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New Project: Backyard Mini-Meadow

One of the things I’ve felt guilty about is that, with how our house & lot is set up, our backyard is just basically a concrete dog run.  Actually, I don’t feel guilty about that, that’s just how it is. But it is where Rigel goes out to go to the bathroom.

(ETA pic, and boy does that look dismal when seen in a photo!)

What I worry about is that we have to hose it down daily, which creates multiple problems:

  1. waste of water
  2. run off of dog waste into the street (into the drains, into the ocean  (in which I swim, though it’s not just about me))
  3. run off of anything we use to clean the concrete (into the drains, into the ocean, yadda yadda)
  4. odor that lingers even after rinsing, cleaning and scrubbing
  5. run off under our fence into our (new) neighbor’s side yard (and, apparently, under his house — the old neighbors, even when we asked if all was okay, either hadn’t noticed or cared)

Because of #5 (which we just found out Saturday) we’re sharing the cost of a new concrete/masonry fence between our two properties, which should stop the run off into our neighbor’s property.  The old/ current fence is very old & rickety and has a lot of termite damage;  replacing it was going to happen sooner or later.

However, problems 1-4 are still an issue.

I’ve thought for a long time about breaking up the concrete  and putting in a combo of plants & flagstones, something that will be more permeable to mitigate all the run off issues.

Problems inherent in this:

  1. ripping out the concrete
  2. identifying native plants that do okay in mostly shade and can handle a bit more water that can tolerate dog urine

Hopefully we can have Daniel, who is going to do the fence, break up the concrete.  We can reuse the concrete for the walls of raised beds for veggies (I’ve been planning on making a couple more raised beds near the fruit trees anyway).

I emailed Bert as Las Pilitas (info included our zip, location re: the beach, amount of watering, guestimate on the soil type, mostly shade, dog urine — Las Pilitas has a fantastic garden planning program that uses all that info except the dog urine issue), who got right back to me with the following advice and plant list:

ok, you’ll probably have to use that much water to mitigate the urine on the plants, that’s called a marsh or pond, it would actually look more like a meadow.  Leave some of the concrete to give the dogs ‘steps’ between the plants.  Bidens, Lobelia(s) (another here), Yarrow, Mimulus cardinalis, a Bird bath, Danthonia californica (the dogs will love it), Elymnus tricicoides (dogs love), Zauschneria ‘Mattole River,  and maybe Fragaria californica.  A small wetland for the birds and dogs, and you can ignore some of the mess as the plants will ‘eat it up’

We have plenty of flagstones in the front that we can move to the back, and have been wanting a bird bath/ fountain.  Las Pilitas has a lot of those plants available through their online store, so we could order & plant as soon as we get concrete plans to rip out the concrete (hah).

I’ve also emailed Tree of Life but haven’t heard back, and have yet to check with Theodore Payne.

Speaking of Theodore Payne — we’re going to be on the garden tour next year, woo hoo!  I’ve been wanting to participate and we couldn’t last year because it was the same time as spring break.


November 2008 Goals


  • Finish Dave’s Scarf
  • Finish the other major knitted Christmas present
  • Finish embroidery on Slinky Ribs (otherwise finished & blocked)
  • Finish Gathered Pullover (I’m just finishing up the center motif, working top down)
  • Finish washing merino
  • Finish yak dehairing
  • Finish carding BFL
  • Card yak
  • Finish the other major knitted Christmas present

Home stuff

  • plant rest of wildflower seeds
  • plant native bulbs
  • harvest as needed
  • set up fountain

Solar Panels

Well, they’re up, but there’s still a few more inspections etc to go before they’re running.

solar panels

solar panels

More views on flickr.

Other stuff that happened Friday:

Shade Garden without Oleanders

Shade Garden without Oleanders

The oleanders are finally gone!  We planted two Ceanothus ‘Ray Hartman’, one Ceanothus ‘Cynthia Postan’, and two Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyons) in their place.  We also bought a few more plants for different areas of the yard.


Alpaca Daze

We’re going to see alpacas Saturday!  Despite my best attempts at convincing other friends to come along (i.e. bribes of lots of winetasting), it’s just going to be me and Dave this weekend, heading up to Santa Ynez for the day.

For alpacas, I’m planning on visiting Silver Sun Alpacas and Ranch of the Oaks.  Any others will be catch as catch can.

For wine, Zaca Mesa & Andrew Murray (we’re members of both), maybe Consilience (I have a free tasting card somewhere), Melville and ?  Sanford?  Mosby?  Any recommendations?

Bungalow & Garden news:

The solar panels go in Monday!

The oleanders go away a week from this Friday!  Natives will go in that weekend or the next.  Theodore Payne is having sales the 1st two weekends in October;  I think Tree of Life is as well.

The lettuce bin is doing well.  The carrot/celery bin has sprouting seeds.  A few of the tomatoes are still producing.  Major planting of fall/winter seeds is due.

Bathroom is on the backburner, tentative plans to start the kitchen cabinets Monday.  I’m hoping to order curtain hardware tonight so we can put up something while waiting for the real curtains (which we still have to decide upon as well).

Knitting & Spinning:

No spinning, but work continues on the different Christmas presents.  I did cast on for Cleopatra with the Granite Falls Sundara;  I’m about 2/3 through the first chart.

Sundara Silk Lace Granite Falls

Sundara Silk Lace Granite Falls