It’s spring – time to go outside and play with dirt. Our front yard only had two rose bushes which totally lacked interest and character. Lucky for us, it was however a blank slate for whatever landscaping pleases us. We put the rose bushes up for an adoption and started visiting local nurseries for landscaping ideas.
My husband and I adore Japanese rock/Zen gardens. We figured simple, clean lines of a Zen garden would be a great complement to our mid-century modern home. We dreamed our front yard with a Japanese maple tree, low-profile conifers, rocks and whatnot. We wanted to fill the garden with sand or gravels to represent water, one of the important elements in the Zen garden.
Such a dream crashed during our last trip to the nursery. Our house faces south (all-day full sun). We were told that the all-day full sun location is the worst environment for Japanese maples, especially for the type (weeping lace leaf type) we wanted. Plus, gravel would not be a good idea as they would reflect the heat and harm whatever we plant. Oklahoma summers can be brutal – 100+ temperature isn’t uncommon during summer days.
The nursery guys said – “Plant some full sun plants and lay cypress mulch instead.” We don’t want to be plant abusers, so we must go with his recommendation. We picked two “full sun” trees to start: Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar and Rising Sun Redbud. We also picked three sandstone boulders covered with lichen and two garden statues: Confucius and Guanyin. At this point, we totally forgot about going with a Japanese garden theme.
We spent two full weekends preparing the soil – all by hand. We cursed ourselves (and each other) for not hiring someone to do the job and/or renting power tools. We were sore for a while, but saved money and acquired some useful hand tools for the zombie apocalypse.
We took a vacation day for the rocks and trees delivery day. Rocks were delivered first. In Japanese gardens, an arrangement of three rocks is very common. The tallest rock represents heaven, the shortest, flat rock represents earth and the “in between” size rock represents humanity – so we’ve got that covered (I think). Trees were delivered next. We love the look of the Weeping Blue Atlas cedar next to the tall rock – it looks like the waterfall running into the mountain. We planted three Dwarf Mugo Pine shrubs as well.
There was a space left for another tree or shrub. We originally wanted a pom pom pine (like five pom poms branching out) we have seen at the same nursery for that spot. We didn’t buy it then and now it was sold out. The nursery couldn’t get another one for us (note to self: buy it when you see it), so we had to find something else. After going to three nurseries, we settled on a Dwarf Japanese Juniper. I really like the texture of it. It supposed to spread out like a ground cover. We used the ordinary metal edging for border. We finished it up with cypress mulch as recommended.
My yard didn’t turn out as originally envisioned nor it is professionally designed, but we are pretty happy with the result. I enjoy pulling up my driveway now – well, almost. We have another exterior project coming up!