Monday, May 28, 2018

Landscaping and Gardening on a Budget

It's time to work in the garden and there isn't a better way to spend the day... until it gets too hot, anyway. Chris has the main vegetable/flower garden in hand and it's looking better than ever this year. We have dozens of buds on the rose bushes and almost as many on our columbine. We've been adding arugula to our salads and juices already. Arugula grows so well and will come back every year, too. Kale is coming up quickly as is our lettuce, and the seedlings are doing well. 

Our budget for gardening, landscaping, and such is essentially non-existent, but it's amazing what can be done without spending a lot of money. We've been fortunate to get free seeds and seedlings from Denver Urban Gardens this year. I added the link because I suspect many families who would easily qualify don't know about the program. 

In our attempts to tame the rest of the back yard, we've started adding some easy care gardens which will thrive even in our hot, dry summers. Sedum comes in many varieties and will grow almost anywhere. To fill in the new garden beds, we can simply dig up small bunches of what is already growing well in other beds. Hen and chicks, ornamental strawberries, speedwell, thyme, and other ground covers should fill in the gardens and, if all goes well, we can thin them out in a year or two and have more to plant in other spaces of the yard. 

We started on this last summer and our first garden is doing well. Two more are in the works. The landscaping materials have come via Craig's list and - from their FREE lists. This is when we realize how many very generous people we have in our community. Granted, maybe it's easier to give away some extra landscaping stones rather than try and sell them, but it's still a nice thing to do. We try to do the same when we have something extra.

Two years ago, someone close by had topsoil to give away. We drove over for numerous pickup loads and the grandkids enjoyed helping out, too.

Last summer we made a pathway. I hadn't found the supply of bricks at that point, so the pathway was made with various odd chunks of broken concrete. Not the easiest thing to work with and the pathway is rather... rustic, but on the plus side, those chunks of concrete aren't going anywhere. It was mid summer by the time I picked up 200 brand new bricks from a house in Westminster. We wanted a patio and I knew 200 bricks wouldn't be enough, but I got them anyway. I knew we would use them.

A few weeks later, there was another ad for free bricks, this time from the renovation of an old 1888 home in Globeville. The man who owned the home took one look at our small pickup and he started loading up his huge truck with bricks, too. He not only gave us the bricks, but he made two trips to deliver them for free. I gave him eggs, fresh garden lettuce, kale, and arugula in return. Now we have a pile of over 600 old bricks in addition to the 200 new ones and about a dozen or so large retaining wall bricks. Time to get to work.

I admit, I went a little crazy on the free stuff. Chris finally gently suggested we had enough landscaping rocks and bricks to last us for any number of projects. Sadly, I had to agree. That was last summer, though, and yesterday I picked up some bricks which had been cut at various angles. The small garden cart they were in was also part of the free deal. I'll use them because this year we're putting in a patio.

The small brick pathway by the porch and the new brick porch by my studio have been our practice projects. We've already begun clearing the space for the patio, with the help of our grandchildren. They're moving across to Maine in a week so we all enjoyed spending the time and working together. Here's the new garden bed they helped with today. 

Somebody else is excited about the garden! 


*Just as I was finishing up this article, the thunder and lightening started and it began to hail. We can never take anything for granted in our gardens here in Colorado. I think we got lucky this time. Our plants look undamaged.

oh, hail

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