Woodland Garden Case Study

Before, Post-Planting and Mature Woodland Garden Three Years Hence

As most of you know, September 2011 marked the commencement of a major backyard overhaul. Nothing would grow in our back yard underneath the dense shade cast from rapidly growing oaks and maple trees Mark and I planted years ago. To combat the advancing “crop” of mud taking over our back yard, landscape designer Sandy Remijas (her company is Rainbow Garden Designs <http://rainbowgardendesigns.com/>) designed a lush woodland garden plan as well as oversaw the actual physical installation of the project. Recently Sandy requested some photos of the mature woodland garden. Since I believe most of you have seen the unattractive pre-planting and promising post-planting photos I thought you might also like to see how things have progressed in the ensuing years since the woodland garden was installed. Following are before views (ie, mud and sparse grass), September 2011 post-planting views and the final mature garden July 2014 results nearly three years after the planting was completed.

We appreciate Sandy coming to our backyard’s rescue. What was once an ugly eyesore is now a green leafy haven for wildlife as well as easy on one’s eyes. Unlike the days when we had a mud pit for a back yard, Mark and I enjoy our back forty nowadays.

A few plants did not take to where they were planted so we either moved them or chalked it up to experience when they croaked. However, happily most plants are thriving. During fall or perhaps next spring we intend to divide some hostas and grasses in order to fill in some spots that will benefit from hosting green growing things.

The new garden design looks much more impressive when standing in it than it does in photos; come on over and have a nice stroll through our garden.

All the best,

old-pics1

before planting

old-pics2

immediately after planting

3 years later

The north yard of our house off the kitchen deck before and after. This is QImie’s stomping ground. Fond du Lac flagstone was used to create the winding pathways throughout our new garden landscape design. A brand new, much needed new deck was installed in summer of 2013. We love the new look of steel cable on the deck railing that opens up the out of doors as opposed to the “jail bar” slats that used to obscure what lay beyond our deck.

before planting

immediately after planting

3 years later

Before and after views toward the NE from the north yard.

before planting

immediately after planting

3 years later

Before and after images of the yard. Due to dense shade created by maples and oak trees we planted many years ago, grass would not grow. Even weeds would barely hang on underneath the trees. The backyard was a muddy mess. Tree roots were eroding on the steep slope of our property. Landscape designer Sandy and Jimenez Landscaping placed 20,000# of limestone buttresses in half moons below the trees to build up the soil on top of the eroding roots as well as to keep the dirt from running downhill in rainstorms. What a difference!

before planting

immediately after planting

3 years later

The junky oval garden that never was installed properly in the first place is long forgotten history. In its place are green living things and inviting woodland beauty.

before planting

immediately after planting

3 years later

Our neighbor’s fence along the north side of our yard before and after. In the foreground of the ‘after’ image willowy green bamboo grasses are filling in the empty spaces in the wood chips and the small green yews are expected to grow and provide coverage, softening the fence line.

3 years later

3 years later

3 years later

No before photos but I just like the way this part of the yard turned out along our neighbor’s fence line.

before planting

immediately after planting

3 years later

The shady Norway maple with a healthy pin oak behind/to the right appear much happier nowadays. All the plants underneath these trees grew, spreading and largely covering the ground, making it unlikely weeds can take root in the wood chips. That means less yard maintenance for us!!! Ground cover is planted underneath each of the big trees. That will also spread to create a lush carpet of green underneath the sheltering branches of the shade trees. All is watered by a drip irrigation system that involves perforated tubes laid underneath the wood chips.

before planting

immediately after planting

3 years later

3 years later

The immense pin oak before and after photos. Sayonara to the old garden and hello to a beautiful new improvement.

3 years later

3 years later

3 years later

No before photos from these angles; just some leafy green happiness.

before planting

immediately after planting

3 years later

The tree with a very dark trunk seen in the middle of the first pre-planting image is a Norway maple. The maple tree is also seen in the middle post-planting photo and the third mature garden image.

before planting

immediately after planting

3 years later

Another before and after view of the pin oak in the middle of the backyard. Everyone looks happier in the back yard these days.

Before–Front-Yard

before planting

colorful-solution-2

3 years later

This is how badly the old garden deteriorated from soil erosion in our steeply sloping back yard. On top of that one can see how nothing would grow underneath the shade trees. Now all is looking much more attractive.

before planting

immediately after planting

3 years later

The south side of the yard…..First photo (before) is of a viburnum that was yanked out. Second photo (after) shows a Japanese lilac that was put into place along with natural grasses to delineate our yard and provide both visual interest throughout winter as well as serve as a small privacy screen. Third image is of the Japanese lilac taking over the world! Just kidding but it crowded out some sun-loving little flowering plants.

immediately after planting

3 years later

Third image is of the Japanese lilac in relation to our neighbor’s house to the south of our property. It’s growing by leaps and bounds.

immediately after planting

3 years later

Facing SE from our yard toward the pond behind our neighbor’s yard, this is another view of the Japanese lilac and plants installed underneath a beautiful red maple tree in our backyard.

before planting

immediately after planting

3 years later

Before and after photos around the south deck. The grasses grew to provide a bit of a privacy wall as well as soften the wooden deck’s angular design.

before planting

immediately after planting

3 years later

3 years later

View of the back forty from mid-yard. Horrors! Flowering hydrangeas filled out along with the hostas and small shrubs to provide contrasting shades of green and tiering of plants for visual interest. The lava rocks in the foreground are a holdover from the original garden. Landscape designer Sandy objected to them as they would never be found in a natural Illinois woodland but we like them so the rocks remained in the garden. I often see robins perch on the rocks while resting after foraging in the garden. A couple of Stella d’Oro lilies managed to hang on after the original plantings were torn out. We just did not have the heart to destroy them either so there they remain for a little golden color when they flower.

before planting

immediately after planting

3 years later

Before and after views of the yard from near the bottom of our hillside lot.

immediately after planting

3 years later

View of the yard from the SE corner. The yard is so much more inviting now. Oddly, the wild ginger ground cover that was planted underneath the red maple never thrived. It was just not happy there.

before planting

immediately after planting

3 years later

Before and after photos of the yard along the neighbor’s north side fence as seen from near the base of our yard.

before planting

immediately after planting

3 years later

Another before and after set of images of our neighbor’s fence line along the north side of our yard.

before planting

immediately after planting

3 years later

Does any question remain as to why this project was necessary? Before, the Norway maple’s roots were exposed from erosion. After, the limestone and ground cover helped stabilize the soil on the downslope of our backyard.

before planting

immediately after planting

3 years later

Another comparison set of images to demonstrate the new improvements.

before planting

immediately after planting

3 years later

By now you get the idea. The former yard was awful and the new garden design is a vast improvement. We love the grasses in Sandy’s design. She included plants that provide interest even in wintertime including grasses that look gorgeous against snowy backgrounds and hydrangeas whose dried blossoms will appear like giant frosty snowballs in wintertime.

before planting

immediately after planting

3 years later

3 years later

From our deck……First photo: Ugh. Second photo: showing promise. Third photo: Yea!