Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Nature Strip Makeover - Spectating not Labouring

Oh My, this event has been a long time coming.  I've been hanging my head in shame over the state of our nature strip for years.   It was, at one point, an example of the typical 1950's suburban dream to have every blade of grass under strict control, mowed in the one direction and each blade never ever longer than a uniform few inches, edge whipper snipped to perfection and in front of a picket fence, no less.

Which makes me laugh when i read this blog post that Jessie from rabidlittlehippy forwarded:  Circle of Life

Well the 15 year drought ruined the above for all of us. Our garden went from lush green to brown dirt very quickly when water restrictions prevented any watering and then came the weeds.

A couple of weeks ago Hubby worked very long down in Tasmania and his wage was much larger than normal.  What didn't go into paying the visa off (YEAH!!!!!), or was taken by the taxman (grumble grumble) was allocated by yours truly into getting the nature strip done.  One very large job, which would have taken us a month of weekends to do with shovels, hiring a pickup truck and then a fortune in Chiro or Physio bills to fix our backs, off our very long list of DIY jobs to do.  I tried to have it done while he was away as a surprise and a reward for working so hard but i found you just cant call a tradie and expect them to be available the same week.  DOH!.

Craig to the rescue.  That would be Craig from Edible Gardens.  He being the presenter of many of the courses that i have attended and posted about in this very blog including preserving foods, caring for fruit trees, keeping chickens, and making feta cheese.  Craig is also the Production Manager of the Werribee Park Heritage Orchard  and you can see his goofy mug on Vasili's Garden to Kitchen - Episode 93197.

This program highlighted not only the Orchard but also Craig's espaliered fruit trees in his suburban backyard.  So while i had him on site we did the "garden walk" and we talked about where to plant my future fruit trees (peaches, nectarines, apples, cherries and grape vines). Craig told me today that due to the feedback from his last TV appearance he will soon be doing a regular segment on the show.   Go Craig!!!   I'm sure that one day I'll be able to say "I knew you when"!   Perhaps i should get him to make his mark out their somewhere!

Edible Gardens does landscaping and though he prefers to focus on food producing projects he kindly agreed to help me out with this very non-food producing nature strip.  It has been such an eyesore for so long with several cubic metres of clay hand dug and barrowed from the hard stand area inside the fence to the front strip.  It grew quickly to a large mound and a crop of weeds grew just as quickly over the top.  At the other end was a pile of gravel left over from a concreting project that had also been left and consumed by yet more weeds. I think the local dogs assumed it was a toilet because we seem to have more than our fair share of dog turds out there.  Pity our neighbours.  What were they saying behind our backs?

Psssss! Have you seen their nature strip.  Its a disgrace, they should be ashamed of themselves.  It really does bring the neighbourhood property values down and makes the streetscape atrocious!

Does anyone actually talk like this, or is it only me!!!

And so it began, following of course a full night of rain after two beautiful dry days.  It rained enough to close the local clean fill depot to all traffic and the need for some quick phone work to find another location to dump the soil.  Geoff (note contact details on side of Kanga) luckily got into the Sunshine Depot.   For all my overseas and interstate readers, don't you just love the name of that suburb.  Imagine being overseas and someone asking where you live and you say "Sunshine".  I can tell you there are many parts of Sunshine that don't resemble anything remotely like the images you are thinking of but there are also some good parts, somewhere, I'm told.

Once started i could quickly see why Geoff enjoys his work.  His little Kanga Digger is heaps of fun.  Add some water to clay and its more fun than a funpark.  Those little wheels were full of wet clay and he was spinning on the tiles and sliding with each turn.  Am i paying this guy?

Half our strip is tiled as a permanent car park across the road from a school.  Before Tom got his car it was used and abused by all and sundry and had big holes on either side of the tiled park where cars would run up the neighbours driveway across our strip and then drive off our driveway.  How Rude!  We tried filling the holes but 4WD tyres just kept digging it up.  Around the corner from us they have resorted to putting big boulders in place and one neighbour has actually put short star picket stakes (which i find very dangerous and ugly).

Have you noticed how many drop offs and pickup at schools are done in really big 4WDs that have probably never seen dirt in their lives and the only hill they are going to climb is a speed hump at the supermarket? Anyway, we have fixed their little red wagon as it is now the permanent parking space for Tom's little RAV4.  "That's a 4WD" i hear you shout, YES, but its a itty bitty little one and i can tell you it has seen so much dirt that when we took the rear wheel off the other day, half a paddock fell out and when you give it a wash there is so much dirt in all the crevices of the doors that the water runs brown.  It will take some time and a few more washes to suburbanise it.

Looking very industrial with just the road base.  Topping and compacting to go.   We built the tree box out of  sleepers - it matches the plinth at the bottom of the picket fence.  Very anal, aren't we.  
Is this boring for you all?  Is it like watching paint dry?  Oh well, grin and bear it as its a personal record of a house project.  We tend to do a few of them and we are excited to be spectators on this one instead of the normal work horses.

Now that looks a lot better.   Clean and neat.  All ready for the first dog to walk past and leave a deposit for us to pick up. Gross!    Don't be fooled by all that green on the other strips.  They are all weeds and only look good from a distance.

Both immediate neighbours have been out for an inspection and given the thumbs up.   Now we need to decide what to do about that big pine tree.  It was a foot high when we put it in and it just keeps on getting bigger.  It sucks all the moisture from the front yard and we end up with huge cracks in summer.   I do like that it gives the house balance but its just too big!  What do you think?  Oh, of course all the real gardening takes place out the back with my raised veggie beds, chickens, worm farm, compost and assortment of potted citrus.  Soon there will be fruit but i need to put in some big free standing trellises.  I'll just add that to the DIY list, shall i.

Thanks for visiting Living In The Land of Oz


  1. Your nature strip looks great. Afraid I'm not very good at decisions re removing/leaving trees. I am with you on the 4WD story - you would know them as Toorak Tractors no doubt!

  2. Great job with the nature strip. It certainly looks nice and neat now.

    Sorry I have no advice for the tree, I will leave that one up to you :)


  3. Loath as I am to kill a pine, this tree is in the wrong place Lynda and is going to become an eyesore along with a hazard. Sorry to say it is going to have to come out. Why don't you plant espaliered fruit trees all along your front fenceline? Fruit, beauty and privacy all rolled into one? The one benefit I see to your new verge frontage (aside from the free parking) is that come summer you aren't going to have to waste precious water on it. Glad hubby is back alive and well...with an unofficial unemployment rate of 28% things are tough in Tassie, he might have been eaten by the natives! ;)

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    2. Does that mean that the 12 Electricians from VIC came down and took work away from 12 Electricians from TAS. That's not good, is it. Yes, i want fruit trees in the front as well but we have an agreement. He has the front and i have the back and neither of us can complain about the other. Craig suggested lovely cherry trees along the fence. That would be good. I dont think Hubby has our vision. Whatever becomes of the front yard, it will be low maintenance. Hubby likes the pine for one reason only and that is that his car is parked on the other side of the fence and thus gets shade from it. Mine, being black, is in full sun.

  4. Wow, that looks fantastic! Well done - I bet you keep going out and gazing at it and gloating - that's what I do whenever a renovation project is finally completed.
    I do agree, the pine tree has to go. Pine tree roots are legendary for wrecking plumbing pipes as well as draining all moisture from you garden. What about a citrus hedge across the front? We have six lemons planted along our back fence, in a metre wide garden bed, and after three years or so, they are growing together and look just like a proper hedge (except with lemons...)

  5. How about an orange tree? If planted carefully it may well provide some sun and the oranges can stay ont eh tree when ripe which holds them in stasis for a few weeks I think. not to mention they look SPECTACULAR! There's one at Diggers that I bought today called a Cara Cara navel orange. It's a navel orange (no duh) and a blood orange rolled into 1. :) or a cherry tree? They can get big enough to offer shade and look spectacular in spring. Aside from puning it there isn't too much work. In fact any of the Rosaceae fruit trees are pretty in spring. Apples, pears, etc.
    And love the new look nature strip too. May the dogs decide that road base is not to their liking.


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