Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Salon scaping

Behind Michael's salon, between his parking lot and an adjacent lot, lies a "hell strip" that is anywhere from 60 - 80 feet long and about 10 feet wide. The strip is city-owned but abandoned. No one kept the Johnson grass and weeds mowed so we attempted to do it ourselves (or rather I did). This got old fast and if you know me, you know that mowing is not my favorite activity anyway. So, I started landscaping it.



The area is in full blazing sun, surrounded on both sides by asphalt and the soil was terrible. I started planting roses, daylilies, iris and any leftover plants from our own garden plus anything I came across that was on sale at the nurseries. At first I thought it was going to be a hopeless disaster. I didn't have time to keep up with the weeds or water. A yearly application of leaf mulch helped but the Johnson grass and ground ivy was hard to keep under control.



As with our own garden, the plan started taking shape after a while. I had been sowing seeds of annuals like larkspur and love-in-a-mist because the seeds were cheap and it was a way to have flowers that we couldn't grow well at home. Pretty but because of the weeds, not practical. Michael suggested that I just stick to large shrubs and he was right.



One fall, I bought four River Birch trees on sale at Lowe's and added oakleaf hydrangea, ornamental grasses, buddleia and Michael's favorite crape myrtle 'Dynamite'.

Neither of us can remember when we started planting but this year, it seems like it is finally a worthwhile project. We're amazed at how things have grown since last year! I haven't had time to get the weeds under control this year until this week and I've spent the past two days weeding and spreading mulch. The good news is that the weeds are not that bad except on the end where the smaller plants like daylilies and iris are planted. The larger shrubs are keeping the weeds in check nicely.



Another hassle to contend with is a large wooded lot next door with a dead tree that keeps dropping limbs. Michael called the city about it but they would not cut it because it isn't their property. Another big limb just fell about a month ago and landed right in the border. It broke some of the Knockout roses but the damage wasn't too bad. I took the fallen limbs and used them as accents.

I would love to landscape more around the salon (like I don't have enough to do!) but the previous owner covered every square inch of the property in asphalt! Talk about no mowing!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

26 comments:

  1. Phillip, that is absolutely beautiful! I would have that in my backyard! The neighbors must love you!

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  2. What a beautiful transformation!

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  3. The city owes you an award for this one! If everyone had your attitude, the world would be a better place. I am a huge fan of colorful shrubs where perennials or annuals may be too labor intensive, and your salon scape is gorgeous.

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  4. This is a lovely urban oasis. Talk about making do with what you have. It is lovely.

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  5. Maybe you can take solace in considering that the trees in the woodlot, dead and alive, offer habitat for birds.

    Besides, the fallen branches really do look poetic.

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  6. I agree with debsgarden! The city owes you something. Doing this kind of work does make the world a better place too! Many folks must smile when they see this during their daily routine. Makes me smile too...

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  7. This is one hellofa strip. WOW. This is inspiration for anyone with a similar situation. I like the way it blocks the view of the mall behind it. A little piece of paradise in the asphalt desert.

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  8. Beautiful work Phillip. The River Birches look so fresh and lacy and the flowers are gorgeous. The arranged fallen branch is just the right touch.

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  9. What a transformation I am sure! Seeing the cars through the garden you have planted is telling... what a joy for clients to see your garden instead! Shrubs are great for growing where weeds dominate... yours are lovely Phillip. I hope the falling branches do not do much harm... I like how you have made use of them in such a positive way. Yes, I suppose asphalt is one answer to mowing! Even that would kill bishops weed! ;>)

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  10. Spreading beauty is wonderful and it looks great, what a joy for Michael to see every day.

    Sandy

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  11. It's just beautiful..you can do container gardening around the salon...

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  12. It's a wonderfully beautiful area... you've done a service to all who pass by. I actually have a 'view corner' that I've kept landscaped for close to 40 years... owned by the county, they offered to sell to us, but my thought was, why have to pay taxes?! Larry

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  13. Phillip, great job. Your project turned out perfectly. I really feel strongly about projects like this one. It has always seemed to me that a business shows its respect and appreciation for the community by keeping their property attractive so that customers and neighbors can enjoy it. A business that has no pride and just takes from the community without giving back or showing respect is not something anyone needs.

    You are great neighbors. Hope others in the area follow your lead.
    Marnie

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  14. It really looks wonderful...Few people have such beautiful borders in their own yards, and you have taken it upon yourself to beautify city property. I really wish more people showed this kind of initiative to make our world more beautiful.

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  15. Well, that's the best looking hell strip I've ever seen. The large shrubs are such nice accents against the River birch. Nice Phillip. What did we ever do before knockouts came calling for place such as these?~~Dee

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  16. Fantastic, Phillip. Good tip about using shrubs instead of flowers to keep the weeds down.

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  17. A Vast improvement I'm sure.

    You ever heard of 'Gorilla' gardening where people go and plant up neglected public spaces. Not exactly the same but it made me think of it

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  18. Gorgeous, Phillip! What a creative solution to those hell strips. Because it's between parking areas, you didn't have to worry about sight lines - well, yes you did but in a different way than usual!

    Barbara H.

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  19. Phillip~You've done a great job....I always notice and appreciate the plantings where ever I go~I expect Michael's clients do, too. gail

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  20. It's so beautiful! I love your pictures and use them for my desktop background at work a lot.

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  21. Beautiful! I totally adore it! I wish I can have something like that at home.

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  22. You obviously have the magic touch!

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  23. This is fantastic, and seems so simple. Why can't more hell strips be like this? And wildlife would like it too, if only to have scattered islands of refuge here and there.

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  24. You are a very busy person but I tell you that strip now shows all your hard work and is a testament to you! It is beautiful!

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  25. What a thing of beauty. Love the downed branch. Looks perfect.

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