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.