Changing with the Times Part IV


Welcome to our August edition and our final article in the series of the lawn alternative, Kurapia. I will continue to incorporate Kurapia into our landscapes, however, starting with September my focus will be on the overall “before and after” landscape changes.In review, we have followed our first yard watching the Kurapia fill in. At 12-inch centers it took 2 1/2 months – quite impressive. From this I learned its rate of growth and I’m now recommending 18-inch centers for all low traffic applications. Planting and using the Kurapia has been an enjoyable learning experience and I am giving both the broker (located in So. Cal.), as well as, the grower, who is in Tokyo, feedback on what I am learning. So far we have seen examples of it in full sun and know that it does not have any problem taking our sun or heat. However, how does it do in filtered light and shade?  This month we are reviewing a backyard that has both.   We made a video comparing the Kurapia both in the shade and sun using this month’s featured yard and last month’s full sun landscape.  By scanning the URL code we can view and compare the changes of the Kurapia in both these distinct light environments.

In talking about this yard let’s first start with the landscape goal. The owners wanted a completely new look to their very plain backyard.  The home is located in the Golf Links area of Folsom where many of the yards have slopes to contend with and this yard is no different. The front yard is quite sloped, as well as an area of the backyard. However a good portion of the backyard is level, though it is somewhat narrow and long.   Also, the existing hardscape was divided into three small patios between the master bedroom, kitchen and living room. None of the sections of patio were of sufficient size for entertaining. So, our first job was to break out the cement patios and re-grade according to the new dimensions. Pavers were the choice, and although they are pricier than cement, they do not crack and they offer an upscale look.  Pavers were also ideal for this yard because of all the tree roots, which had caused several areas of the cement to crack. If tree roots are a foreseeable concern, pavers make a great choice. It is very feasible s to lift a section of pavers, cut the root(s) and put the pavers back. This is not possible with cement, the patch will never match.

In most of our homes we have been creating either leech lines to return the water via the downspouts back into the ground or hiding a perforated line in a dry stream bed. With this home we could not do that because of its location. It is the last home at the bottom of a hill and the backyard stays wet for a considerable amount of time after a rain (I wrote about this home in July’s edition), therefore adding more ground water would not be wise.

In laying the pavers there was much discussion about the proper size of the living room patio. Because of the narrowness of the yard, having the patio too deep brought it too close to the retaining wall leaving little room to landscape. The homeowners also were still undecided about adding a water feature that would require space as well.  Therefore we decided to make the patio a little wider to accommodate its planned use, having more space on the sides than in depth. A water feature is a key element in a yard and since they are not cheap, deciding on the right style, sound, color etc., is super important. In the case of my clients they decided for a custom made wall/spillway fountain instead of the pre-made fountains. For some, this style of fountain would be a bit much, for others it’s a strong look that makes an impressive statement. In building this type of water feature there are many variations. The height of the actual spillway, its overall length and whether two walls or one will have a waterfall are some of the decisions that needed to be made. To help the owners decide, I did a few sketches with some of the most common variations.

Prior to the waterfall decision was the Kurapia area. The space of the Kurapia after some discussion was increased from the original estimate. A larger “green space” was desired for important events that the homeowner wanted to start having now that he had a yard in which to entertain. Aside from the green space, a pad made from crushed granite as opposed to cement was constructed for their couch/ swing giving the area a more natural look, blending well with the Kurapia. We did pour a cement pad to place a spa, which completed their little corner retreat. The project was very detailed, needing several conversations to make sure all the needs/desires of both owners were being met. The reward of having a yard that is visually pleasing meeting the needs of both the husband and wife is worth the effort, especially if it comes with fresh baked cookies, which we received on several occasions!

Gardeners, at this point you can continue to harvest, or you can decide to get ready for fall. My favorite garden is the fall/winter garden. I like to let the ground  rest for a couple weeks, removing the veggies by Aug. 30 or sooner if they look spent; feed the soil with a complete (derived from a variety of sources) organic fertilizer, till it in, no deeper than 4 inches (do not want to disturb the soil biology), and water well. Let it sit until Sept. 15 when your fall/winter garden should start. Until next time – Good Gardening