Garden-to-Be, Garden Actual

Came today the first return on a few years of alternating sloth and work on the small patch of south-facing dirt beneath our kitchen window. When I moved into this house, that hundred and fifty or so square feet between the house and the driveway was thin and weedy, with occasional daffodils and tulips around the edges, monstrously huge hostas at either corner, and two large tree stumps. I developed a plan.


With enormous and invaluable advice and assistance from my father and brother, the pergola-to-be suggested in the above diagaram became Pergola Actual. Below it, that patch of dirt remained an eyesore, until I took it upon myself to investigate, and upon investigating, found that the weed patch had rooted itself well into a thin layer of topsoil that covered a long-lost attempt at a brick patio, itself laying atop a thin layer of sand, some scraps of weed-block fabric, and then clay and rock beneath. In a fit of ill-considered industry, I tore up the brick would-be patio foundations of the weed garden. To this removal, the weeds responded enthusiastically.


With prodding and assistance from the Orientalist, I weeded the remnants of the patio, and covered the remaining dirt in newspaper and plastic for the winter.


Note that the Godzilla hostas and one of the tree stumps at this point remain.


The tree stump required the application of a heavy-duty brass-ratcheted nylon web cargo strap to one of the towing pintles on the Orientalist’s vehicle and the judicious application of low-transfer all-wheel drive. Of the Godzilla hostas, two became eight and now further line the driveway with the assistance of a nursery spade, a mattock, and a digging bar.


After some graph-paper stagulating, we cut the trench for the new retaining wall. This involved demo of scant remains of an old retaining wall; scabbed-together bricks and mortar halfassery that was in keeping with the quality of workmanship and upkeep on the rest of the house when I moved in.


Note the initial use of the bowed 2 x 2 as a simulacrum of a level. That didn’t work so well, and we wound up tearing out most of those courses and starting over.


On the other hand, the use of an actual, real-life level treated us well, as much of a pain as it was to make sure that (1) each joint between bricks was level, (2) each brick was level left-to-right, and (3) each brick was level front-to-back.


And so now we have a garden with its wall and with its fruits, pole beans and okra and peppers and tomatoes and cucumbers and squash.


The Orientalist and I took our first small bites tonight: the green-tint pattypan squash, sliced and broiled; the pole beans, steamed; and cut small in a salad with balsamic vinegar and tamari, the cucumbers.

Garden-to-Be, Garden Actual

4 thoughts on “Garden-to-Be, Garden Actual

  • June 30, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Nice work. Will it be sunny enough to bear much? And, how’s your okra faring?

  • June 30, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    It seems to get plenty of sun with the southern exposure. Aside from the peppers, the okra is the slowest of what we planted, and the plants are still pretty small (in the seventh photo, they’re in the middle row, closest to the camera): we’ll see how they do.

  • July 1, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Absolutely lovely.
    Very professional-looking installation, particularly the curves. Comparing the line of the siding to the top of you wall, it appear that you have designed in a nice slope away from the house, that, together and the joints (backed up with what appears to be landscape fabric) should provide good drainage.

    Your initial use of the 2 x2 was on the right track: mason’s typically use a level line/string to establish the horizontal run of a course of brick/block/stone. Then you only have to be concerned about leveling the individual stones front to rear. But with the curves in your wall, the use of a line would have been problematic, and even a professional mason would probably have ended up doing what you did.
    What did you end up doing in the way of soil replacement/amendments?

  • July 7, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Nice work brah, looks great, love the curvature of the wall. Learned a new work too – halfassery, something this family knows little about.

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