Saturday, April 16, 2016

Building a Backyard From Scratch: Grass in the Desert Oasis

Greetings faithful readers!

Brendan and I have had a busy week chock-full of good news. One thing that kept us busy was finally planting grass plugs in our desert oasis of a backyard. What are grass plugs? Well, a company in Nebraska grew some buffalo grass, a grass native to the great plains, and cut the grass into "plugs" for us to plant one foot apart. The idea is that the plugs will grow into each other, eventually covering this space with beautiful, low maintenance, and desert adapted grass. Brendan researched this method and choose it both because the results of buffalo grass (unavailable in sod) are supposed to be better than the results you get with Bermuda or St. Augustine sod and because it was a much more affordable option than sod (totaling $200).

The process of planting the plugs took us several hours, and we both had very sore backs after it was done; however, we are excited to watch our "lawn" grow.

This morning, we went to the plant show that we have been anticipating for a month now. It did not disappoint. We bought many desert friendly plants to add to our "desert oasis." Our goal is to attract butterflies and hummingbirds galore, and we saw many beautiful butterflies while working in the yard today (white, blue, yellow, and orange). 

We bought a new ocotillo to replace ours that died (we over watered, sadly. Lesson learned). Later in the summer, this one will hopefully bloom and attract hummingbirds and bees. 

We bought red and white Autumn Sage to put in the corner behind our Chinese Pistache. I love the delicious smell of these plants! We also planted "butterfly weed" here and along the side fence. 

Some new succulents found their way into one of our river rock beds: 

This photo shows some of our progress along the back fence. We recently planted two more Russian Sages and separated pups of aloes and yuccas to create more greenery. I can't wait until we see blooms from the Russian Sage and the Bird of Paradise.  

So many varieties of cacti. The cactus garden makes me happy. 

I recently saw a hummingbird enjoying this beautiful bloom from a Zebra Aloe (we planted another along the back fence today). 

Though we had to start over with basil, many of our herbs survived winter and are thriving in the herb garden. Among our herbs we have rosemary, oregano, three kinds of mint, thyme, parsley, sage, dill, and even some onion! 

Our other bed, though not nearly as green yet has fennel, Mexican Sage, Licorice Marigold, Lantana (just planted today), Chives, Turks Cap, and Mexican Honeysuckle. Give this bed a month and things will be more interesting. 

Desert oasis at large. 

We even cleaned up the patio (again). We constantly battle against red dirt that blows onto the patio, so we have to sweep and shake out rugs and cushions (it's a glamorous life). 

As I showered after another day of working outside, I smiled to myself remembering the time when I thought the backyard would be "a weekend project." Oh how wrong I was, and oh how lovely it is to be wrong sometimes! Building our backyard has brought us closer together. I wouldn't trade all of these days in the sun for anything. 

Here's to your days in the sun. Don't forget to wear sunscreen! 

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