Blue Castle Garden: Year 3

In 2007, garden construction finally began. The primary focus of this year was laying down sod, planting the front yard tree and partially enclosing the yard with a fence. 

Another milestone was the completion of the retaining wall, resolving the grade issue with my neighbor. For kicks, I also dabbled in vegetable gardening with great results.

 ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Laid Front Yard Sod

Laying sod instead of sowing grass seed avoided several years of constant watering, weeding and reseeding. What astonished me was how quickly the sod knit together into a healthy lawn with just basic care. 

A strip was left unsodded where my neighbor would later install her stone retaining wall. 

Newly sodded lawn looking vibrant and lush after only 6 weeks. 

Planted Front Yard Tree

After planting the new Russian Olive tree, it was staked and wrapped with plastic pipe to protect it from wildlife damage. A ring of grass was cut away to allow adequate water to reach the young roots. This tree took a few years to take off, then surprisingly died in Year 7.

The Russian Olive tree the day it was planted (left) then six weeks later (right). 

Installed Wooden Retaining Wall

To solve the grade problem between our lots, my neighbor’s builder constructed a treated wooden retaining wall with 4×6 posts and 2×6 horizontal boards. 

Years later, when some posts began to lean, it became evident the work had been done poorly. This required rebuilding sections of the retaining wall in Year 10. 

The smaller stub posts were installed by my dad to reinforce the wall and prevent bulging. 

The retaining wall extended almost the entire length of the lot. 

Constructed North Fence

Working with my neighbor, we constructed the north fence. To cut down on hard physical labor, we had the post holes professionally drilled. While we installed posts for the west fence, the boards were added the following year. 

My dad and brother leveling fence posts before they were tamped in.

We also installed posts for the future gate arbor.

CHALLENGES

Wet Construction Year

Due to excessive rain, construction was difficult and dirty. Post holes filled with water overnight and mud caked everything.

My neighbor working on the fence in the midst of mud and water. 

DISCOVERIES

Repurposing Construction Materials

Unwanted construction materials can be repurposed with some thought. A gravel parking pad installed by the builder was a source of material for many construction projects.

Already half of the gravel pad was being utilized in the storage area.

Temporary Gardens Can Grow Food

Eager to garden, but without a completed fence, I grew a box of seed potatoes for fun. Many of my coworkers appreciated the bumper crop.

Rocky clay soil is not ideal for smooth, perfect potatoes but they still tasted great.

REFLECTIONS

The season started slowly but ended on a high note. It was a relief to finally have the grade issue resolved, the property partially enclosed and looking less like a construction zone. 

It really began to hit home with the potatoes. Dirt can grow things! Likewise, it was enlightening to observe and participate in physical construction instead of only designing in 3D like at work. 

This post is part of the Blue Castle Garden Timeline series. 

About Jolene

I’m an avid gardener whose mission is to bring more beauty into the world. I believe that with the right information anyone can create their own lovely, small garden paradise.

When I’m not gardening you can find me exploring the Canadian Rockies. Learn more…

Jolene Rempel on Cirque Peak, Banff National Park.

About Jolene

I’m an avid gardener whose mission is to bring more beauty into the world. I believe that with the right information anyone can create their own lovely, small garden paradise.

When I’m not gardening you can find me exploring the Canadian Rockies. Learn more…

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