We see quite a few yards in need of a makeover here at YardShare, and this one is probably in the top 10. Owner George Graf describes his yard as downright “scary”. It’s littered with rotting wood and broken stone. To make matters worse, the ground is hostile territory for any plant that has roots more than an inch deep. This Virginia soil is hard clay shale with just a sprinkling of top soil. It’s some dirt poor dirt. Finally, voles are eating the few plants that do manage to take up shaky residence in his lawn. What can George do to turn his yard around?
Get Friendly with Some Different Vegetation
Not every lawn is meant to look like a golf course. Thick, deep green grass is only one of the options available to create a beautiful landscape. A ground cover that can tolerate a clay/shale mix is probably a better option for this lawn unless George wants to spend the next several years amending the soil. Wild bergamot, Virginia spiderwort, ground ivy and crown vetch might all be potential winners in this tough dirt.
Improve the Yard with Permanent Features
Another option would be to simply pave several substantial sections of the yard with decorative stone. These “islands” can be populated with potted plants hosting any variety of shrubs and flowers. Raised garden beds and planters accented with a charming white or red fence could instantly metamorphose the yard from homely to homey. Imagine George’s yard transformed into an outdoor living area like this:
Great hardscape features are another essential component when you have a hard-to-landscape yard. These provide a place to hang plants or grow vines (which can be rooted in pots to avoid the poor soil), and draw attention away from eyesore areas. For a yard this size, a diminutive pergola covering a swing or a table is an option.
Go on Vole Patrol
(cc license courtesy of Flickr user Ben Sutherland)
That vole may look cute and furry, but it is a pure evil eating and breeding machine that destroys everything in its path. Eric Ronning at “How to Get Rid of Things” offers these disturbing instructions for getting rid of a vole: Once you have the vole in hand, simply squeeze it until you hear the “pop”. Fortunately he does offer other options for vole control like habitat modification and baiting. George should probably get his vole problem dealt with before buying a bunch of new, tasty landscaping plants to tempt the little varmints with.