Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Now I'll show you mine...

Yesterday Pam at Digging put up a post about "pretties and uglies," bravely showing us places in her garden that might be less than their best, as well as the solutions she's come up with for them.

I'm guessing we've all got places like that. Sometimes they're neglected, tucked-away spots that we just never seem to get around to. Or maybe they are particularly troublesome, suffering from too much shade or afternoon sun. Or maybe, try as we might, when we look at that blank canvas, we simply draw an empty bucket from the well of inspiration. To mix a metaphor or two.

Yeah. You know the spot. Here is mine:



This orphaned little corner languished in my garden for all of last summer, mostly because I had Big Plans for it, and Big Plans are always problematic for me, since they mean I'm probably not going to get started on the project anytime in the near future...And, naturally, whilst I'm procrastinating nothing much happens. (I guess that's the definition of procrastination, isn't it?)

Sadly, the spot is the first thing people see when they walk into my back garden, killing any chance at a good first impression. It matters not that I say, "It's going to be a rainwater harvest garden!" because, you see, in this state it is only obvious to me that that is what it is. Oh, people might get a clue from the galvanized rain barrel that's already there, but I dare say that as cute as it is to me, I'm probably the only one that sees its gritty charm.

But now, fair reader, the "Rainwater Harvest Garden" is finally getting its due. I started work on it this weekend, and below I share the fruits of my labor:

Laying out the paving stones, taking care to make everything level.


Here I'm putting down several layers of newspaper to foil the pesky Bermuda grass. For those of you not familiar with it, Bermuda grass is an invasive weed (and originally from Africa, not Bermuda) that will not be discouraged by merely digging it up. It's drought-tolerant, and so I will grudgingly admit that it makes a decent lawn grass in these parts. However, as with everything, there are drawbacks and in this case it is its refusal to go away! once it has found a home. Bermuda grass won't grow when it is starved of light, though, so a light-blocker (such as several layers of newspaper) helps.

Even so, it will be back. Trust me on this. I am loathe to admit that I shall have to resort to the controversial Roundup for the stray bits that pop up. Many years of fighting this particular war of attrition have taught me this much. However, I take some comfort in keeping the collateral damage to a minimum through the light-starvation technique.


Leveling the gravel base for the tank.


Leveling the tank itself.


And there you have it. It looks better already. For a season or two, I'll put drought-tolerant plants in containers around the front. After that the nefarious Bermuda grass should be beaten back enough to allow me to plant directly in the gravel bed.

Next step will be to make the cover for the tank, and connect it to the original tank with an overflow tube. Capacity for this setup will be 150 gallons, for a total rainwater collection capacity of 300 gallons (I have two more barrels on the other side of the house). I can collect that much in a single good spring thunderstorm.

Gritty charm indeed.

29 comments:

  1. There that's better! And what a stylish solution to your water problem. Your Bermuda grass sounds as pesky as our couch grass is.

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  2. Thanks, Veep! I've never heard of couch grass, but I'll bet it is much the same.

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  3. I really like the size of that stock tank! That would make a great "pond"!
    I had Bermuda grass in Alabama, it is difficult to remove!

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  4. Now don't you feel better? Doesn't even look like the same area, good job!

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  5. Very cool. Can't wait to see how it shapes up. Keep us posted. On a side note....LOVE your blog.

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  6. That's a great looking stock tank and a really nice solution for your problem area. That tank looks like it might be fun to float in when the weather's dreadfully hot! ;-)

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  7. I love the rustic look of those stock tanks. I wonder if there's a way to "age" them quickly? I like them old and rusty. You got quite a bit accomplished, pat yourself on the back and take a break!

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  8. Hey, nice work! I love your rain barrel, BTW. Ours is a rust-colored plastic repurposed Greek olive tub. It's kind of cute but yours is cuter! Look forward to seeing the transformation as it moves into the future. If that's your "ugliest" bit, you've got most of us beat by a mile!

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  9. Jean--that's too funny. I hadn't thought about floating in it.

    Nola--I like the aged look, too, but don't know how to get it with galvanized tanks.

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  10. Great job Susan! That's another check of your list. Way to go girl!

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  11. I like what you've accomplished. So interesting to see more and more adopting raingardens, and I think this is an inspired solution for a problematic site. And I hear you on the glyphosate...it's the only thing that will defeat the evil bad goutweed at our place, other than solarizing with black plastic.

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  12. That's a great transformation already, Susan. It's fun to see how other gardeners tackle their problem spots. Thanks for the shout-out too.

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  13. I really like that galvanized look and I want one too. Where do you buy a tank that size? And, of course, how much does one cost? Congrats on the miraculous transformation.stsin

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  14. Hi James--I'll do another post soon on the tanks themselves and provide some answers.

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  15. Thanks, Pam. I'll do another little shout-out to your blog when I do the next post about the Rainwater Harvest Garden and talk about the tanks themselves.

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  16. It is looking much better already!

    But... Muhahahah! The Bermuda grass has been taking lessons in evil laughing over at Daphne's Dandelions. Did you know their roots can reach down 6 feet!

    But, seriously, you've accomplished another amazing task. I wish I was one quarter as handy!

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  17. Michelle--I didn't realize the roots could reach down that far, but I knew it was far enough to be out of the reach of digging...Oy.

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  18. Rain barrel and stock tank envy is all over me! But being a big girl and putting that aside...I must say you've done a great job! I know you feel lots better about the space... gail

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  19. I have never seen a rain barrel so big but living in the wide open West invites such things. I like the color of the stones with the house. It looks perfect.

    Looks like you discouraged the grass pretty good. I think this is more entertaining than this fungus special I'm watching on TV. Are you going to have mycelium? You could lodge a good rock down inside the trough and grow some expensive mushrooms. I'm just thinking how to make it earn a living.

    I just finished watching a special on mules. A pair cost $5,000. Are you going to get some or just stick with cows?

    I wish I had a trough. If that one gets too small are you going to order the next size up?

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  20. Your rainwater harvester is so cool - well done you. (Not something we need here in wet wales lol)
    K

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  21. PS I had no idea you were such a sucker for a certain baked good. If you come to Seattle, we will have to make a pilgrimage! :)

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  22. Hi Susan, oh I love this story and your metaphors too. Bucket is such a good catch all phrase. :-) You are nothing if not level headed! I need to take more time making sure things are level, a flaw in my personality. Gritty and charming is your rain catching garden.
    Frances

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  23. Sometimes the best you can hope for is to keep a pest at bay otherwise it can become a time wasting obsession!
    I love your tank - so attractive in its own right. I rather like metal in the garden and it usually weathers well.

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  24. This tank looks like a swimming pool or at least a koi pond. Your hard work has paid off. It looks great sitting there all level. This area is all neat and tidy a good first impression. The dreaded Bermuda grass has come into my garden too. It is awful. I didn't think that even Round Up would kill it. UGH..

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  25. That's marvellous! As usual, I admire your energy and go-to-it-ness.
    --Kate

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  26. I missed that, but I do have some spots that are not so pretty.

    What a wonderful transformation you created!

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  27. Wonderful rain barrel! You could keep a few pond goldfish in there to eat any mosquito larvae (maybe you don't have mosquitoes!) We had a 150 gallon stock tank/pond at our house we just moved from. We had 7 huge, friendly goldfish that lived there for a least 9 years (in the winter we put in a stock tank heater to melt an air-exchange hole in the ice and the fish went dormant until spring.)

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  28. Susan--What a great idea! I don't know why I didn't think of that, since the original use of the first tank was to store some goldfish while I moved a pond location...

    I like that idea much better than making a mosquito cover for it. :-)

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