Solution for sides of the house, with grass dying

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by jacksparrow, Jun 21, 2007.

  1. jacksparrow

    jacksparrow Active Member

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    What do you guys think of doing pea gravel on the sides of the house that is not getting sun, and drying up?


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    We planted trees behind the railing 2 days ago, in the front of the sidewalk, just before the phone box in the pic above. We went for the Yew tree and 2 other trees. The yew is supposed to be there all year round and grows to about 6-7ft
     
  2. growest

    growest Active Member 10 Years

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    Jack, I was involved in a townhouse project that had a similar (repeated many times around the site) problem area. Eventually the architect did "give up" and got the narrow dark dry areas ripped out and replaced with gravel. Realize that pea gravel is difficult to walk on...not a problem with the narrow areas we had, which weren't inviting to walk thru anyway. Something like river rock might look and work nicer, if you do decide to remove the sod.

    I'm seeing patches of lawn failing, like the sod was laid over poor soil, or possibly construction debris, sand, gravel, who knows what. Same with neighbour's lawn back a ways. Watering faithfully during the early stages will give new sod a chance to root down, otherwise it could die off as yours has.

    Decisions to gravel or not will hopefully be made together with neighbour, not sure what I would do. With irrigation, this area would make a nice shade garden...agreed that lawn will be a fight if the area is shaded almost all the time. Is this the south wall of your house, shaded by the north wall of your neighbour's house? Then there are the roof overhangs, keeping it drier. A tougher area to plan, for sure.

    Hopefully others have some good input, as well...
     
  3. jacksparrow

    jacksparrow Active Member

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    thx 4 dat growest. I only mentioned pea gravel because someone else mentioned it elsewhere. I guess if it's difficult to walk on then river rock might be a better choice as I 'll like to be able to walk on it.

    That is the south side of my house and the neighbour's north side, and that is why sun isn't getting to that area. I think we are just going to do our side and leave the neighbour to make their own decision.

    Is it just a matter of ripping the grass out and pouring the gravel down, or is there prep work involved?

    waiting to hear from people
     
  4. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    First, I'd nix the gravel idea, pea or any kind. It will get tracked into the areas where you do have grass, and if you have trees there now they will drop organic material into it which will degrade and provide a home for stray weed seeds. I don't see that river rock would be easier to walk on, and it wouldn't be immune to becoming weed infested either.

    I wouldn't necessarily give up on growing grass just yet either. If it is what you want, then you could peek under those brown patches, and see if you can figure out why they are failing.

    However, there are many alternatives - shade garden with pathway, leafier ground cover other than grass... depends on whether you are a gardener, partly, as well as on your taste. Also, it depends on the needs of that gully down the middle - that's needed for drainage, I take it?

    Tell us a bit more about whether you are a DIY too, or would be willing to hire some work in for something like pavers being laid.
     
  5. jacksparrow

    jacksparrow Active Member

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    Now we plan to replace all the grass on the side with gravel. We looked at pea and river rock gravel, but it looks like it won't be easy on the feet, so we are thing of soft rock gravel?

    We are in a Zone 5 area. We aren't really big gardners, but we like to dabble.
     
  6. growest

    growest Active Member 10 Years

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    Sorry I mentioned river rock, that was confusing. I think that was what went in on the townhouse complex I was thinking back to. The situation was different there, tho, because the area between buildings was so narrow, not inviting to walk thru, hardly could get a mini-excavator in there so quite different really.

    Yes the "soft gravel" is better for walking, crushed limestone is common here, packs down nicely tho stuff will always still grow in it. Weed fabric underneath won't stop weeds in my experience...just be ready to burn them off or whatever every so often (I use my tiger torch, others use herbicide, I believe straight vinegar does an ok job with many weeds).
     
  7. jacksparrow

    jacksparrow Active Member

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    I meant round rock.....the grass in the other parts in the pic above, has now been ripped out, and we are going to pour round rock on the soil
     
  8. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    If you want gravel, then it is probably best to put landscape fabric underneath, but I still think gravel is a really bad idea. Even with landscape fabric you will have weeds rooting in the gravel as organic material settles into it, but at least they won't be too deep-rooted. Of course, the fabric would rule out using a torch to blast the weeds, but that's probably not so smart next to the house anyway. The internet is full of people asking how to get rid of gravel installed by previous owners. You may see it looking good in parking lots and other installations where it adjoins concrete, but where it adjoins lawn, flower beds, trees, and such, it is unlikely to remain nice, and it may migrate into lawn which won't make mowing any easier.

    If it were mine, I would install a paver walkway, even one of just big stepping stones, maybe meandering rather than straight - maintaining a slope toward the centre where the drain appears to be - and grow any one of dozens of available shady groundcovers alongside, or even plant a nice shade garden of bigger plants - hostas, ferns, and so on.

    That would take some maintenance until it grows in, minimal from there. Gravel will take perpetual maintenance, and the job gets bigger over time, not smaller.
     
  9. jacksparrow

    jacksparrow Active Member

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    I hear ya, but am just trying to bring cost down. 316sq ft of gravel cost $120, if I was to use pavers, I don't know how much that will turn out to be?
     
  10. jacksparrow

    jacksparrow Active Member

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    I think I might just do the Hosta suggestion, along with thr round rock gravel, what do you guys think?



     
  11. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Jack, I get a strong sense that you are determined to do gravel, and as it is your house and your maintenance job, it is not for anyone to stand in your way, including me :-)

    As for hostas, anything you plant with gravel is going to increase the organic material dropping into it unless you are a real meticulous and fast autumn-cleaner-upper. Before you plant anything herbaceous or deciduous, you should always think about how it is going to look in winter. If rain is hitting bare dirt right beside the house, it may cause quite dirt to splash against the house, for example.

    If you do an internet search for side yard, or something to that effect, you might find some examples of other people's solutions.

    One thing I haven't mentioned previously is that you should separate your gravel with maybe a 4x4 or row of bricks to limit how much it migrates into the grass.
     
  12. jacksparrow

    jacksparrow Active Member

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    on the contrary....:-) I actuall planted a bunch of hostas last night, and the plan now is to pour cedar mulch down, and then a bunch of flagstones, enough to get to the back of the house?

    So gravel is out
     
  13. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Well, now you're thinking :-). That is something that at least won't torment you or a future owner if it doesn't work out for some unforeseen reason.

    For other ideas, I had some time today to wander around the internet for some other perspectives. I finally realized the term you want to do an internet search for is "side yard" or "side yard garden" to see some examples and get some info.

    I was looking for one specific old thread on GardenWeb's Landscape Design forum that had good before and after photos, but haven't found it yet, just these ones:

    A few links here might give you some food for thought:
    http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/design/msg031125271473.html

    A before and after, just not the one I was looking for:
    http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/design/gal1202051421776.html

    And just because you might get a kick out of it:
    http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/design/msg062152288884.html?4

    Once you get started on a project the ideas seem to come easier, and it sounds like you're on your way to a satisfactory solution. Good luck, and I hope you'll post pictures of the outcome!
     
  14. jacksparrow

    jacksparrow Active Member

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    Bought some stepping stones and red mulch

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    going to leave this area like this for now until after A/C goes in

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  15. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I sure hope the lawn mower is set high when next door mows :) and there are no windows near by

    Liz
     
  16. jacksparrow

    jacksparrow Active Member

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    Any suggestions apart from the sacrastic comment? I am done with that path yet, that was all I could get in my little car at the time. I plan to move the mulch up against the house and bring the gravel away from the neighbour's side




     
  17. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Please don't mistake a bit of teasing -> the smiley-face symbol :)

    for sarcasm - Liz is about as good-natured a person as can be, from I've noticed.

    It's difficult to convey the difference in voice in a text-based medium that would be easy to recognize in person.
     
  18. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Wow - that's an interesting approach. I really like the mulch and stepping stones and the hostas; I thought that was a brilliant solution. By adding the gravel you've made it a bit of a crap shoot - but like I said, it's yours to do. I'll be very interested to hear how this works out over the longer term, so do keep us posted. Again, if you cruise around the internet on the subject of side yards you'll see you aren't the only one to be engaged by a problem area like this, and if you have to take more than one swipe at it you won't be the first either. Gardening is an adventure, welcome aboard.
     
  19. jacksparrow

    jacksparrow Active Member

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    Update:

    So I bought some edgings, more stones, and did some clearing up. I still need some more stones, so please go easy on me :D

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    This side of the house at the bottom is going to stay as is, since all the utilities stuff are there

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  20. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Much safer :) It's a good solution will be interesting to see what the neighbour does maybe they will be inspired to do something too.

    Liz
     
  21. malcolm197

    malcolm197 Active Member

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    The easiest and cheapest way to seperate grass and gravel is to use block paving setts ( do you have these over the pond? ). Lay them on a cement bed and then fill with gravel behind - not completely mind leave a small lip to stop kicking the gravel out when you walk. I have made a garden path this way, and apart from the odd gravel chipping straying it is very succesful.

    What was said about Hostas is OK but note that the environment you mention is heaven for slugs and slugs love hostas! Do your gravel bit then put your hostas in pots!! - surround them with a mulch of sharp grit.

    Malcolm
     

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