What in the world to do with this? Narrow "lawn".

Discussion in 'Lawn Care' started by BienesRaices, Aug 18, 2010.

  1. BienesRaices

    BienesRaices New Seed

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    hi,
    I have a narrow "lawn" on the side of my house as you can see from the first photo. It's not visible from the street, due to fence, and I don't use it or see it unless I'm walking through it to get to the back. Obviously it's a mess right now. I was thinking of killing it off and just putting stones in the side part, and then having the landscaper put new sod and tropical plants in just the backyard part (second photo). Is this a good idea? Are there any drawbacks to putting gravel on the side, or is there a better idea for this (other material, etc.)? I'm trying to save money (and yardwork) and since I don't use or see the side area often it doesn't seem practical to pay to have sod put there too. Thanks!

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  2. toni

    toni Mistress of Garden Junque Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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    The drawback I know of to laying gravel on such a large space is that it will reflect the sun's heat onto the side of the house, making those windows and that patio area very hot.
    And sometimes just killing off what is there and laying gravel is not enough to keep the weeds from growing back, then you have a place you can't mow because of the gravel so you have to hand weed.

    How many hours of sunlight does that area get? That will be a big factor in what you can plant there.

    If you use that area as a pathway to the back yard, how about digging up the weeds and laying stepping stones or a concrete path thru there. Make it meander instead of being a straight line, then you can plant ground cover plants, shrubs, flowering native plants and possible some small trees along the path to keep the area cool. That would make the view from that enclosed patio much more enjoyable than a truck load of gravel. The ground cover will help control the weeds and the native plants will be low maintenance.
    And if you put in the plants over an extended period of time it will be less expensive than hiring a landscaper to do it all at once....plus you will have the satisfaction of standing back and enjoying a garden area that you created.

    A path surrounded by plants will transition into the tropical garden area really well so it won't look haphazzard.
     
  3. BienesRaices

    BienesRaices New Seed

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    Thanks Toni,
    Is a pathway a project that I could reasonably undertake to do myself, or should I hire someone?
     
  4. toni

    toni Mistress of Garden Junque Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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    You most likely can do it yourself, just do some online searching for how-to instructions or check out your local Home Depot or Lowe's they will either have a free class or someone there who can answer questions.
     



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  5. BienesRaices

    BienesRaices New Seed

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    Thanks again!

    One more thing (or actually two):

    1) Would it be best to put mulch around both sides of the new pathway, and get rid of the grass completely on the side?

    2) Do I need to get rid of the grass on the side first before I have the new sod put in the back area of the house? I am concerned that the weeds from the side would spread to the new sod? Or is this not something to be worried about?
     
  6. Jewell

    Jewell Incorrigible Gardener Plants Contributor

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    I love little spaces to plant. (Your little space may be larger than you think) They are so much easier to establish and maintain. I am a pretty lackadaisical gardener, so take that into consideration. Here is how I would answer your questions.

    1) I would definitely get rid of the grass first before starting the project. Maintaining the beds are so much easier later.

    I mulch all beds with a variety of weed free organics. I have also been using bark for new pathways since it is cheap in my area and my dogs have some pathways run bare. In some areas I have used pavers for the pathways.

    2) As long as you keep the grass mowed in the narrow strip, you shouldn't have problems with weeds. If you are worried about quack grass or similar grasses having a "dead zone" (bare ground) between the new sod and the narrow planting strip should help.

    I too have narrow strips on both the south and north sides of the house. The south side is an herb garden with flowers interspersed along the house with a narrow path between the bed and fence. On the north side of the house is a moss covered brick pathway with woodland and shade tolerant plants.

    Here are a couple of my rustic solutions I did in my yard

    Good luck with your gardening projects.

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    Walkway between house and fishpond ( photo / image / picture from Jewell's Garden )

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    curved path between fence and fish pond ( photo / image / picture from Jewell's Garden )

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    Little Cement Pond between house and garage ( photo / image / picture from Jewell's Garden )
     
  7. BienesRaices

    BienesRaices New Seed

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    Thanks Jewell--great photos! Did you put that stone pathway in by yourself? How long did it take, and was it difficult?
     
  8. Jewell

    Jewell Incorrigible Gardener Plants Contributor

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    Yes, I did the pathways myself. Our soil is rock free so it wasn't too hard. Since your ground is flat already most of the time consuming work has already been done.

    I did a section of the yard at a time usually spending two weeks of my summer vacation removing sod, leveling soil and laying bricks. Like I said I did a section at a time. In the beginning, I used any used brick that friends that had a chimney removed or bricks found on the property when we moved here. Later I used the cheapest pavers in different colors mixed with the same thickness of paver brick. It was much easier to keep level.

    My bricks are laid on top of a sand base so that I could plant between the pavers if I wanted. The only drawbacks have been over the years (these paths are 15 years old) gophers sometimes make it so that I have to remove a brick and add soil beneath a paver. (But then again we had to have some concrete replaced when it broke from being badly undermined by the little critters.)

    I am sure you could find some good DIY instructions on the Internet on how to do it properly, but don't be discouraged about giving it a try. The only compacting, leveling, etc. that I did was with a spade, water hose and eyes. It suits me and my rather rough style, fairy-like gardening style. Also if it ever needs to be redone or I change my mind the pavers are easy to remove (my beds tend to get bigger as my walkways get smaller).
     
  9. BienesRaices

    BienesRaices New Seed

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    Thanks again Jewel! I now feel confident that it can be done, and that I can save $$$ by doing it myself.
     

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