Because we decided to keep the sidewalk and the front steps, the next biggest concern was how to get the house to look balanced even though we live on a sloping hill. Like a wonderbra, we needed to fake it but make it look legit. We also needed to make sure that the ground would be graded to allow for proper waterflow.
Taking into account the fact that water is our house's numero uno enemy, we made sure that any aqua would flow far away from the house. Water can not only cause damage to the plants and cause pesky mosquitos but can actually grow mold inside your walls, ruin basements, create foundation problems, not to mention create thousands of dollars worth of damage to your exterior. If you have a problem with standing water or rain accumulating next to your home, I would recommend looking into a solution such as installing a french drain, regrading your yard, upgrading or reworking your gutters or talking to a professional about ways to improve your drainage system.
As you can see in the photo above, we reallocated some soil to ensure that the flow of any rainwater would be ushered away from the house.
In terms of leveling the ground, we had a great reference point of what is level....the bricks on the side of our house. We just chose a brick and made sure the soil was even across that line. But maybe you don't have a brick line like us...there are ways to make sure you still get an flat yard.
Use two sticks, some string and a level to create your own reference point. If you aren't bringing in any fill dirt or topsoil, set the string lower to the actual level of the current ground and rake or shovel till even.
Next we laid out our plants in their general zones. This was to help us identify different sections...we like to work in little sections at a time...sometimes the smaller parts are easier to conquer than the whole thing. And it doesn't mean that you aren't producing quality goods. Just ask Julia Dreyfus...dude, she has awards out the wazoo and what has she done except Seinfeld?
Anyhoo. After we decided what section to do first, we poured out some yummy garden soil. Yes, we bought ours. No, we don't have a compost pile. Yes, you have the freedom to judge us right now.
After it was raked evenly along the area, it is time to turn the bed. We grabbed a few shovels and got to mixing. Basically you can till the soil yourself by thoroughly mixing the amended soil with the surrounding area of dirt. Just mix, mix, mix.
After we mixed our old and new, we leveled out the soil once more. We also walked all over it to make sure it was compacted enough so that the next rain wouldn't wash our hardwork away.
Oh and one more tip for ya...see that blue bucket in the photo above? Yeah. That is the handy dandy do-it-all bucket. You'll find that a pail can be quite helpful in any project...this time, this little baby was my weed/rock/stick/root holder. I kept it next to me pretty much at all times. Like a sweater, this bucket had my back :)
So there you have it...more gardening...did you guys take advantage of the weekend by spending it outside? Have you started your flower-plans? Do tell...and like my blue bucket of fun, share any tips you have for beginners....heaven knows I need all the help I can get!