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Organizing for Others: Out of the weeds

September 21, 2009

I spent my weekend fighting with a toddler . . . in the form of my mother’s 1 1/2-year-old garden.

The little rock garden I’d built for her had been invaded and destroyed from the ground up. 

There were multiple problems.  We’d gone to Lowe’s and picked out some pretty primroses, funny little perennial plants that looked like aliens with tentacles, an earthy-toned faux rock garden border, and bags and bags of white river rocks. 

The little alien plants took over, procreating like bunnies in the height of spring.  But at least they were pink and green and cute all over.  Then the weeds started creeping in.  My mom is busy, 70, and has some arthritis.  Daily weeding wasn’t gonna happen.  As if that wasn’t enough, the primroses we’d picked out turned out to be not the pretty little plants she’d admired in other gardens, but an exteremely rugged and invasive species of a Mexican creeping primrose.  By this summer she had one rocky, weedy mess.

With the weather cooling down this past weekend it was time to put an end to this:




The good news was that I could get the worst part over with first – weeding and de-rocking. 

Four bucketfuls of rocks later it looked like this:



As you can see, I’m a wee bit messy when I work. 

Many hours, dozens of bricks, newly learned bricklaying skills, 5 bags of topsoil, 3 bags of mulch, and $20 in mums and pansies later, Phase 1 was complete!

I chose to build a brick retaining wall because, when we were removing the old borders they crumbled.  That was a bummer, because I hated to waste them.  But the brick wall was easy to build (all you need is a level, bricks, leveling sand, and a wee bit of masonry adhesive to hold everything in place) and it allowed us to build up the garden bed to make it deeper.  And doesn’t it look oh-so-tidy?  I also liked that it tied in with the neighbor’s patio…P1010075

Speaking of patios, see the brick patio in the upper right area of the photo (below)?  My garden work coincided with the installation of the neighbor’s brick patio.  As soon as that is complete I’ll head back home to complete phase 2 of the garden, which involves:

  • Extending the brick wall (and garden) all the way over to the edge of her patio so that there is no grass between our garden and her bricks
  • Spray-painting the sump-pump’s white pipe a dark brown so that it blends in with the mulch
  • Installing a white (or brick-colored) trellis to hide the visible sides of the HVAC unit (can’t believe the builder installed it right there)
  • Planting an array of bulbs to encourage a spring-to-fall blooming garden in 2010
  •  Installing some large decorative rocks to add more texture to the garden
  • Covering the cement landing with bricks so that it’s not ugly


She had an old wooden birdhouse just sitting all alone on her deck, so I threw that in the garden to mix things up a little.  :)


Don’t you just love how a new bed of mulch and the clean red bricks really clean up the area?


Well, that’s it for now.  Stay tuned for Phase 2, coming in October!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 24, 2009 11:48 AM

    That looks really nice. We are working on our flowers and such too. I am NOT a gardener, but I am learning as I go (and taking a lot of chances!)

    I have a room a month linky party going, check it out:


  1. Toddler Development Milestones

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