Sunday, September 13, 2015

My Troubles with Landscape Cloth: Part 2

It's been a little over ten years, and while my garden continues to evolve, the bulk of my original design has finally been executed. This year for the first time I faced maintaining the full expansive garden, and dare I admit this, especially to myself, I was having trouble coping with the workload.

Have I bitten off more than I can chew?

The fact that I used typed in the word "workload" is telling. Gardening is work, but it should be also be fun. Relaxing even. This summer gardening has felt too much like drudgery.

Something has to change to bring gardening back into the realm of enjoyable.

I began to consider eliminating a few flowerbeds, even though the thought of that was heartbreaking.
But when I really started to pause and examine what was demanding the most labor, I realized the garden itself wasn't the thing dragging me down. It is the network of pathways in the garden. This summer I swear I have spent more time weeding the paths than I spent weeding the flowerbeds!

Lets step back in time and see what has got me into this mess.

The very back part of the garden as it was when we moved in. 
This view shows only half the full length of the backyard.

When we moved in there were perennial gardens down the sides of the long, narrow lot and a circular herb garden at the back (which was more weeds than herbs).

It was really nice, but when you stood on the porch and looked down the long stretch of grass, the backyard as a whole, looked somewhat like a bowling alley.

Four years ago

To foreshorten the perspective and make the lot feel wider than it was, I designed a partial fence to obscure the view of the herb garden. In the centre of the fence, I created a doorway in the form of an arbor.

Through the new arbor there was a view of a traditional urn and a glimpse of the herb garden beyond. The area surrounding the herb garden became a gravel courtyard with an underlay of landscape cloth. When the instillation was complete, it was amazing how much wider the property looked.

A few years later came four raised beds for vegetables and herbs.

The area around the 4'x 7' raised beds was tight, so grass was not feasible. We installed landscape cloth and this time I wanted a softer covering, so went with natural cedar mulch.

Two years ago

In front and to the the right of the raised beds we created an area where we plan to build a little gazebo in the future. 

Again, we created a little courtyard by laying landscape cloth and covering it with pea gravel.

Very rough garden plan before and after 

Present day in late August.

Cimicifuga 'James Compton' has deep eggplant colored leaves, which my camera does not do justice.
The flower (seen below) smells like honey.

Hydrangea 'Little Lime'

A tall native plant called Ironweed. You can see it just behind the white bench.

Wild Bergamont or Monarda fistulosa

Agastache 'Blue Fortune'

Lobelia x speciosa 'Dark Crusader'

Phlox 'David's Lavender' in the afternoon sunshine.

The view from the back looking toward the house.


As you can imagine, we began to learn quite a lot about laying landscape cloth along the way. 

Too late, we began to realize its pitfalls....

I hate to do this, but I think I am going to have to send the rest into a Part 3, 
but I promise not to make you wait a full week to read it.


  1. This really does look like an enormous amount of work, Jennifer, but everything is so beautiful!
    I DO love those pathways, even though they are so hard to maintain. :-)

  2. I love how you created garden rooms, it has made your garden so much more interesting and very lovely. I know exactly how you feel about garden maintenance I am trying to take care of a 1/2 acre garden, I used to wish that it was I wish that it were smaller. Combined with our heat and drought it has become a very hard job, yet it is one I still enjoy...for how much longer, I don't know.

    I look forward to the next installment on landscape cloth.

  3. What a beautiful post. Your garden LOOKS relaxing, even if you don't find time to relax in it. Calm colors with just enough Rudbeckia to keep it lively. My garden continues to expand, yet I am finding it more than I can handle alone. I hired a young man to help dig holes, move big rocks, carry mounds of pine needles to the untamed area, and that has helped. I have plans for yet another bed for 15 - 20 new rose bushes with their accompanying companion plants next spring. What is wrong with me?! I do sit in the garden frequently because I have to. My back won't let me work without resting periodically. Yet, the thought of an early freeze is depressing. I resist giving up and putting my tools away. I buy plants that will have to wait until next year to be planted. However, I know I am not alone. Love your Ironweed and that monarda's soft color.

  4. I, too, realize that I took on a little bit too much. Not as much as you, but I have health issues & have decided this week that something has to go. Yes, it's sad, but it does have it's benefits. I want to spend more of my free time doing something besides trimming & weeding. You have a beautiful garden & you have to decide whether it's worth your time to maintain & keep it. Smaller gardens are beautiful & admirable also!

  5. You have such a lovely garden. Maybe wait until next year before you decide to start pulling things out. It could just be this year... I know I've been feeling the same way about all my house projects as well.

    I love what you've created!


  6. What a great job you have done creating a paradise! It is truly wonderful.

  7. Beautiful garden! I really made an effort to look for the mess but I could not find it!!! All the best from Sweden

  8. I have the same problem ! I removed a swath of grass behind the house because it was shaded and grass wasn't in good condition. I put down high quality landscape cloth and pea gravel with flagstones for walking on. I find weed seeds take root on top of the pea gravel. Although they are easy to pull it is time consuming.

  9. I've seen big changes in your garden Jennifer. I love the gazebo and very colorful flowers especially hydrangea, Rudbeckia and sun rays going through phlox!

  10. Sometimes maintaining our gardens does feel like work. But what heartache to rip any of it out. :( Yours is so beautiful!

  11. So beautiful, especially the final seating area...but yes, a lot of work. Am in the same place you are, thinking how to lighten the load. Gorgeous plantings Jennifer.

  12. Your garden is beautiful, Jennifer! I know what you mean about trying to lessen the workload. Ironically, I want to create a new flowerbed--I need to divide so many plants and I can't bear to give them away, so I'd like another place to put them. But my husband reminds me, do I really want to have more garden to maintain? Too bad there isn't a foolproof way to keep the weeds out.

  13. I adore your garden and it is wonderful to see the changes and plans...we are also faced with maintaining something that has gotten out of control and how to make it more workable.


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