Since we have a 5-month old baby, and both work full-time jobs – we do not have much spare time. We are not rolling in spare cash either – so instead of hiring a landscape design company, we had to do everything ourselves. We asked around and did online research on how to kill our lawn, what kind of mulch to use, best native plants for small site like ours, irrigation for the native plants…. Every front yard is different, because the direction of the house (ours is North facing), trees and structures around, neighborhood you live in, all combine to create a unique micro-climate.
Even within a few miles the soil may change dramatically. For years my parents (living in Torrance a few miles north from us) struggled planting even tiny plugs of plants in their soil – it was so compacted that to plant even a 1-gallon annual, they had to both whack at the soil with heavy-duty pick-axes (keeping a sharp eye out for toes and other soft parts). They have three pick-axes in their garage just to help them plant pansies and other Home Depot offerings. Recently they found out that their sub-division was part of an old airport that was cleared to make even more tract housing. Mystery of why their tomatoes keep failing – cleared. You can now stop pouring gallons of fertilizer on your plants wearing knee high Yorkshire-farmer boots, Dad. The soil is to blame.Not so Long beach.
Our soil is lovely – sandy, soft, humusy – you could almost eat it! And the climate is temparate – not extreme like Encino. And we also get to avoid the cold mist that rolls in every evening in Torrance without fail.
The decision to supplant the grass with the natives was an easy one. The question was – how to get the grass wiped off efficiently and cheaply. In the end, we found a gardener who could do it for a price that we both agreed on was fair (it wasn’t cheap). He rented a sod-cutter at the local Home Depot. See results below.
A very bald yard
Beloved tract-house looms over yard
We also did research online for landscape fabric, landscape pins and gravel (ok, I’ll be honest – my husband did the research and the contacting – but I did do the research on the plants, the fun part). The landscape fabric quality we found online was better quality than most local home improvement stores, but it did cost a bit to ship. But, splurging on landscape fabric is important to prevent an army of weeds coming up when the plants are not fully established yet. Gravel delivery also cost more than the gravel itself, but it was worth getting it all in one shot rather than ferrying it back and forth many times from the store.
See the delivery in our drive-way below:
Today, the gardener has come to install the fabric and the gravel…
I feel that the hardest part – prepping for our wonderful palette of plants – is done. If only I had unlimited funds to buy all the plants I want at the nursery, and a few thousand feet more for the extra space 🙂