Renovating a home and garden built and landscaped in the 1960’s has been a wild experience.
We’d been looking for a waterfront home for years, dreaming of the perfect place to settle now that our kids are grown and on their own.
We found our future “landing spot” just before the pandemic hit. It’s a small house on a Great Lake.
This new (to us) property is about an acre, but a quarter of it is sand beach, anchor stone, and a wildflower hillside.
Of course it needs lots of TLC and that’s what we’ve been up to.
But the best part of this property is that I can actually grow things without foraging critters taking out my plants in one fell swoop.
Here, the deer seem to stay in the woods. It’s a lot more rural in this lakeside town, so the animals have plenty of wooded areas to live in without coming into backyards.
Out with the Old
So far, my gardening efforts have focused on the beds around the backyard swimming pool.
There is a 22 foot long border edging the chain link fence and three 5 by 5 foot plots next to the pool. I dug out the raggedy looking barberry bushes.
Why would anyone plant barberry around a pool? Beats me.
Digging out old shrubs proved to be the most difficult garden task so far.
When I started digging, I hit the rocks, literally.
It was those landscape rocks that used to top every shrub border that challenged my garden tools.
You know the ones – the marble chips or “lava rocks” that everyone used in the 70’s to mulch around their shaped hemlocks, cypresses, holly, boxwood, and yews.
Since I was composting the shrubs anyway, it wasn’t a big deal. I could pull on the shrub tops and clip the roots, then apply leverage with the shovel until the bushes came out.
I then added perennials from a local nursery. Planting in full sun has been a new experience Although the perennials were seedlings, they grew like gangbusters in the lakeside’s moderate weather and sandy, well drained soil.
Some of the sun loving perennials that are thriving include Salvia ‘Ballerina pink,’ Penstemon ‘Husker Red,’ Armeria maritima ‘Spendens,’ and two varieties of achillea.
As I dug up rocks, I used them to border the sidewalk.
I added soaker hoses to help keep the plants watered.
Some perennials like salvia have self-sown freely.
Hosta ‘Frances Williams’ and ‘Blue Angel’ became the anchors of the 5 x 5 ft. plots while
‘Stella d’oro’ daylilies and seed-grown lavender repeat along the outside of the pool fence.
This is our third growing season at the lake and I’ve already needed to dig up and divide the hosta and a few of the perennials. The shoreline climate makes for happy plants.
Flower Borders Looking Forward
The poolside plots and fence border are established and thriving to our satisfaction, but there is still plenty more to do on our property.
We’ve got a big wild patch in the front yard that needs taming. Old hibiscus shrubs and rhododendron need shaping. And there’s a hedge of yew that may need to go.
Time to start dreaming about next year!
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