What we found under the juniper was a thicket of matted, decaying pine needles over a layer of river rock. You can read more about our attempts to remove the river rock here and here. And while we removed a lot of river rock, there was so much more. Tree roots, juniper roots, and gravel - tons of it layered over black landscape plastic. So we did the only thing we could do at the time, dig a few holes, plop a few plants in and hope for the best until we could revisit the project this year. Seriously, we had lots of other projects to tackle!
Scott, over the years, has told me about renovations to the exterior of the Gray Street house in St. Charles, IL where he scrapped, replaced and repainted the shingles of the house. And he explained that as the job continued, for what must have felt like forever, he became more and more picky about the process and critical of the results. Scott hasn’t changed much.
We resumed the fight this year starting at the top of the driveway by the garage, determined to remove more river rock from the garden. We steel raked as much rock as we could to the driveway and then moved to the adjacent tree. Scott quickly realized that the tree was bound by black landscape plastic. Working to free the tree from the plastic, he dug underneath five inches of gravel, moving it to the driveway and establishing a new goal for the project...free the trees and rid the garden of all gravel and landscape plastic. Sigh.
Encouraged, Scott moved on to the second tree. Soil, air and water starved, he removed the plastic from the second tree and the surrounding area. Hopefully what we are doing is good for the trees.
As the summer heat set in, Scott and I took a break from digging out the gravel and rock. In September when the heat broke we were reinvigorated and ready to set a goal, remove all the landscape plastic, gravel and river rock from the second tree area all the way to the street by October 1st. Yes, we’re nuts. We set to the task early in September and kept at it though the month. Releasing the last tree from plastic, digging out numerous trunks and roots from the junipers that used to be there. We sifted more gravel and river rock, added new topsoil. Finally, we were able to finish the irrigation system to the plants and lay down mulch. The final touch!
A year later than we thought, we finally finished the front garden project, on September 30th, minutes before Scott left on a business trip. A week later, Scott has been digging in the parkway area between our driveway and the neighbors driveway. Another project, for another blog.