Wednesday, February 6, 2008

a new garden?

Okay, I'm kind of psyched. Some blogs I've visited lately have been showing garden photos from last year - instead of snow, snow and more snow - and quite a few gardeners are thinking about plans for this spring. Thank you - started me thinking about my own garden plans!

One area I would really like to do some major revamping is our driveway. We live on a narrow dead-end street that would probably qualify as an alley. Parking is at a premium. But what I've noticed for us is that we need tons of parking only 2 or 3 times a year. Wouldn't it be easier to arrange the parking we need for those 2 or 3 times instead of having this huge open (and might I add, ugly) driveway along the street?

When we first moved into this house, the gravel area you see in the above photo was a grassy area that was about 18-24 inches lower than the street. It's enclosed with a cement retaining wall that runs along the street and back to the garage. When our sons started driving we filled in that lawn area to enlarge the driveway. It was a good choice - for years we really needed all that room for cars. But I'm thinking it's time to make it look pretty and more inviting again.

We still need room for cars and boats and utility trailers in the driveway, but I'm thinking maybe I could dig up a portion of the driveway along the street and fill it in with good black dirt and plant a pretty little boulevard garden. I'm thinking about tall ornamental grasses with shorter plants in front (toward the street) - and, oh yes, a couple of nice rocks to hopefully keep people from driving through my lovely new garden. We would still have room for the utility trailer and to store a boat in the winter. The trailer would be at least partially screened from the street, which I'm sure would make some of our neighbors happier. And our kitchen door and patio area would be partially screened from their view. I'm thinking lots of happier people!!

So, this is where you all come in. Our street isn't as heavily sanded and salted in the winter as a lot of places, but we still get a fair amount. I'll need to plant things that are fairly salt tolerant - both from salt spray and salt in the soil. So far my research has led me to believe that Karl Foerster reed grass is the perfect solution for the screening part. Have any of you grown the Karl Foerster? I'm also looking for shorter plants to fill in around the rocks and in front of the grass. If any of you have suggestions - for tall or shorter plants - I'd love to hear them.

There are lots of primary roads in the Cities that have beautiful plantings, so I can do some research here also and see what cities and counties have chosen for their salt-tolerant plantings. I'm so excited about this! Keep your fingers crossed that I can come up with a plan that both Mark and the city will approve!! An added plus is that I really like ornamental grasses - but can't have them in the main gardens because Kobie eats them - I mean eats them to the ground on a regular basis. This would be an area that he doesn't get to visit without supervision. Gosh, it's beginning to feel like spring! :)

9 comments:

kate said...

I just picked up a book at the library, Gardening w/ grasses. I'll read it with your area here in mind. I think it would look much better with plants than it does now. It looks a little barren ... and besides, what fun it would be to have a new place to dig & to plant!

Trailhead said...

Kobie eats them - I mean eats them to the ground on a regular basis.

Hee. I wonder why that is. Do they have some sort of canine intoxicant in them?

Kitt said...

Great idea! I love Karl Foerster grass, but I have no idea how it would do there. I wonder if there's a Minnesota Cooperative Extension that would have info on good streetside plantings.

I've had success with spireas and salvias along the street, and irises. Some dwarf evergreens might be nice, too, for winter screening.

Greenie Gardens said...

I've just been catching up on your blog this morning. Kobe is sooo cute. I really have a soft spot for black poodles. I once had a toy- they are too smart! I've been baking bread out of that Artisan Bread in Minutes a Day but using the Cook's Illustraited Dutch oven technique. Sounds like you're using parchment paper to stop the stickiness too. That Ziti recipe is right up my alley. I've got to give it a try with some of that fresh baked bread. Lastly, I, too, am into cataloques and wishing. I like your front yard idea. Sadly, I know nothing about grasses. I think some rugosa roses are pretty tough though, so many are grown near the ocean but it looks a bit shady. We are growing burning bushes by the road here to make a hedge. So far so good, they're still babies! Can't wait to see what you come up with. Take care and stay warm!

Toni said...

Kris,

Spring is coming Spring is coming...thats all i can think..I cant wait to see what you do in the driveway..i love you grasses down by the lake...so i bet they would be pretty there...

Lake Michigamme usually loses its ice around May 1st...so we have a while to see the ice...
Keep warm...Toni

Me said...

It will be fun to see what you decide. I can't seem to get in the mood yet...too much white stuff on the ground.

Giddy said...

I have several clumps of Karl Forster and they do beautifully every year. I also have to agree with the Rugosa roses as they tolerate salt very well, but beware, they can become agressive! Rudbeckia does well too.

Sally said...

Kris - Another idea would be to use a slight raised bed along the drive for your plants. That would keep some of the salt away from them. I love the Stella De Oro daylillies and use them in my country club planter. They are extremely hardy and have beautiful bright yellow flowers in the summer. Can't wait to see what you will do!

violetlady said...

Just checking in, Kris. Great pix of the poodles. I love ornamental grasses, too. A berm with grasses along the street is a nice idea.