, but at least it’s free.

    • Cait @ Hernando House
      7 years ago -

      I’m so glad to hear that about Pete’s parent’s patio and your mom’s paths, Emily!

      I guess when I say “nothing grows there” what I mean is “it’s a giant dirt pit thanks to the dogs”. The most “growth” we’ve had was shown in this post and it’s only gone downhill from there. Sara at Russet Street Reno used polymetric sand for their patio and I think she was happy with the results. But I like the idea of beach sand… Does your mom just acquire hers? I’m thinking this needs to happen for my patio. Maybe. Can I really blog about liberating beach sand for a patio? ;)

    • Emily
      7 years ago -

      Whether you blog about it probably depends on where you acquire the sand from :) Mom’s isn’t from a public beach or private property, there’s a quiet little beach by her house that she’s accessed for… ever. You could probably find your own little quiet beach and just blog that you bought sandbox sand at Home Depot. Am I allowed to be blogging about sand thievery tactics? All I know is I steal sand in my jean cuffs every time I take a beach walk. You could also grind up your own rock and glass and in 10 years have free sand. Full of ideas over here.

    • Cait @ Hernando House
      7 years ago -

      You’re hilarious! :) Between ” probably depends on where you acquire the sand from”, “All I know is I steal sand in my jean cuffs every time I take a beach walk” and the parts about finding a quiet beach but saying it’s from HD and sand thievery tactics? So much silent laughter going on over here. Good thing the guy who works next to me is out today.

      In all seriousness, as tempting as the thought of a free DIY patio is, I estimated that we need about 2.5 cubic yards of sand… That’s a lot of sand to “acquire”. Guess it’s probably better to pony up the cash for that one (and then maybe “acquire” any maintenance sand from there on out).

    • Emily
      7 years ago -

      Haha, I’m glad you liked those “points”.

      And hmmm yeah, that’s a lot to carry home from the beach. Plus, probably best to try the polymetric and see what happens with that. Wish I had more advice for your project but I can guarantee that it won’t fall apart; at the very least, it’s something that’s sitting on the ground that’s intended to get lots of foot traffic, right? Get the ground level and see what happens – looking forward to seeing pictures of your progress!

    • Cait @ Hernando House
      7 years ago -

      Thanks Emily!

  • Ashley @ DesignBuildLove.co
    7 years ago - Reply

    seriously, those pics of Pete are amazing! Go awesome camera and awesome man! Looks like memorial day weekend was full of fun yard stuff! Can’t wait to see more!!!

    • Emily
      7 years ago -

      Thanks Ashley! Hope yours was productive and fun too!

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