Thursday, May 14, 2009

Landscaping - After

After a long delay in finishing the fencing portion of the landscaping renovation, I'm thrilled to share the transformation of the backyard. Without delay...

The feeder station adjacent to the patio, instead of poking from grass that became saturated with spilled seeds, sunflower shells, and other unpleasant detritus, is now surrounded by expanded curbing and wide, rich planting beds (thus reducing the grass area of the yard and giving more room for planting shrubs, trees, and flowers). These beds continue around the small tree, eliminating the problem of mowing around it without damage. The new feeders in this station include a hanging platform feeder with sunflower chips and nyger, a nyger sock with a seed hoop to catch spillage, and a larger capacity tube feeder with six feeding ports. There are two platform feeders on the patio, one of which has black oil sunflower seed and millet and the other with cracked corn and in-shell peanuts, and other tube feeders and a hanging hopper are forthcoming once I've secured more seed hoops.

Touring around the yard to the northwest, we find the October glory maple. Instead of standing lost in the yard, it is now anchoring one lobe of a curved triangular "bird bed" that will be home to multiple feeders. At the moment, all that is in this bed is a large hopper feeder filled with sunflower hearts and chips and its associated platform, but eventually there will be additional feeders branching off from the deeply sunk pole until the tree has matured enough to support hanging feeders. This bed actually has a double layer of weed control fabric (this fabric is now in all the planting beds), and I intend to only use zero-growth seed in the feeders here. You can also see, looking in the corner, that the fence is now level and even.

That takes us to the next point of view, the old cinderblock garden. It has been fully removed, replaced with wider curving planting beds and mulch. The grapevines are also gone, though I hope to replant a new one once we plan the different shrubs, bushes, and flowers for these beds. There are two features of this lengthy bed along the northern property line, however, that are specifically designed for the birds. The first concrete framed oval, in the foreground, is a dedicated birdseed garden. I've already planted more than a dozen sunflower seeds - saved from the plants I had last year - and some black-eyed susans that will hopefully flourish and provide a rich, natural food source for the birds. The second oval - barely visible at the other end - is slightly smaller, and is a dedicated dust bath that I am grooming to be fine and light for the birds to enjoy.

Our last turn, facing the driveway, takes us to what was a weed-choked flowerbed and thin mulch bed spilling onto the concrete. Now, as with the other planting beds, it is layered with weed control fabric and fresh mulch, and much wider than before. We've also added a low retaining wall along the driveway - our neighbor's property is slightly higher than ours - filled with topsoil and ready for planting with bird-friendly annuals.

I still have many plans for the yard. Next spring, after the underlying soil has richened, we will begin planting small trees, shrubs, and perennial flowers perfect for the birds. I am also working on a seasonal hummingbird feeding station for the patio, and there will eventually be a waterfall in the northwest corner of the planting beds. Still, this is a prosperous and exciting beginning, and already the birds are enjoying their new feeders and more delicious seed. The dust bath has been tried out, and the sunflower seeds are only today poking up in the birdseed garden. It is quite the beginning!


Jeff said...

You've now got the basis for a great yard there, Melissa. I look forward to seeing how it develops - and which birds you get.

My wife and I just got back from 5 days in SLC. Moost of our time went on family but I fitted in some good birding. I'm putting photos on:

Melissa said...

Thanks, Jeff! We're probably not going to plant anything this year, as there are a ton of weeds and such under the new bark that we want to decay and enrich the soil. That also gives us time to make sure we plant well.

I'm glad you were able to fit in some good birding in SLC; I was at the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival and had a marvelous time. If you ever get to the Provo/Orem area, let me know and I'll take you to some of my favorite spots!

-- Melissa

Jeff said...

Thanks for the offer.
Likewise, if you're ever in the Houston area ...