Lazy Gardener – Success!

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Since the Theodore Payne Garden Tour I have truly reached new heights in the realm of lazy gardening. (See below for links to other posts on lazy gardening).  And, I can now honestly say that this has been possible without relying on stronger backs to do the work. I no longer employ a lawn crew to maintain my ever shrinking lawn. To be completely honest, I must disclose that I have hired Krista, a professional gardener who specializes in native plants, to help out. We have been working together so that she can learn my yard and my ways, and then keep it all going while my husband and I travel. You see there is an extended trip to India in the works. I cannot wait to learn about their horticultural practices (blog posts to come!). Though my son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter will be living in the house, their skill with plants is … oh, how to be kind?… well my daughter-in-law had to admonish her mother to quickly take a lavender plant off her hands before she killed it. Rather than worry, I am putting Krista in charge, and I will have to let what happens happen. They are only plants.So now I am putting the whole lazy gardener thing to the test. How much work is actually required to maintain this yard? How can I irrigate from afar to keep the mature non-native trees and the little patches of lawn healthy? What will happen to all of the container plants?

New Garden Journal

The first step – that has already been taken – was to hire a true gardener instead of a lawn maintenance crew. And so Krista entered the picture. Step two is to keep track of what I actually do in the garden. I am terrible at this. Because gardening is not work to me, pulling a few weeds, or clipping spent flowers is not recorded, nor even noted. In fact, four hours in the garden is translated into about an hour of playing around. I have garden notebooks all over the house from previous attempts to monitor garden care. The fact that I have so many and they are so incomplete suggested the need to begin anew, but this time with more resolve and discipline; hence the start of a new marble notebook to be filled in by myself and Krista. I feel so organized already!

Step three is to look around the garden and determine which plants require ongoing care, such as supplemental water more than every couple of weeks. All of these are in pots. Some are natives that I care about, such as a large apricot mallow, Abutilon palmeri. These will have to be put on a timer, given away, or allowed to die. Painful process but necessary. Our extended leave also provides the not-so-painful opportunity to get rid of the uglies that I keep for no particular reason, such as the large, unappealing geranium that has been in the same pot for about a decade.

I’d love to preserve the apricot mallow (left), but the old geranium on the right does not need to take up space, resources and time.

While culling through the pots, I will also part with the cacti that sport two inch long daggers (spines), or nearly invisible fuzz (glochids) that is oh so painful to tough adult skin but so much worse to soft baby skin. These will be put up for adoption so I will not have nightmares of my granddaughter getting into a scuffle with these dangerously armed plants as she toddles around the garden.

These are easy to care for but are not toddler-friendly plants. I will put them up for adoption.
This agave will be hard to part with – it is really pretty – but go it must since the terminal spines and marginal teeth are deadly.Well… maybe I can move it to the front yard where it will not pose a risk.

In the vegetable garden, we will enjoy the tomatoes this summer, but herbs, leafy greens and other edibles will be phased out as we approach departure day.

Next I am planning to change the controller that is programmed to irrigate the front yard. It supports two mature trees, a deodar cedar and an avocado, the small bit of remaining lawn, and the front parkway trees. This controller, like most, cannot be programmed to go off less frequently than weekly, yet I prefer to water much less often. During the summer this area gets watered approximately once every ten days to two weeks, depending on how hot it is. I also try to water before Santa Ana winds are forecast. The way I do this now is to set the sprinkler to go off very early in the morning. I then have to remember to turn the controller to the off setting. About two weeks later I set it again. I only water when the lawn looks a slight bit drought-stressed. In the shady front yard this is about once every 10 to 14 days during the summer, and less during cooler, wetter seasons.

The only remaining lawn in the front yard is on the east side beneath a large deodar cedar tree. The west side, beneath an old avocado tree, is covered with leaf mulch. Irrigation is needed primarily to maintain the trees. Not only are these mature trees beautiful, but they provide much needed shade since our house faces south.

Searching the internet I found something called the Irrigation Caddy. I have been emailing their technical support to make sure it will do what I want. It can be set to water as infrequently as once every 30 days. I will be able to set the controller remotely from any computer that has an internet connection. Now I am trying to make sure that I can connect this controller to our home wireless internet. The router is upstairs and the new controller will be in the basement where the current controller and irrigation wires are located.  Sounds like I may need a wireless-ethernet bridge but I have to make sure that I have a wireless signal in the basement. Will let you know how this works out.

The backyard does not have an automatic sprinkler system. Since we will be gone during winter, the avocado trees should make it without supplemental irrigation, though f it is a dry winter, someone will have to set up the hose and sprinkler about once a month for a long deep watering.

It is a start, though I am sure that I will have more to do and say about preparing the yard for our six month absence.

Earlier posts on lazy gardening:
Work Reduction Work
Lazy Woman’s Garden
I am a lazy gardener
Garden chores
But is it really low-maintenance?
Lazy Gardener’s Wild Suburbia

One thought on “Lazy Gardener – Success!

  1. Hi Barbara,<br />I&#39;d be happy to take the Abutilon an agave off your hands and give them a happy home if you&#39;re still looking to adopt them.

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