Pacific Northwest Gardening forum: So what would you do with this?

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Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Jan 30, 2019 6:57 PM CST
I kind of at a loss what to do with this area. A couple of years ago I had all kinds of ambitious plans, but I'm scaling back on that. Just don't have the energy or time. Now with my wife retiring and the house needing a new roof, funds are limited.

The only thing I've planted there are three Japanese Golden Forest Grass plants, about 3 or 4 years ago. They're still the same size as when I planted, only holding their own. The ground is very rooty and compact, making it hard to dig.

Up until recently I used to rake up all the pine/fir needles and willow leaves. I stopped doing that last year. Since the leaves and needles have been left to decay, I've noticed that moles have been digging around in the soil, they never used to do that. Tell me if I'm wrong, but to me that indicates that there are grubs in the soil, which is a good sign.

I'm thinking that come spring, I'm just going to put the mower in mulch mode and mow over the entire area to chop all the leaves and needles up fine and see what happens over time. The only way to make a good hole for planting would be to rent one of those hole-drilling machines I've seen. Yes, it's that rooty and hard.

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[Last edited by Brinybay - Jan 30, 2019 6:58 PM (+)]
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Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Mar 9, 2019 10:00 PM CST
I was anxious to do something in the yard or garden now that the Northwest Ice Age has finally receded, so I followed my own advice and mowed it all. Wasn't complicated and I didn't use a mulching blade, just took the bag off the back.

The mower (Cub Cadet) has a spring-loaded door that snaps shut when the bag is removed, turning it into a mulcher. I went over it 3 or 4 times, starting with the mower height in number 4 slot, then 3, then the "rock finder" height of 2. Hard to believe that all that organic matter is still there, just chopped up real fine, should decay quickly and looks good too, no tedious raking and bagging. It was a little harder around "Boot Hill" (as I call it), because the soil is softer (hence the mower wheels dug in more), the leaves thicker, but I managed to get most of it. I was careful around the three Japanese Forest Grass plants and the crocuses the squirrels planted (on the left of the first pic, by the bench).

Thumb of 2019-03-10/Brinybay/db68af Thumb of 2019-03-10/Brinybay/3419cf

[Last edited by Brinybay - Mar 9, 2019 10:31 PM (+)]
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Name: Mary
Lake Stevens, WA (Zone 8a)
Near Seattle
Bookworm Garden Photography Plant and/or Seed Trader Plays in the sandbox Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter
Winter Sowing
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Pistil
Mar 9, 2019 11:28 PM CST
How about native Rhododendrons and Azaleas? I think drought tolerant shrubs is probably the way to go there, for easy care.
The Pacific Rhododendron R. macrophyllum is drought tolerant and several could go by the house.
Western Azalea R. occidentale is deciduous, probably wants a bit more water- if I recall correctly on the other side of those big trees is a stream so maybe plant some by the trees.
Then just let them grow, maybe a few Salal. You would need to water the first couple of years, then they should be fine on their own.
It is too late for this year, but the Rhody can be gotten from the annual Snohomish Conservation District plant sale at the shocking price of three for $8. Now that is cheap. Possibly there is some King County organization selling natives real cheap. Check out the Conservation District website, the plant list is still available to look at, it's the cheapest way to get plants that I know.
Other ideas. If you want to come here some day and dig I have some shade plants that could use a home- I took out a huge pine tree that I had plantings under. I have a yellow flowering epimedium that does not need any water at all (except the first year) and slowly spreads as a groundcover. Be warned you might need an ax or a saw to dig it up, but you could have lots. I have Alstroemeria ' The Third Harmonic' which settled into that dry shade and has spread a bit, and I have 'Yellow Friendship' too but don't know how it does in shade. They could end up invasive, but in a dry spot seem ok. There are other plants I specifically placed there to do well in dry shade so I would not need to water much.
Name: Deb
Planet Earth (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Birds Dragonflies Ferns Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Bonehead
Mar 10, 2019 4:33 PM CST
Briny, if you are interested in more ferns, I have plenty of sword or deer ferns. I love them as an understory.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
Brinybay
Mar 10, 2019 11:51 PM CST
Pistil said:
It is too late for this year, but the Rhody can be gotten from the annual Snohomish Conservation District plant sale at the shocking price of three for $8. Now that is cheap. Possibly there is some King County organization selling natives real cheap. Check out the Conservation District website, the plant list is still available to look at, it's the cheapest way to get plants that I know.


I got on the email list for both King and Snohomish County Conservation District. Snohomish County plant sale is a bit closer (Evergreen Fair Grounds). King County's plant sale is way down in Renton, and I'm in North King County (Lake Forest Park).

Name: Deb
Planet Earth (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Birds Dragonflies Ferns Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
Bonehead
Mar 11, 2019 9:20 AM CST
Briny, you might also check into whatever conservation district you are in - since you are on a creek, there may be a program you can take advantage of to revegetate with natives. We are in the Snohomish Conservation District, and were the happy recipients of a large reveg project - the District provided all the plants and manpower.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
Brinybay
Mar 21, 2019 11:19 AM CST
Bonehead said:Briny, you might also check into whatever conservation district you are in - since you are on a creek, there may be a program you can take advantage of to revegetate with natives. We are in the Snohomish Conservation District, and were the happy recipients of a large reveg project - the District provided all the plants and manpower.


I'll keep that in mind. That would sure make things easier.

Another thing about that side is watering. Towards the back next to the house is a downspout and the sump pump drain. Right now they just drain into the creek via a small ditch I dug. When the monsoon season is here, that's a LOT of good, clean water that could be used for plants, especially the sump drain since it's all water that's been filtered through the ground then sucked up from the sump well. Only problem is I lack the technical skills to be able to harvest and store it.

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