But hardscaping is literally the back bone of the garden design - the rigid backdrop against which the plants will grow and drape themselves.
In June I began the lawn removal journey by solarizing the lawn. So far, so good - not a single weed/plant has grown back, even after that great day of rain we had last week.
I went berserk with spray paints and gave the garden furniture a makeover in July.
In August my friends helped me to build Wee Lee Canyon - a dry creek around the perimeter of the lawn.
September saw the grand hardscaping finale - the pergola and the patio.
I wanted a redwood pergola and the big box stores didn't seem to offer redwood. Plenty of cedar, precut and self assembly that cost way more than buying redwood lumber and getting a real carpenter to build it. The redwood lumber for the pergola cost so much that I knew it would be foolhardy to attempt to build it myself. Besides,I knew an excellent carpenter who would give me a reasonable price on the labor. My friend, Jimmy Quenelle and his helper Steve did the entire job from start to finish in two days.
Jimmy helped me settle on the design for the pergola and pretty much made it to measure for my yard. He laid concrete foundations for the four posts and sunk steel braces into the concrete. These then held the upright posts so that none of the wood would be touching soil.
With the pergola built, the next step was to get the sandstone pavers. My Husband and I went to Evergreen Supplies, a family run business near us in San Jose. Everyone who works there claims to be one of a squad of brothers...even the girls. Okay, I jest...
A recurring problem with small garden projects like ours is that the shop would not deliver anything smaller than a pallet of pavers and that was more than twice what we needed. So we borrowed a truck from our friends Cathy and Tom (who have just launched a great kickstarter project - click here for more details if you love Lord of the Rings.)
Neither My Husband nor I are very big, so it was with a great deal of effort that we hauled eighteen huge twelve-foot-square slabs of rock home. It took a couple of runs, but we got there in the end.
We'd researched online how to lay pavers. We wanted a more "crazy paving" style with ground cover growing in between the cracks. After much debate we settled on a layer of sand as a base rather than setting them on the bare dirt, or the base gravel, cement foundation rigmarole they talked a lot about. I hope the whole damn thing doesn't disappear when the rains come!
But finally, it was done.
The mulch is really just to keep moisture in the soil when I plant it out. Although all the weed seeds were killed in the soil by the solarization, wind-born seeds will have been deposited in the short time the ground has been left bare. You never completely win the war against weeds.
I couldn't decide which of the photos of the finished job was the best so I posted them all.
In the meantime I'm looking forward to using the green thumb again!