Monday, March 21, 2016

Landscaping, Three Weeks Later...

I could not believe it had been three weeks since I posted!  What is wrong with me?  Oh yeah, I've been busy with nurturing the landscaping, among other things.

I looked at my American Express (AX) bill from the last month, which includes the last three weeks.  To be sure, Home Depot, Lowe's, and Tractor Supply Company have all benefitted from the landscaping effort at Leaning Oak.  Tools, hoses and other related kit, topsoil, and a new mower all put a sizeable ding in the AX bill.  I will say; however, that the new mower was among the smallest items purchased.  I originally thought I would a big Toro Zero Turn Radius (ZTR) mower for this property, with all the trees and other odd challenges it presents.  The one I wanted is here, but upon examining the places where I actually have grass, I realized the ZTR was overkill.  I got this mower, instead.  Yes, an old-style, reel-cut mower.  

A reel-cut mower acts like scissors when cutting the grass instead of a machete, as rotary mowers do.  I can cut the entire lawn in less than an hour without extra effort.  My mower came with a grass catcher, but I have yet to use it.  I have been mowing very frequently to encourage grass density development -- this is what golf course managers do to insure a tight turf on golf courses, and it works the same for any turfgrass.  As our lawn areas have been seeded, turf density must be stimulated by mowing.  The reel-cut mower I have can cut from 1-inch (2.54 cm) to 3-inches (7.62 cm).  I was cutting some areas almost daily at 1 1/8-inch (2.86 cm).  Because of the scissors-like cut, where the grass blades are cut between a blade's sharp edge and the bedding knife, very small cuts can be achieved.

Side note: I had a self-propelled powered seven-blade reel-cut mower, very similar to the ones used on putting greens at golf courses when we lived in Oklahoma 25 years ago.  Because of the grass type and the mower, it was easily the most beautiful lawn I ever had, and yes, it was almost like a putting green.

The pictures today show some progress on our turf development, with pictures contrasting where we are now versus where we were three weeks ago.  We are still have a long way from having a lush lawn (in the manicured areas immediately adjacent to the house, the rest is still being left wild, but more on that in a near-future post), but we are getting there.  The grass which you see is still the cool weather perennial ryegrass, as the temperatures are not yet warm enough for the bermudagrass to emerge.

Here are the pictures, beginning with the "perspective" shot taken yesterday:

Taken yesterday, late afternoon...

Taken three weeks ago...

Taken yesterday

Three weeks ago...


Three weeks ago...


The area in front of the two-car garage looking toward the street.  This area
did not receive the hydro-mulching (we ran out) and was seeded by hand.  It
also holds water (it does not always drain well), and getting the seed to
establish has been a challenge.

The same area, looking toward the two-car garage shows the gravel trim (to
keep cars off the grass) and the dogwood trees, which are now in leaf.  Blooms
are coming soon.

Yesterday, taken around mid-day, another perspective on the house and lawn development.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Landscaping is slowly coming around...

Landscaping is a slow process.  One cannot construct a tree in a day or two, nor have lush and inviting flowerbeds thriving in a week.  Of course, you could transplant those things in a day; but being growing and vibrant?  That takes time.  Today's pictures are a snapshot in time, if you will.  They are about the landscaping effort taking shape: some by our hand, and some by nature.  Just a heads-up: I have not yet seen the first of the wildflowers, but it is very early in the season for them.

Here are pictures and their stories:

We have created a problem for some of the birds.  We noticed this bluebird
after we heard a loud THUNK on the window.  He was laying on his side
for several minutes, then righted himself, eventually flying away.  It has been
years since I have seen a real bluebird, and it is nice to know they are a part
of our property and now our lives.

We love rocking chairs.  We have wanted rocking chairs for the front porch
since it was first conceived.  What we could not do was decide which ones
to get.  Our first thought was that we should get rockers from Cracker Barrel;
who has not enjoyed those rockers?  Yet, look at the wear and tear on the
rocker elements due to the concrete  They would not last very long.  We looked
at various plastics, including POLYWOOD, which is quite pricey.  We settled on
the Riata III collection found at H.E.B grocery stores: cast-aluminum and powder-
coated paint.  These are not only comfortable, but should last a very long time.

In the ongoing combat against mud and soft soils, we added this flagstone
path to the rear of the house.  It was the first one that i have ever done, and
required about 2500 pounds of stone (~1100 kg).  I got help at the end
(shown above) from my daughter and son-in-law as I was pretty tired by then.

The flagstone path connects the lanai and the back porch which is off the
utility room, and enables access to plants and sprinkler heads along the way.

Soon our new dogwood trees will be in bloom!  This is a good sign of health,
as all three of them are making their way toward blossoming.

The loropetalum is flowering nicely in the front beds.

Some of the grass seed has taken, and it looks like we might have a lawn after
all.  The grass which is seen here is the rye grass, an annual grass which will
give way to the Bermuda grass as the temperatures rise.  None of the Bermuda
grass has appeared, nor the fescue we sowed in the back.

The perspective shot showing grass along the drive, the side of the house, and grass in front of the two-car garage (far
left center of the photo).  I am ready for the oaks to begin leafing...