Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Reduce, reuse, recycle

This isn't about native plants per se, but I've been posting about my front flower bed here, so I'll update you on one of the recent changes.

When preparing for the rain garden project, I wanted to start remedying storm water runoff as far uphill as possible.  On the shoulder of our driveway were several large patches of spilled concrete from when our house was built.  Concrete is presumably even less permeable to water than our native clay soil is, so the concrete had to go.  A sledgehammer and several hours of labor later, I had a large collection of concrete chunks.  I refused to pay to dispose of them, but the stack looked kind of like a rock wall, so that gave me an idea.
Spilled concrete--now broken into chunks and pulled up from the shoulder of my driveway.

I stacked some of the more uniformly sized concrete chunks two high, forming a small wall or border around my flower bed.  I made it undulate artistically.
Faux rock wall (made from recycled concrete chunks) as a flower bed border.

From a distance, one could easily mistake the concrete for rock.  Up close, it definitely looks like concrete.  So it's kind of redneck, but at least I'm not using old tires as planters.  The pieces aren't mortared together, so the top layer can get knocked off by the edger, but thus far it's been quick and easy to re-stack the few pieces that fall off.
Close-up of faux rock wall (recycled concrete chunks) around flower bed.

I've actually found the border helpful in garden design.  Now that I know the exact size and shape of the bed, I can better plan how to fill it.  My initial vision for the bed had straight edges, but adding the wiggles gives me some nice pockets of new space that can be filled with small plants.  I was able to rip out a lot of grass that turned out to be inside the bed.  Now when my husband mows the lawn, it's very clear which areas he's not supposed to cut.  (I'll say more about our mowing issues in a future post.)  The concrete isn't the most attractive border ever, but it was free and is useful in delineating the bed.  I can always spring for fancy stones later if I want.  Meanwhile, the concrete chunks can be easily moved if I decide the bed should be a different size or shape.

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