Original design and installation by Andrew Brooks.
One of the aspects of 31-81 that attracted us as buyers was the non-paved back yard. Considering that urban life is very dense without much greenspace, it was important for us to restore our backyard to something less urban.
Phase 1: Cleanup
Steps taken prior to the design and implementation included:
- Excavation and removal of buried concrete slabs, large rocks, pavers and pieces of cinderblock. These pieces had been buried by the previous owner at various depths all throughout the previously paved yard.
- Balancing, adding to and treating the existing soil with organic fertilizers and peat moss;
- Removal of existing dead/dying grass, weeds while preserving three existing Rose of Sharon, one rose bush (planted two owners ago) and a full sized tree;
- Utilized mulch to outline and edging to further define the new lawn design.
Phase 2: Design Implementation
Trees, bushes, plants and ground cover were all chosen because they were either native to New York or the region’s climate. As a result the garden is frequented by a number of beneficial insects such as butterflies, honeybees and fireflies.
- Kentucky Blue sod installation;
- Planted a mini Dogwood, China Girl (ilex), White Carpet and Wild Red Roses, Rose of Sharon, Clumping Bamboo, Tiger Lillies, Azalia, Rhododendron, Hydrangia, Lantana, ailanthus altissima (tree of heaven) Lilac (syringa), pansy, Hosta, Boston Ivy and Virginia Creeper;
- Planted Phlox, French and Spanish Lavender, Dusty Miller, Portulaca, Pink Beauty Caladium, Gladiolus, Dahlias, Canna, Daylily, Tuberose, New Guinea Impatiens and Astilbe;
Phase 3: Finishing touches
The last phase of the initial project involved installing the following non-plant items for storage and functionality:
- Constructed and installed a Cedarshed Banff shed (now called Bayside);
- Incorporated a “hidden” Envirocycle Composter.
- Assembled a 2 person Adirondack bench (from the National Wildlife catalog);
- Installed a Lyman Whitaker wind sculpture;
- Solar hanging lanterns by Twilight Outdoor Lighting (www.twilightlighting.com – model CSNEE-41).
Phase 4: Grow!
- The garden gets a fresh coat of wood mulch each spring (to naturally suppress weeds and retain moisture) and fall (to help insulate the plants during the winter).
- Trees, bushes and shrubs are pruned and shaped.
- Pesticides have been avoided since the gardens inception, pest control has been accomplished using tactics such as releasing ladybugs; sprinkling milky spore; lemongrass and eucalyptus misting.
This project has accomplished:
Reduction of ambient heat behind the building;
Air conditioners are not used as often;
Dramatically improved storm water drainage; and
Provides a unique (to Astoria) backdrop for 31-81 residents.