A few days ago I gave you some landscape design strategies in this post, and today I have a few more ideas for you.
At the nursery I decided to dig out an area where we could set our small pots. Great idea, but that left me with a mountain of dirt that you can see in this video. Amber made me climb the pile to do the video!
Because we need to do something with the huge pile of soil, and because we need a nice big bed in the nursery where we plant things that we’d like to take cuttings from, we rummaged through the rock pile, re-arranged the dirt pile a bit, and turned it into this landscape planting. I’ll walk you through some of the landscape design ideas and strategies that went into this thought process.
Broken rocks, bricks, patio stones and bones can be pretty doggone attractive.
When I first started clearly this property for the nursery I started finding all kinds of rocks, patio blocks, bricks, broken concrete blocks, chunks of concrete etc., so I just started a rock pile over in the poison ivy patch. Shudda given that more thought!
So Amber, Cathy and I started digging through the rock pile and with a sledge hammer we broke up any piece that looked to much like it was supposed to. At we first this seemed like a crazy idea and we started fishing out broken clay tiles, pieces of concrete that had been painted, just about every kind of random thing you can think of, including a bone! Yes, we found a big ole bone and decided that it too would go into this wall.
I’m not sure, but it could be Jimmy Hoffa’s hip bone. Don’t tell the feds, they’ll be out here digging up my nursery! If this is Jimmy Hoffa’s resting place then he’s a lucky guy in my book. Okay, so he wasn’t all that lucky but you know what I mean.
So armed with a pile of debris I turned Amber and Cathy loose on the wall and wished them well. They did an awesome job and I love the randomness of things that went into this little wall.
If you look closely you can see how many different kinds of things we found in that rock pile. No, we did not mortar, cement or glue the rocks into place, we just stacked them up making a wall. My Backyard Growers know that my motto is keep it simple, and by all means don’t over complicate a simple thing. If a rock or a hip bone comes loose we can just place back into the wall in a new spot.
The little tree is an Orangeola Japanese Maple. It is in the weeping laceleaf family of Japanese maples but this one changes colors and at different times of the year turns really, really orange. This little tree will be awesome in a few years. By the way, I think I have four Japanese maples in this planting and knowing me as I do, I’ll probably add more.
If you were looking at the little stone wall this area of the bed is to the left of that. In this photo there are two different kinds of Sprirea and notice that they are planted together in groups, not scattered all over the bed helter skelter. They are more effective and more striking when grouped together. The little orange tree off to the left is the Orange Dream Japanese maple. Orange Dream is an upright Japanese maple. I just planted a little bigger one in my landscape at home. I love the color of this little tree!
This is the right side of the planting. The little green tree right in the center of the photo is a Lion’s Head Japanese maple. The evergreen off to the right is a Weeping Nootka Cypress tree. The blue Junipers at the bottom of the photo are Blue Star Juniper, and the ones off to the left are Blue Rug Juniper. The Blue Rug Juniper actually go all across the top of the wall and down the other side. It won’t be long before they are cascading over the stone wall which should look great!
You need to know this. It’s Important.
I looked all over for those Blue Rug Juniper in a one gallon. Nobody had them. Everybody wanted to sell me 3 gallon plants for almost $20.00 each! The time has never been better for us backyard growers. And I’ll tell you this, if right now today, you had 500 Blue Rug Juniper liners that were about one year old, I’d buy them from you in a heart beat! Looking for those plants made realize that I need to get some in my nursery right now! Not to mention a lot of other things. What are you waiting for. Start Small and Make Some Money!
Up on top of the hill we have a number of Purple Sandcherry, Some Red Rose of Sharon, a few Burning Bush and a couple of Snow Mound Spirea with are more upright. The gold plants to the right of this picture are Gold Flame Spirea which is different than the Gold Mound Spirea planted on the opposite side.
If you look closely you’ll realize that the plants are strategically placed, taller plants near the top of the mound, medium height plants in front of those, then lower plants near the bottom of the mound, and of course the Blue Rug Juniper placed in such a way that it can creep over the stone wall.
Wow! This planting has more going on than I remembered and we just did it a week ago. If you look closely to the bottom right of the photo there is a single Stem Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick. This is a plant that got the top broken off so I put it in the landscape. Remind me. By the end of the summer you won’t recognize some of these plants they will have changed so much.
On the other side of the stone wall there is another little tiny Weeping Japanese Maple that is called Nishiki Orida. It has variegated leaves!
As time goes on I’m sure that we will add a lot more to this planting.
Interesting enough you can see all the nursery stuff behind this planting which doesn’t do much for the planting itself, but the planting does wonder for the aesthetics of the nursery!
This planting so far has six specimen plants. The four Japanese maples, the Weeping Nootka Cypress and a Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick. No, no that’s not right. Seven. There’s also a Weeping Pussy Willow right top dead center. Almost missed that.
Start Small and Make Some Money!
Whaddya think? It was just a big pile of dirt two weeks ago.
Okay, questions, comments, concerns? Post em below.
Your landscape designs are fine, but no flowers!
Plus the Piers japanica poisons songbirds as per article above.
We need flowers and native plants, a 4 season garden is what a true garden is.
Ive been designing and installing gardens for almost 45 years now. Shrubs and trees are great,, and they enhance a home, but if that’s all it is, it’s boring and does nothing for us to be connected to nature. I’ve worked at hospices for several years and the joy that people have in their final moments us watching the change of flowers blooming, the butterflies, bees, birds, and other creatures as well as sitting among the various trees and shrubs. I tried to copy photos to this space but can’t do it.
I put annual flowers in my own landscape and spring bulbs. And of course some perennials.
Dave Hine says
Mike, you are the greatest!!! I always look forward to your newsletters
Susan Kingsolver says
Mike have you ever used roundup quick pro 73.3% weed killer? I have so much Ivy, Wisteria, Cherokee Roses and lots of undergrowth around some of my property. I need help. I’ve been using generic roundup and roundup which I think is 41% glyphosate and it’s not doing much on the Ivy and Cherokee roses. They are both evergreen and have thick leaves. I ordered some of the 73.3% and hope this does the trick. My daughter, son-in-law and myself worked all day Sunday with a chainsaw and other tools and was only able to get rid of half of a stand of the Cherokee Rose. I planted it maybe 15 years ago at the bottom of a 20 foot 6X6 that held bat houses. It was a beautiful site in the spring but when I quit taking care of that part of my property it became a nightmare. I’m really hoping the 73.3% does the trick. I’ve read when you get all the Cherokee rose cut back you have to spray or dig out every piece that comes back but eventually it will disappear.
Susan Kingsolver says
I’m so glad I took time to look at this e-mail. You have again, given me ideas. We’re landscaping the front of my property which is across from the creek and across a road from my house. It is the entrance to my property. My son-in-law had a load of dirt delivered someone gave him and it’s half rock and building blocks and half dirt so I’ve been taking the rocks and building blocks out and was wondering what to do with them. I’ll combine them with all the rocks from my old ponds we took up, some boulders I have and bricks spread out over 4 acres and make a wall to keep folks off of my plantings. He also had a load of asphalt delivered and used some for the road that runs through my property but there’s some left in big chunks and I was wondering what the heck to do with it. I’m anxious to see it gone because it’s in the spot where we get mulch, dirt and sand delivered. Any ideas?
ugly ugly ugly where are the flowers
You’re most positive and helpful comments are truly appreciated. This photo is of a landscape planting that was all of a week old when the photo was taken. this landscaping project was intended to make a huge pile of sand and gravel disappear. I think we accomplished that quite well and now the shrubs have matured and bloom throughout the summer. I appreciate you taking the time to offer your input.
Cleo Hales says
Some people don’t really know what great landscaping is all about. I’m a Landscape Designer and love it.
Want to know what is on the ground rocka, mulch What? Or I mean shredded bark. I know that is what you like.I am doing part of my backyard almost like you have here but I’m putting in colorful shurbs mostly because I feel you dont need flowers persay you can get beautiful color may sneak in a fruitless Crab Apple also. Waiting to see this design in a couple of months.Thanks for all your emails.
I ADORE the Mules!!!!
I almost always use bark mulch or dyed mulch in my landscape. I’ve found that the dyed mulch looks better longer, last longer, and doesn’t break down and promote weed growth as quickly as bark mulch. Bark mulch is great for the soil and I use it at the nursery at times. We used to use it in our potting mix.
I have a young goldflame spirea (about 1-2 yrs old) that I would like to divide now in summer, due to the fact it needs to be moved for foundation sealing purposes..is it ok to do this? I do not want to kill it, but is necessary to move it now. I would like to wait but can’t…please help!!
Stacia Stubblefield says
Your arrangement on the hill is beautiful. How wide and long is that hill? Pictures can be deceiving. I have such a hard time deciding what to grow and where and you make it look so easy.
Over all I’d guess that mound is at least 30′ long from one end to the other.
Stacia Stubblefield says
I just read your article. I was wondering how did you avoid bermuda grass or other grasses and weeds to get into your hill seeing you used the dirt from another area of your land (that I am presuming contained weeds and grasses). My bermuda spreads into everything and I am constantly using Roundup which I hate to do especially around my plants.
We don’t have Bermuda here in Ohio but we have plenty of other invasive grasses. Like you I keep things spray so I can keep it under control.
wowww your idea of landscaping is good, thanks for ya ideas 🙂
I just planted a one year graft orange dream myself! They are so enchanting! I’m also planting a purple ghost but I’m just not sure where to put it? My yard mostly gets a ton of afternoon sun except for a wooded area in the back that hardly gets any sun. Trying to find a happy medium has proved impossible. I have the poor little orphan plant in a pot and I have been moving it around to see where it is the happiest. The sunny spots seem to scorch it and the shade just makes it dark and red; which does not showcase this beauties translucent purple uniqueness?! What can I do? Where should I plant this?
donna gagne says
mike, this isn’t a nursery it is a beautiful little park and I’d love to be able to visit it to enjoy it. I can hardly imagine how gorgeous it will in a while when it starts to fill out. You are doing what I’m trying to do. my weeds are doing great.
Christi Upson says
Help! Mike, I bought a Japanese Maple last year (laceleaf, I think) and the deer ate all it’s little leaves off. I wondered if it would survive the winter and it did. So far, they’ve eaten half the leaves off, but I planted some marigolds at the base of the tree and that seems to be keeping them at bay for the moment. Do you have any other ideas to keep this little tree safer this year so it can grow some?
Mike: I really like your articles and share them with all my co-workers. You can get some really good “dirt” learning from you. Ha! I want to do the backyard growing & selling. I work full time & I only have the weekends. I plan on getting started this summer now that the days are longer. It’s pretty hot here in Bakersfield, CA so plants grow fast. I’ll keep you posted if I’m successful or not.
Thanks for all of your insights.
Thank you and good luck. Give serious thought to my system. It contains a ton of stuff that I never share with the general public and it’s very affordable. https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2013/03/how-to-make-65%C2%A2-per-square-inch-in-your-backyard/
Luv the photos.I allways use what I have around my house.I luv the natural look.keep up the good work.
Mike: I want to advertise in our local paper for the “Re-Landscape Your House for only $$” for some extra income for the summer. Since I don’t have a job anymore and my son needs a job, I thought this might help us both out. I went back to old material I got from you years ago and was re-reading how to do the “Re-Landscaping”. I am planning to use your ad just as is, but need to know, what is your “secret weed control” that you promote in the ad? I can’t very well say I am using a “secret weed control” if I don’t know what it is. Can you share please?
HI, MIKE! I JUST SAVED 1000 TULIPS THAT WERE IN THE DUMPSTER, THEY WERE PULLED OUT WHILE STILL IN BLOOM.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO TAKE CARE OF THEM? MANY STEMS
ARE BROKEN 4″ FROM THE BULB. SHOULD I CUT OFF THE GREEN
PARTS AND DRY, OR REPLANT AND LET THE BULBS TRY TO GET STRONGER? THANKS FOR ANY HELP YOU MAY HAVE. HOPE TO SELL
THESE AT MY YARD SALE.(AND COVER MY YARD TOO!UNFORTUNATELY
I KNOW THE COLOR OF LESS THAN 20 OF THESE BULBS, SO I WONT
GET TOP DOLLAR. THANKS AGAIN!
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm. At this point I think I’d replant them, but letting them dry and planting in fall might work. I think I’d plant them now. Don’t worry about the tops. Just plant as is.
Looks beautiful, Mike! I love it that Ann Marie dubbed it the “scavenger” wall. I showed it to my husband, and he said our whole house is a “scavenger” house, as I love old, interesting stuff. I live on terrible soil, and have lots of deer and other wild guests, so landscaping is really tough here in San Antonio, Texas. Plus, even full sun plants have a hard time in this Texas heat. When I get discouraged, I just come in and bring up your latest email; it bolsters my courage to go out and try again! I now have a few successes, keep up the good work!
The rock wall is a great idea. I am planning to make a planter for the front yard out of black granit discards from a company near by. Looks like you have great soil out there,
keep up the good work, and keep the articles and pics comming.
i like the idea,s of your landscapeing could you show us some that we can use in a smaller place ? i have a liminted space. i would like to try.
thank you in advance
Any landscaping that I show here can be applied to smaller place. The design principles are the same, you’ll just use fewer plants and possibly plants that don’t grow as large. Take any segment of any landscaping that I’ve done and you can create just that piece in a smaller area.
David Stroud says
GREAT PICTURES & DESIGN!!!!
Rita Griebel says
Have a question Mike. The road going by our home is alot
lower than the lawn. I am on planning on terracing on one side of driveway with roses I propagated during the winter. Now the other side is alot higher(steeper)and was wondering what I could do with it. We do not mow it now because it is too steep, but looks shaggy with the other side looking nice and is now mowed. Husband might now be able to mow this year (medical problems) and it scares the dickens out of me to mow hills which is why I plan on doing the terracing. Would be interested in what I could do. Thanks. Rita
Turn it into a rock garden, but only if you have a plan to keep up with the weeds. I have a lot written about weed control. https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/directory/
Julia Peyton says
I think the spacing of the plants and the triangulation in their placement is excellent. Too many times people crowd plants together. They look good for a few months then become overgrown and a shapeless mass. Thanks for setting a good design example.
Thanks Julia, sometimes I pack things in if I need a lot of one plant to get cuttings from. But eventually I end removing things when too crowded.
Linda Pannell says
Hi Mike. love the idea of the sorted rocks, bricks, and whatever else you can find in the yard. I had never thought of that, but we always seem to have that stuff around. We’ve used alot of drift wood in our landscaping that we’ve drug up from the beaches of Fort Bragg, Cal. Beautiful stuff, that we’ve added to our notical landscaping, but I do like the rock idea, also. Love all your ieads!! Linda
This is my first note to you Mike and I must say I enjoy your enthusiasm and love of plants as do I.
Mike I have read your bio and am deeply impressed how you turned your life around. Gardening is such a wonderful way to make a living for thousands of people.I save plants from years before and winter them in my garage.Fuchsias, bulbs geraniums etc How about telling your devoted gardeners they can restart the growth of celery ,green onions, potatoes,
ginger,romaine lettuce,garlic etc and save even more money.
Plants are truly amazing.
Great advice, but I’d lying if I pretended to know as much about food crops as I do ornamentals. But you’re right we need more articles along those lines and my assistant Amber is just the person to get that done.
Charline Jolly says
I have been reading Gertrude Jeckel’s “Making a Garden” and she likes the stray volunteers that come up in a dry wall. I would like to see Campanula Muralis or C. porscheslana coming up here and there. I also like Golden Alyssum and the stonecrops cascading down a wall.
Thanks so much Mike, I always enjoy learning new ways to convert my backyard!!! This idea actually will fit in well as I have dirt mounds with nothing on them. 🙂
Me and my sons loved the rubber chicken idea… only I wish I had never shown them the picture, because I threw their rubber chicken in the recycling a few weeks back! LOL They didnt know until they saw your picture. Must muffle my laughs at times.
Thanks for the emails and updates. The nursery is coming along nicely
I have blue rug juniper planted outside my house. I am going to start taking cuttings and rooting them!
Mike I love this idea…..and all your ideas for that matter…keep ’em coming!
Ann Marie says
Your new landscape area is really nice and very interesting! I love the scavenger wall, as it looks like something I would be likely to do if I had the space. You philosophy of keeping it simple is great, too. Thanks for all you share. It is so inspiring!
Thanks Ann, I appreciate that.
Claudia B says
Hi Mike, long time reader of your site, I have a problem and maybe you can help. I have 3/4 acre of land including my trailer. at the end of trailer is my septic tank. I’ve planted near the trailer Glads and Iris’s, but I can’t go any further out because of the septic tank. I still have med amt of room b4 I get to the path to back of trailer, how can I put this plot to good use without interfering with the septic system? I can’t have anything that goes deep because of the field lines leading away from trailer, any suggestions? Thanks ahead of time.
How about lots of annuals and some perennials. Those roots shouldn’t grow all that deep to create a problem I wouldn’t think.
Very Nice Mike ! I agree, anything can be added to the landscape to make it even more interesting..whether it be shiney, rusty, old wood, etc. ! When you mentioned ‘the bone’..my wife purchased a ‘Huge’ bone from the local supermarket for our 100+lb Chow..any visitors to the back yard would spot that ‘Bull Femur’ and with a shocked look, ask ‘What’s That’ ? I would say “I think it used to be the ‘Mailman’ ! Not a lot of visitors anymore for some reason !
Jerry that’s funny! I used to work with a meter reader that was afraid of dogs. We got one of those huge dog bones and would move it around on his route so it looked everybody had a mammoth dog. Yeah, yeah, I know. I’ll get chastised for doing that. It’s a guy thing. That’s what guys do. He found ways to get even.
Great ideas and great job, Mike! I love reading your articles though I rarely comment, as well as love reading the replies/responses from others, because I get a great deal of inspiration from it. I also get many new ideas for new/different ways of doing things with cuttings and small bushes, etc.
I had never tried rooting cuttings from trees or bushes prior to reading your articles and now I’m trying it with all kinds of things! My success thus far, though extremely limited as of yet, has been much better than I expected and I’ll be setting up a small nursery bed or two in the early fall (after the regular gardening is mostly done). You’ve converted another one, Mike…;)…and it’s ALL GOOD! Thank you!
This is the season for the cuttings and this is how you do it. http://www.freeplants.com/homemade-plant-propagation.htm
Joan DiCostanzo says
Joan DiCostanzo says
Just beautiful and so interesting. Lots of texture and design just with shrubs and trees.
I have a problem right at my landing where tree roots are coming up. Can I fill this in with dirt and plant on top of it. I tried a partial filling but the rains washed a line through it. What do you think?
Thanks for being here.
I’m not sure I completely understand the issue, but right off the top of my head I’m thinking you need to fill the area with washed stone which will allow that water to rush through. And that beats trying to dig in and around all of those roots.
Carolyn Schwartz says
Neat Idea, I like it!
Hey there Mike,
I have a slant from the road to my house that could use these ideas…house at bottom. Also I lost the fantastic tool you recommended several months ago…a hand-held sharp, slanted hoe…I would like to order another but do not know where it was purchased online. Can you or oe of your followers help?
Thank you for your many wonderful iddeas
Probably the Nija Gama Hoe for weeding. Or the Easy Digger for planting. Both available on Amazon.
Any thoughts on how to use huge boulders? We recently excavated for a new addition and dug out about 15 huge – I mean huge boulders. One is the size of a smart car! And a lot of smaller rocks – the kind you’d find in old stone walls. I want to keep them in the landscape but it’s only 1/2 acre and so I have to go vertical! I don’t want rocks plunks down haphazardly all over, but I can’t think of how to make them work. Any ideas?
The worst thing you could do would be to scatter those boulders all of your yard. If it were me, I’d group them all together and create a landscape planting in and around them. Don’t plunk them on top of the ground they look best and more natural when they are are partially buried, as if emerging from the ground. In other words dig down and get them partially, about 25% below grade, then use the soil you excavated to fill in around them. If it’s really poor soil then leave plenty of room for topsoil. The slowly, over time work in the plants, grasses, Japanese Maples, spreading Junipers that will hang over the edges of the rocks.
Now here’s my concern. Where do you live? If you are in a really, really cold zone those big rocks are going to get might cold during the winter and that cold will be translocated into that raised bed. Having the rocks partially buried will help because the ground heat from below verses the cold from the winter winds could offset the problem. I learned working in the water business that when things were flush to the ground we were fine, but the minute a water meter vault was raised above grade it would snag that bitter cold wind and that water meter would be the only one in that neighborhood that would freeze.
I hope this helps.
Absolutely beautiful. I always look forward to each installment and wish I were years younger so I could put more in place. My yard could definetly use some of your beautiful ideas. Thank you!
Looks great! I would love to see the orange Japanese maple.
Thanks for the photos, Mike. I need to install a berm to divert storm water from our home and you’ve given me some ideas on how to landscape it. Keep those emails coming!