Friday, April 03, 2009

$.99 landscaping

I spend a lot of time talking about the veg garden and showing you photos and numbing your minds with the minutia of gardening for food, but what about the rest of my place and does it look like crap because I only care about the plants that make snacks?

In a word, not really. Ok, that's two words, but you know.

While I haven't yet begun to create the Landscape of My Dreams on our property, I do try to work toward it during the few gardening moments which I don't dedicate specifically to making food happen in the yard.

My approach, however, is a little less, how you say, frenetic and high maintenance, when it comes to plants that don't make food. I intend to spend the majority of my gardening time making sure that the vegs happen, so everything else has to be low maintenance enough to survive with very little regular attention from moi.

Poor these plants. I play favorites and they are not them

But I do want them around, and I want them to serve the purpose of not looking ugly, so I spend the requisite amount of time choosing ones that don't really need me around in order to get on with their lives. 

Self-sufficient and independent - these are the plants for me. Cheap doesn't hurt either.

And this is where the $.99 Landscaping Plan comes in.

First, I identified an area for which I had nothing but contempt. You're familiar with it, in fact, as I've referenced it before. We call it the Dog Pee Hole

Then, I hatched an evil and cheap plan to convert its ugly dirt-and-nothing else-ness into something tolerable and perhaps even vaguely attractive by outlining a few criteria for these future plants. To work, I decided they must:
  1. Be drought tolerant
  2. Be heat tolerant
  3. Be cheaply acquired
  4. Not require an excessive amount of pruning or fussing about
  5. Be either native or non-invasive
  6. Thrive under adverse conditions such as dog pee, occasional trampling, run-ins with misc. yard equipment, the occasional uprooting due to irrigation repairs and random prodding from curious neighborhood kids named Max.
Also nice, but not absolutely required:
  1. Self seeding
  2. Direct sowing
  3. Flowering
  4. Perennial 
Then I went to OSH for something totally unrelated and bought myself a packet of California Native Wildflower seeds for $.99 because there they were right next to the counter as I was checking out. 

Neato. I like impulse shopping and California poppies. I will buy these right here, right now with change from the bottom of my purse. 

For the sake of being thorough, I will tell you that I came home, opened this packet haphazardly over the dead dirt of the dog pee hole and dumped the seeds out onto the soil. I then rummaged in the garage for a few minutes and unearthed a quarter packet of borage seeds from last year and then dumped those into the hole, too. 

And then, because I'd heard it was going to rain in a few days, I just kicked some dirt over the whole thing with my shoe and walked off, forgetting the whole thing had even happened and leaving the watering part up to Nature while I went inside and made myself a cocktail.

I'm sure it was around the 4 o'clock hour by then, so it was OK to be doing this.

Cheers to you, Dog Pee Hole! Peace out.

Then, about six months later (just the other day, in fact) I took this picture. 

Why, Dog Pee Hole, aren't you looking lovely! And nary a puddle in sight. 

So, OK, it's not the most groomed and manicured landscaping job, ever, but it's flowering and green and not just brown pee-soaked dirt. Plus, it required/requires zero watering, attention or work on my part. 

Oh, also, it's self-sowing, heat/cold/drought/shade/sun tolerant, pest resistant, a pollinator attractor and fun for Max to go rooting through asking, "What dis, Jada?" to a dog who is busy eating worms out of the driveway.

I did not realize the satisfaction, entertainment and aesthetic pleasure that could be derived from $.99. 

Perhaps I've been too dismissive of the passive act of planting wildflower seeds while I carefully maintained my rigid mindset that landscaping had to include such torturous and expensive acts as tedious design, meticulous pruning, painstaking care and endless manicuring. 

What if I extended this vague and loosely defined landscaping technique to the backyard? I mean, it might get a little wild, but it would only cost me about $5 to cover my yard in California poppies.

And it would leave me a lot of time to play favorites.

We'll see.


  1. HA! Take THAT, ridiculous $64-Tomato Man!

    I think your pee hole is beautiful, and I'm sure the neighborhood dogs appreciate the beautification of their toilet.

  2. Wow, that's the most beautiful dog pee hole I've ever seen! I think a backyard full of California poppies (with veggies peeking out) would be gorgeous!

  3. I love poppies. I don't usually like flowers but the California poppy rocks.

    And it's OK to have favorites. Your $.99 poppies have no access to therapists so they won't talk about you behind your back. Or behind your dog's butt. Whatever.

  4. Welcome to Guerrilla Gardening :) Its where people run around at night planting gardens in brown patches of dirt around the city. One day its dirt the next day its landscaped :)

  5. Amazing what an inexpensive packet of seeds can do. The dog pee hole transformation is great.

  6. Nice posting, I like your blog, When it comes to landscaping and labor intensive work I always bring out the bad boy toys. After destroying two back ends in my truck I finally decided to purchase some heavy duty equipment to help me on my way. I have found my dump truck and bucket truck to be very helpful with trimming tall trees and removing the debris from my yard.


[2013 update: You can't comment as an anonymous person anymore. Too many douchebags were leaving bullshit SPAM comments and my inbox was getting flooded, but if you're here to comment in a real way like a real person, go to it.]

Look at you commenting, that's fun.

So, here's the thing with commenting, unless you have an email address associated with your own profile, your comment will still post, but I won't have an email address with which to reply to you personally.

Sucks, right?

Anyway, to remedy this, I usually come back to my posts and post replies in the comment field with you.

But, if you ever want to email me directly to talk about pumpkins or shoes or what it's like to spend a good part of your day Swiffering - shoot me an email to finnyknitsATgmailDOTcom.