Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How Much Does a Garden Cost?

 I swiped this aerial view of our house from Google maps, taken before they built the house next door, or put in our fence. That curved lot to the left is still vacant, and because of an all night rain, has standing water in parts of it. It's not all that low, it just is such dense clay that it takes a while to drain; like... days.
This picture shows what kind of space we have to work with to start the new garden. It's large for the neighborhood, but small compared to the five acres we had in Palmer. Thankful that I am, it will be a project that will cost a bit more either in labor or delivery and we are deciding about which part we want to spend the bucks.
I am not interested in doing the labor, being 66 and just getting over throwing out my back bringing in our couch. But Dave who is a mere 59 may want the challenge. He is still deciding. Keep in mind that part of the argument I made in getting him to move was LESS WORK. Was that a lie? Hmmm.
 
 We've both thought it and said it out loud, "This may be our last garden" and that thought has kept the flame burning brightly. And doing it once, and right is also in our thoughts. So what are we willing to spend  invest to make a garden we enjoy having and working in?
 
The local Tractor Supply place has three of the four cattle troughs we want, at $229 each. And they have the big round 'pond' for $305. We went there yesterday and were going to buy whatever we could load into the van, but Dave forgot his wallet and I left my purse at home. To say we are in garden-dreaming mode is pretty accurate. Duh. Nevertheless, on the way home, empty handed, we stopped at the mulch yard, the one we would pay to have mulch delivered, not the freebie one we used for all the mulch we got at our old house. For 5 cubic yards of hardwood mulch (a mere pittance) it is $22 a yard, plus $60 delivery fee. They also have the most luscious mushroom compost to fill the troughs, for $33 a cubic yard and we'd need about 6 yards of that.

 
The sums continue to add up, and gulp, to a large price. That is not counting the plants either. However, we close on the old house at the end of April and will get a big check, which obviously will pay off the loan with a bit leftover for play money. So what's the argument? It's what we want/need to make this place the home we worked to have.

 

The garden at our country house took just six years to build, so I assume since we are doing much less here, it should happen in less time. Not to mention all the places I bought plants from are just down the street!



 Must get more hosta!
 
Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.


33 comments:

  1. Diana from SC9:29 AM

    The pictures of your previous flowers are beautiful. I love the hosta. I, too, have gotten back into the flowers mood. Will have hanging baskets, hosta in the beds. I work slowly in the yard but enjoy it. I have a friend that uses the watering tubs for her raised gardens. We just had a flower show at SC market this past weekend. It was so much fun to see the variety of flowers.Best of luck with your plans.

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  2. I love the idea of using painted cattle troughs for your garden, but would hesitate to use the circular one as a fish pond. The reason? The metal sides will get awfully hot in the summer, and you don't have any shade at all. I'd be afraid the water would get too hot for the fish to survive. If it was buried, the ground would help insulate the tank.

    I look forward to seeing how you'll transform your empty lot into a beautiful garden.

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  3. YIKES!!! I don't envy you your task at hand for a lovely yard. My DH (73) and I (67) don't want to do any more "gardening". The last couple years we have not planted anything that needs to be re-planted every year. We have slowly transitioned to plants and shrubs that are low maintenance or no maintenance. Gone are the days when we spend hours planting and digging. I don't miss the backaches or sore knees :)

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  4. Melody, I don't garden here, but when we lived in another state I found the local freecycle could be a good source of plants that people were dividing or just wanted to get rid of.

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  5. Anonymous2:47 PM

    Melody, having started about 3 gardenz from scratch in the last 20 yearz, I cannot say loudly enuf that you should take a deep breath & spend this whole summer just planning & thinking & watching how the sun's arc plays out over the months. Then lay out the big features 1st. Resist the temptation to buy plants that won't thrive or will lock you into a less-than-ideal layout. And also important: If you have moles in that area, lay down many many layerz of landscape fabric everywhere, such as gravel paths, that you will not want to see their moundz. Love ya, Theresa

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  6. I agree with Anon. When I teach classes on landscaping I tell the class to buy the "furniture" first. Trees, shrubs and any decking they want in the yard. Then plan your travel paths. Use a hose to "draw" paths and beds (usually outside the windows). You want to be looking at very nice things while sitting in the house.

    This is all done BEFORE you bring home one single plant. Draw it on paper. Over and over.
    It's better to plan ten times than to dig ten times to move what you planted in error.

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  7. You can rent a pick-up truck from Lowe's Hardware. I've never rented it myself, but I've seen it sitting out front. Not sure if your Lowe's offers this or not. I thought it rented by the hour, but you'll need to check on that. Let us know how Dave ends up getting those planters home. They do look fantastic and we look forward to your photo journal of your emerging garden!

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  8. Our school has made great gardens using the circular "middle bit" our of washing machines - I think they were free from a recycling depot. They're not that big, but they work really well. Just a thought ...

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  9. Maybe Dave can put wheels on the tubs. Maybe he can build you a pergola to support the vines you will need to shade the hosta while you wait for the tree to grow.

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  10. Any chance you have someone in the area who could grade the soil and add in amendments to improve the clay? Then maybe add some planters, pavers (stepping stones), and a lined pond at ground level? And I know our local nursery has a landscape planning department where someone can come out to help design your planting areas, kind of what Joanne S described. I have been here 11 years, and most of my planting has been trees (on our mere 2.5 acres), but it has helped to add visual interest to an otherwise bare plot of land. Just enjoy and putter... it'll be grown before you know it!

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  11. We have a new house as well and though we have many lovely flower and shrub type gardens, we wanted a vegetable garden. A raised bed is a good choice and lots cheaper than the (wonderful) galvanized waterers. We made a 10'x4'x10" bed, with corners and wood and soil from Lowe's for about $100. You "could" paint the sides, though I think they will weather nicely. And you could add one a year. I will say this though, about either project, gardening is cheaper than paying a therapist! ;-D

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  12. I agree with you that spending the money on the garden is what it will take for your new house to feel like your home. After all, you're not taking your profit from selling your mountain home to travel to Europe or buy new furniture sets. Using it for what will make you happy makes so much sense, as does thinking through how to have an "age appropriate" garden.

    I am so glad to hear, though, that you and Dave will be making a garden. Not only does it bring you both joy, but I so enjoy watching your efforts unfold and seeing the beautiful photographs of all your lovely flowers and plants.

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  13. I love your enthusiasm for gardening, and the results! Will you be growing quite different plants in the sunshine than you did in the woods? A new world of plants to explore!

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  14. p.s. In reading the other comments, I forgot about the quote at the end of your post. It reminds me of a letter to an advice column years ago, in which someone was doubting the wisdom of going back to school because of her age when she finished. The reply was: And how old will you be then if you don't go to school? Hee.

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  16. I'm in the exact same boat as you are and getting tired of rowing! Except I have deer, you didn't mention deer and if you are getting hostas the you don't have deer.

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  17. Hi Melody,
    I understand why you are thinking about these troughs for close to instant container beds, but my thoughts are - it's an expensive band-aid solution that over time I don't think you will truly LOVE; I think it will look like you plunked down a few metal horse troughs into your bald prair-ee back yard, and after your lush landscaping on the mountain, I just can't see you loving that look - lol: so, instead of putting money into them, and pricey wood mulch etc., instead, you either draw up a holistic design plan, or have someone do it for you, to turn your back yard from builder flat, naked & boring into a wonderful ,creative, inviting, 4 season visual (and low maintenance) space ......a design plan that includes space and climate appropriate trees, shrubs, perennials, space for annuals and/or pots of annuals, for when & if you feel like adding them, a meandering walkway, an upwards architectural feature (couple of arbors, a pergola, a water feature bubbling up from a big beautiful pottery urn, or big old bucket/whatever....etc. etc., and/or/as a focal point (or two).....thus creating a space that calls you in to walk in and around, and see what's growing and changing day to day.....a place where there is delightful mystery, right?
    So.....I would put my money into hiring someone to come in and do the hard and no fun at all labor - to strip the sod off the garden & walkway areas (figured out by laying garden hoses in curving lines and living with them until you like what you see defined), then tilling and hugely amending the existing clay soil with many many bales of peat & quality bagged compost (which should be cheaper from Wal-Mart or Lowe's or a local garden center by the truckload than the mushroom compost, beautiful stuff that it is....)....and maybe even adding some sand, depending on where your soil is at. Amend until the soil no longer turns into a clay lump in your hand when you wet it - no more clay for making pots. lol.
    The meandering walkway could have 2 beds of different size & shapes on both sides, so you can walk through and into the beauty...and until you know for sure after a season or two where you exactly want it to be, it could just be layers of newspapers covered with cheap mulch from a box store - works great.
    A well designed outdoor living space, planted in well amended soil, with a good mulch, shouldn't be much work - really - you plant things close enough together (you don't seem to have a problem with that as I recall - lol), but not too close! and water until established, then enjoy.
    Arbors and pergolas made from willow branches cut & collected from the woods make great structures - air nailed together and binder twine tied at joints - I've had some that lasted 7years before needing to be replaced...clematis growing all over them, or climbing roses....I bet Dave could whip them up and would enjoy doing so...he could also make an awesome water feature, using a pump and a grill grate and a metal underground container, and up top a cool urn or whatever - great time to run the water pipe is when things are being dug up anyway.
    Also - rather than paying for all your plants, in 40 years I've never met a stingy gardener...I'd put an ad on Craigslist, or contact your local garden club folks, and ask for divisions that people will be glad to gift you with - day-lilies and iris etc. etc. all need dividing - you can still be picky and get beautiful plants for low to no cost from fellow passionate gardeners.
    So - I hope all these recommendations are helpful to you - all are given meant to be encouraging. I would also draw up a few design options for you and email to you, if you're truly stuck - but you're so good at design I can't believe that that's really necessary. But - I'm here for you - just let me know. Being from rural northern MN I won't know all your zone appropriate. plants, but - that doesn't really matter - as you know - it's about structure, shape, form & function. Cheers!

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    Replies
    1. Sandra, I understand your feeling that you expressed so lovingly here, but I do have a plan, and you will see it unfold here. I really don't want the work you expressed in establishing the clay into soil, and instead will do amazing things with containers. I will have trees and bushes that are native included in the crummy clay earth surrounding the containers.
      This is my fourth major garden in 35 years of gardening an I have a vision for what it will become. Stand back and watch me get it going!
      Melody

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  18. Hope things are OK? It has been three days since you posted........

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  19. Melody. I've emailed pictures of the pond filter device to you. Hope you get them. I think there are 3 emails to get all the pictures.

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Hello,
So nice of you to drop by. I love your comments, and if you would really like a reply, please email me at fibermania at g mail dot com