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rocks,sand,moss,and anything else you can think of

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May 07, 2013, 10:09 AM
rocks,sand,moss,and anything else you can think of
I have been in my home about 5 months now. The backyard had been fence off in sections, due to the fact previous home owners breeded husky dogs. On top they USE to have an above ground pool. Now that I have taken down all of the fencing, which ended up pulling up half the pavers around the deck and shed, I have a yard full of white rocks, a circle of sand where the pool was located and moss and black lining under the sand,rocks,etc. I am at a stand still. I just don't know where to start. HELP HELP.. Any suggestions wouldbe greatly appreciated.
May 07, 2013, 10:29 AM
First, how much time and money do you want to put into this project? What end result would you like? An entertaining area, an ornamental garden area, a vegetable garden area? A play area for children?

I would start by thinking about what you want in the short and long term, then work backward, possibly one area at a time.

The circle of sand is already laid out for a knot garden, if you're inclined to something that elaborate. If not, the white rocks could be used as dividers in a standard circle garden with a focal point such as a sun dial in the center. If you're an herb lover, you could enhance the soil and put in an herb garden. The possibilities here for a circular garden are endless, depending on the amount of time you have and your short and long term goals. Give me some ideas and I'll find some photos for you.

At any rate, save the rocks! You can always use them in landscaping.

I'm not clear on whether the sand is covering moss and the black plastic (?) lining. Could you clarify this? Also, if you have photos, that would greatly help.

As a gardener, I would literally beg for a yard full of white rocks. (If you're in Michigan, PM me and I'll come and get them!).

It would also help to know what climate zone you're in, as well as the approximate size of the yard.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
May 07, 2013, 11:03 AM
I would like more to entertain. I have a deck with a hot tub, would like a fire pit plus maybe a sitting area within the yard. I also have a little dog, majority of friends have dogs too so maybe a dog pen, this way the dogs has an area. I am not real big on anything that attracts bugs. I don't have a green thumb either. So I would prefer some easy upkeep items pertaining to plants and/or flowers. I tried to upload a photo. The picture by my name is basically the pix of the yard if you could see. The black lining seems to be up under the whole yard, the grass, sand, rocks, plus the moss seems to be mix in together within some places.
May 07, 2013, 12:25 PM
the black lining is probably landscape fabric, lets water (mostly) through but (mostly) stops weeds.

for what you want, you will need to shoot elevations to make sure you know how to regrade the yard so water runs away from the house. then you will need to rent a Bobcat and get a couple 6-yard dumpsters for fill material (not trash.) then you will need to scrape off a good 4-6 inches of your whatever in the yard and dumpster it. call your "one-call" free utility locating service to find and flag any known easements before any digging. the power/phone/gas/pipeline guys sue the schmucks who tear up their stuff for payment of the repairs. don't be that schmuck.

then you need to stake out the areas that will be lawn/garden, and those that will be patio/stonework. put fresh dirt (try to find an organic dirt supplier, that manure in it is perfect starter fertilizer) with the Bobcat in the lawn/garden areas and smooth it to the grade you shot. then you need to get some paver base (aka crusher run or decomposed granite, etc) and put that where the patio/stone is going. level that near grade... after compacting it, you need another inch or two of clean sand on top to set the pavers into, and the top of the pavers needs to be at the necessary grade and slope from your preliminary survey and grade shooting.

now you can do the completion work. get pros to run the power and gas to where you are putting the patio kitchen. screed and fix the paver base. compact it and recheck grade and level. pour any concrete after setting re-mesh, set any necessary posts, and put down the pavers. sod and plant the garden.

that's how you do a whole back yard. heavy and expensive work. start with a Black and Decker yard/garden book or similar to flesh out most of the details. bid it out if you prefer.

for most of us, we would be hand-digging garden areas and wheelbarrowing in dirt from where the truck dumped it, then next year running another feature, and the following year another, etc.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: swschrad,

sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
May 07, 2013, 07:49 PM
I wasn't able to enlarge your avatar enough to see the yard. I think I'd start the landscaping with small projects, and with whatever is a priority, perhaps a dog run and something to address the sandy area.

You will have to decide whether or not to leave the landscape fabric or remove it, which would be a big task.

From your first post, it sounds as though you're doing a lot of the work yourself. You might want to get some garden design magazines such as the ones published by Better Homes & Garden and Fine Gardening and see if you find anything that interests you. Other than the monumental prep work, it sounds as though you have a pretty clean slate from which to start, now that the pool and fence are out of the way.

One thing you'll need to do is observe the sun to determine which areas are in shade and/or sun, before you decide what to plant and where to have an entertainment area.

You could decide where you want the dog run, though, especially if you have a treed area where you know there will be shade. Decide how you want to separate it from the other areas and install a fence or other kind of divider.

If there's any lawn at all, you can always use that as a temporary entertainment area until you have time for something more extensive and/or permanent. Lawn chairs can easily suffice for awhile. Just hold off on the fire pit!

If you have any grass, use the clippings on the sandy area, and as Swschrad suggests, add good soil to blend in with the sand. If you compost, add that as well.

I can see two options for this round sandy area: an eventual entertainment circle, or a small garden of low maintenance plants.

You could use pavers or rocks around the exterior of the circle, and to form a pie if you go for a garden. Use pavers for the dividers so you can walk into the circle to water and/or weed.

You'll have to follow Swschrad's instructions if you want to use pavers in the circle for entertainment, allowing space for a fire pit whenever you get to that stage.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
May 08, 2013, 02:06 PM
Hi mschrisb,

When you tried to upload a picture to this site, it likely failed because your picture was too large to post. Posting an Image to this site has a limit of 100 Kb in size. If your photo is larger than this 100 Kb limit it can't be posted here.

An easier way to do it is to go to a free site which allows you to post pictures of any size. Then posts links here of the picture or pictures that we have posted on another site. Some of the free sites are and , though Picasa is a Free program by Google which you must download and install to use their site for storing pictures. You will need to create a Account and then you may post up to 1 Gb of pictures before they begin to charge you for your use. This free status may change in the future. Photobucket doesn't require any additional program to be installed on your system to use it, though you will need to create an Account which is Free to use it.

Another way to post your pictures here is to use a free program that re-sizes your photos to less than 100 Kb. A good Free program to do this is PictureGirdle. It comes in 2 versions. PictureCirdle 2.0 works with Windows XP and Vista. PictureGirdle works with Windows 7 and 8. Both will require that you use Windows Update and get a needed Update for Net Framework for your Operating System. Both versions of PictureGirdle are Free and available at the link below:

Some thoughts to consider.

As they say a picture is worth a 1000 words in explanation.

Good Luck!

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Simply_Me,
May 08, 2013, 05:22 PM
I uploaded some photos onto Same name mschrisb
May 08, 2013, 07:29 PM
Sorry, I wasn't able to get to your photo page. When I searched on your name, I only got "name not found." Could you provide a link to your photos? Thanks.
May 09, 2013, 06:43 AM
[IMG][/IMG]..... I hope I did the right...
May 09, 2013, 09:30 AM
Hi mschrisb,

That's quite a yard you have there, mschrisb.

The black plastic is under the sand, stone and possibly the bricks that are laid. Whether it is under the grass too is hard to say. It was laid to keep the sand and stone separate from the soil so you may be able to recover each and make a pile elsewhere in the yard to reuse it later in your project.

As to what to do first. I'd get rid of all scrap lumber that is lying around. Then spray the weeds to get them under control. Use a lawnmower and get the grass under control being careful to avoid the plastic and stones, etc.

You need to plan what you want in your yard and where you want it. By creating a whole yard layout so that various areas have a different use or plan, you can begin to fix up areas one at a time, but give careful consideration on what tools, equipment and materials you may need in all areas and list them in their specific area as you make your plan. This is needed because if you decide to bring in a backhoe or a bulldog you will need access to have it enter your yard and completing an area that interferes with this access really limits you. You may need power equipment to make it easier to move in topsoil or other materials you need to add to your yard rather than use a wheelbarrow from the front yard to the back.

If you find this task a problem, consider consulting a landscape architect, though it could be expensive. They can make suggestions and incorporate your desires into the various areas as well as tie each of them together in an manner that is appealing and practical. You might simply have him make several scale layout of your whole yard with all the areas shown and various suggestions as to plant choices and their locations. You might also ask him for a step by step plan to accomplish this design layout he has suggested. Once this is complete you could hire him to oversee the work or undertake it yourself in the order he has recommended.

Another way to do it would be if there is a community college nearby check if they offer courses in landscape architecture or other such courses. You could then speak with the instructor for that course and see if he has any students he would recommend that you could hire to make recommendations on what to do with your yard. You will need your list of what your would like in your yard and an idea of where. They in turn can lay out a design for each area and make plant recommendations based on your desires and needs. You might also hire him to do the work and work along side him.

These are just a few thoughts to consider.

Good Luck!
May 09, 2013, 09:48 AM
Thanks for the advice. .. ill keep in touch when I get a handle on things...
May 09, 2013, 10:26 AM
Mschrisb, don't got away just yet! I was finally able to get through the photos; for some reason I just couldn't get past a few and am still having trouble moving from one to the next.

Cute dog - is he/she a Jack Russell?

I see a LOT of potential in your yard, a real challenge but an exciting one. i could have a lot of fun with this.

First, in the photo following the dog, there's a semi-circle to the left. Is that where the pool was?

The brick is great and could be a temporary entertainment center while you're working on your short and long term plans. If not, don't discard it; it could be incorporated into your entertainment area.

I think you have some daffodils in the really grassy area...definitely some spring bulb foliage in there in the lower left corner. There are some plants on the right side that look like annual flowers but I can't recall which ones have foliage like that right now. Mints have foliage at 90 degree angles but those aren't mints.

I think you could try to get by with just mowing for the time being; there isn't that much heavy weed growth (compared to what I expected to see).

Another trick to kill weeds, if you don't mind the rather unattractive appearance, is to put plastic over them and solarize them. That might be a use for some of the black plastic. The heat will kill the plants and then all you have to do is rake them up and dispose of them. If you do try this, make sure the plastic doesn't cover anything worthwhile, like those spring bulbs.

SM gives good advice. I never thought about student landscaping help.

I do agree about the scrap lumber, which appears to also have some evergreen clippings, primarily because it can attract ants and is a good hiding place for little furry quadripeds that you might not want. In my area, a very strict code enforcement program prevents us from storing lumber or any building materials in our yards because "rats can hide in them." Code compliance might be an issue, so unless the lumber is worth saving, I too would get rid of it.

The semi-circle is a great place for a dramatic but low maintenance garden. I'll post later with some photos.

Photo showing the house on the left, fence to the right and lumber in front...the gravel makes an excellent spot for some temporary landscaping, easy plants like you prefer. Just set out container pots with low maintenance plants. Make sure there's a drainage hole, so the plants don't become waterlogged. That'll give you some quick color and site appeal.

It looks like some grass is coming back in what I think is the pool area. If you want to minimize the maintenance of this area, one trick that can be used is with the container plants...plant vines such as morning glory (unless they're invasive in your area), and let them grow across the grass. If there are containers periodically around the circle, channel the vines so they grow into the circle and cover it. Then you won't have to mow it, and the vines will kill the weeds. MGs don't require that much to grow and are basically no maintenance. At the end of the year, turn them under and they'll begin to enrich the soil.

What climate zone are you in (I'm not trying to be personal, just trying to get an idea of what low maintenance plants would be appropriate)?

One thing I would think about - the photo showing what I believe is a back fence with a lot of tree growth shows green growth on the fence. I think there's a moisture issue there, so I wouldn't plan on planting anything there just yet.

Back later with some suggestions for the pool area.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
May 09, 2013, 11:11 AM
Yes jack mixed... she is about 7 yrs of age. As you see is running her favorite thing she likes to do. There is a pathway there do to her exercise lol.
May 15, 2013, 12:34 PM
Ok sorry haven't been here in a while I work 50+ hours a week. But starting to get the debris out of the yard. Starting to work on the front yard now. Have a lot of dirt. Pulled up a bush because blocking the window. So to keep it simple pulling some of white rocks from the back to put up under the Window then grow some grass. I will post some pictures and add the link...
May 15, 2013, 12:48 PM
Here is my front yard needs help too but not as bad as the backyard.
May 15, 2013, 07:58 PM
Looks like you've done a lot of work. Thanks for stopping by with an update.
May 20, 2013, 06:36 AM
Well starting to look like something... need some color bad lol... its a start
May 20, 2013, 09:46 AM
Originally posted by GardenSprite:
Wow! You've really done a lot of work and the yard is cleaned up nicely.

I see a nice shade garden in the triangular area between the walk and the graveled area. Outlined by rocks or bricks, it will pick up the color of the house brick and extend it into the garden and tie it into the beautiful Japanese maple by the corner of the house.

If this area gets shade all day, coleus would provide some instant color; they'd be on sale at garden centers now. You could just put them in nice lightweight containers if the soil in that area isn't good enough to plant now.

A mixture of red, beige and green coleus would look well in that area.

The photo in paragraph 4 here shows a lovely and cooling combination of coleus with spikes.

There's also a nice spot to the right of the door for a bright container planting; that will provide some instant color as well.

Thanks for sharing; it's really nice to see updates.

May 20, 2013, 11:07 AM
Thanks will look into that
Jun 01, 2013, 06:35 PM
So the front yard is coming along ok... We planted grass seed and they started growing but in spots, so we found some sod on sale so we are hoping this works out. But overall this is where I'm at right now