Tuesday, March 20, 2012

An Ugly Strip

There is a very ugly place in my yard.  

I don't know why I cringe to show it to all of you, dear readers, as it is right in my front yard for all the neighborhood to see, but here I am, averting my eyes..


This sunken down, weed-infested strip is in my front yard to the side of my house.  Our driveway is on the left and an empty lot is on the right.  There is a little bit of grass left over from when the house builders threw some sod on top of the terribly compacted clay a couple years ago.  You can see how well I've maintained that sod...


In front of the strip is a sidewalk, just so that everyone walking through the neighborhood can admire this lovely area with it's prime focal feature - the gigantic green utility box.

Something had to be done.

What I really wanted to do was till up the entire area and put a sophisticated planting along the area that would somehow magically mask the giant hideous utility box but still survive total neglect.  Unfortunately a whole lot of cables run the length of the strip which rules out tilling.  On to a more short term plan:  lasagna gardening!

If you've never heard of lasagna gardening, it's all about layering different materials on top of the existing dirt and weeds that will eventually 'cook' down into compost and attract earthworms up through the soil.  In theory, after a few seasons, this no-dig method will produce good soil that can easily be planted in.  

First layer:  corrugated cardboard or layers of newspaper


Wet the cardboard or newspaper thoroughly.  This layer will smother the weeds.

Next layers:  a mix of compostable materials


I used layers of straw, shredded leaves, and grass clippings and topped it off with a layer of mulch..


 ..and added a couple raised beds made of painted 1x8 boards for the kids to have fun in!


Arg, still a few weeds to remove, but much better than before!  And hopefully in another year or two, it will be ready for that sophisticated planting design!  (And I have some time to think of what in the world will hide that ugly utility box...)

13 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh, you post has found a kindred spirit (and I suspect many more as readers stop by). Excellent thought process to turn the "ugly strip" into a beautiful garden!

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  2. *your (I hate when I 'fat-finger' the keyboard!)

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  3. You will see a big big difference by using that method.

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  4. I always approach your blog postings with caution...wondering what critter has now managed to infiltrate your defences. But not today, oh no..today it's worse...a utility box of all things. Here in the UK, you can buy some really hideous sheets for covering equally hideous wheelie-bins (rubbish bins). Maybe there's an invention screaming to be invented by you (don't forget me when you become a millionaire from this idea!)x

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  5. I feel your pain! I have an ugly utility box that is such an eye sore in the garden. I would love to cover it up but alas that is not allowed. Also, not allowed is planting too close to the box so that a shrub would hide it or cover it up. I can't wait to see what you come up with. I may steal your idea. :) Those boxes that your kids painted are great! I love kids art work especially in the garden!

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  6. I feel like there is a fence in your future...and maybe roses, or fun vines. I'm sure you will come up with a beautiful solution, and I look forward to seeing it develop!

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  7. That was a great idea Indie to layer over that area. Your raised beds are just the thing. Everything we want to accomplish just takes time.I do little sections at a time around here. Have a wonderful week.

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  8. I have one of those boxes that I just ignore. Occasionally I see it out of the corner of my eye and think "oh, I'm supposed to be thinking how to camouflage you". Then I go back to doing whatever it was I was doing before. I am anxious to know how you're going to camouflage your box, and if it would work in my garden, too! I hope your kids have a blast in those adorable raised beds!

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  9. Great idea! I 'be used the lasagne gardening technique many times and it is great! Perfect for kids to have fun with this summer. Thanks for being brave and sharing something that is not beautiful! That takes real courage!

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  10. Hey you crazy lady...I come bearing gifts in the shape of an Inspiring Blog award. Dig out your best frock & start writing your acceptance speech xxx
    http://www.tidygardensbyjane.co.uk/2012/03/someones-been-on-sherry.html

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  11. I've been meaning to try lasagna gardening but never thought about how it would work so well in areas where there are buried utility lines. Great solution!

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  12. Yes better, much better. Beside my drive, I have a place similar. Mostly patchy, weedy dirt, courtesy of my neighbor the grower and propagator of weeds. I was just eying this spot today, thinking I could just pave it over and widen the drive, which is much better than dirt and mud. It used to be grass until the gargantuan weeds started their invasion. They are so tenacious, they even grow over the concrete.

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  13. Oh, power boxes.....yes, we all have them. Mine is hidden from view of the house by, what else? a stone wall, lol. I planted hostas right in front of it and Willie the Willow hangs his long trailing branches over the top. The power utility crew was here last summer to do some digging and we all parted as friends. The wall and the huge tree are far enough away from it so the cover opens and the hostas don't have deep roots. (And yes, we still have electricity, ha)

    I love the lasagna method and the way you've improved the area is marvelous! I bet the little ones love playing there. What an ingenious solution.

    You're a night owl too? I picked up that habit when my kids were little. After everyone else was in bed was 'my' time even though it ate into the time I needed to sleep. I always felt like it was ok to do what I wanted late at night instead of feeling guilty for not scrubbing floors or dusting or some other nonsensical chore. If I wanted to read or write or whatever there was no one around to notice.

    Fast forward to the kids grown and gone and now I'm trying to reform and head for bed at 11. But that means no writing late at night, except occasionally. Old habits die hard, lol.

    Have a great weekend!

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