White “Moon” Garden
For three seasons the homeowner had diligently over-seeded the area using the proper methods and seeds but was unable to get grass to grow. Given the effort put into the lawn, we looked deeper at the ground below the sod and determined that poor site preparation was the primary reason for failure.
Turf grass needs just four things to flourish: sunlight, air, water and nutrients. Grass obtains three of these four essential elements from the soil. After this home was built and prior to landscaping, the site had not been cleared of rocks, stone and tree stumps. There was far less than the optimal soil depth of 4-6 inches of soil for the sod to grow healthy roots. In the middle of the yard, a large tree had been cut to the soil level. The 32 inch diameter surface was topped with a grass sod without any soil base for the roots to become established in.
On the right side of the image, goutweed can be seen coming under the fence from the neighbors’ yard. Goutweed is an invasive species that left unattended will spread quickly, out-compete other plants and create a monoculture. It spreads underground using rhizomes, tracks the roots of other plants and comes to the surface where it uses sunlight to strengthen and produce white blooms that spread seeds and further enable it to spread.
Found on Halifax’s invasive species list, goutweed is very difficult to control and it is one of the most common garden challenges we encounter on the Halifax peninsula.
The homeowners wanted a sophisticated, lush garden and a solution to address the lawn without excavating the rocky substrate and installing a new lawn. THE SHE SHED recommended extending the garden out such that it would replace the rear lawn with a new no-mow, low maintenance and beautiful all-white “moon garden”.
The lawn was removed, the garden beds weeded, a barrier placed along the fence line to prevent the continued invasion of the goutweed and high quality geo-textile fabric was installed to reduce future maintenance needs.
The new garden maximizes full sun exposure with romantic white peony, fragrant mock orange shrubs, peach leaf bell flower, anemone and other white flowering perennials that will bloom throughout the season. The perimeter was framed with ornamental grass that will mature at an eye-catching 5 feet with wispy blooms and white ribbed foliage that will move beautifully in wind
The existing white margin hosta and evergreen yews were retained and incorporated into the new design. The garden is accessed by a natural flagstone pathway settled in bark mulch with a rugged architectural texture. The cedar-toned chunky mulch adds dimension, holds moisture and its color unifies the home and garden by coordinating with the cedar trim of the house and playhouse.
The middle and right side of the garden are quite shady under mature deciduous trees that offer structure and interesting textured bark. The line of evergreen yews lacked impact and interest while the other green plant was goutweed spreading from a neighbors’ property.
Goutweed is one of the most common garden-related problems we encounter. Left unattended, it will continue to spread and create a mono-culture by out-competing other plants in the garden.
The existing yews were healthy and useful for replanting in the new design where they provide year round, evergreen interest. Shade tolerant shrubs including white flowering rhododendron, pristine white mountain laurel and dwarf hydrangea will brighten the view from the outdoor entertainment deck adjoining the home. Japanese forest grass and white margin hosta perennials were repeated to bring a cohesive flow across the entire rear garden.
The architectural appearance and color of the cedar-toned chunky bark mulch gives a polished look that complements the stunning contemporary design of the stone and cedar-accented home.
A beautifully designed front garden welcomes, shows pride of home ownership, reflects the style and taste of the homeowners and increases the value of the property.
The cost of a newly constructed homes includes landscaping although the focus is often on hardscaping and lawns. Often, little thought is given to the design or ornamental qualities of the planting. In this case, an unimaginative planting of 10 evergreen shrubs in the front yard. Over half of the shrubs are cedars which are unsuited to Nova Scotia’s soil pH making them a poor long-term choice.
It is our practice to salvage healthy plants if possible. We liked the round shape of the low growing evergreen cedars and planted them in tall planters at the entrance to the house.
The existing planting was easily removed from a shallow soil and rock base. As the bed was excavated, it became evident that improper site preparation was the primary reason why the client was unable to grow a thick, healthy lawn. Once rocky fill and grade A gravel was removed from the bed and replaced with fresh soil, organic blueberry compost and bone meal, the bed was ready to provide a healthy, nutritious environment for a new mixed planting including a specimen tree, ornamental grass and flowering perennials..
A new organic shape was designed for this full-sun bed. The spacious yard was perfect for a dogwood tree that will bloom profusely with fragrant bracts in spring. Sun-tolerant, variegated leaf hosta and repeated white flowering perennials were planted around the base.
The bed was crisply edged and mulched with a heavy texture, cedar-toned mulch that matched the color and contemporary architecture of the home.
The foundation garden bed was a basic rectangle planted with cedar, evergreen holly, false cypress and yew. The effect was monotonous, uninspiring and detracted from the beautifully designed home. Cedars are unsuited to Nova Scotia’s soil pH making one shrub a candidate for removal. Further, two of the four the holly shrubs were unhealthy due to poor soil preparation.
THE SHE SHED created a romantic new garden planting that incorporated the existing evergreen false cypress and the healthiest of the holly shrubs. We extended the garden bed along the entrance to make a stronger visual statement. The planting included a gorgeous white rose standard and white flowering perennials including towering delphiniums that will delight the home owner and attract pollinators to the garden.
This stunning garden will fill in as it matures providing verdant blooms, lush green shrubs and textured perennial leaves while ornamental grass will move beautifully in the wind. The chunky cedar-toned mulch complements the garage door on the right side of the home while white blooms contrast beautifully against the natural gray stone exterior.
The homeowner was frustrated that he was unable to grow grass after three seasons of repeated over-seeding and care.
Amy and Olivia remove a thin layer of sod to expose a tree stump nearly three feet in diameter. Site preparation was inadequate with rock, stone, insufficient soil and the tree stump which had been cut to grade and topped with a sod.
Failure to properly prepare a site and improve the soil before planting will result in a greater and continued investment of time and money that will never produce as positive a return on investment as preparing the site properly at the onset.
THE SHE SHED visits up to nine nurseries weekly to hand pick the healthiest and most beautiful trees, shrubs, grasses and perennials available.
Hard-working and talented, Joy is a member of the crew responsible for the careful placement and planting of nursery material used to create beautiful, bespoke gardens.
Location: South End, Halifax
Price Range: $7,500 - $10,000
Client Goals: New Garden
A recently-transplanted South American family dreamed of the lush gardens of their native county while facing the disappointing de-facto builder’s yard of their striking new home.
After two years of effort, the lawn was largely dead, the sparsely-planted garden beds lacked interest and an invasive weed species was invading the back garden bed.
The client’s goals included recommendations on the lawn and a prolific garden that would brighten shady corners and be brilliant set against the contemporary gray, black and cedar-accented exterior of their beautiful stone home.