Park(ing) Day is quickly approaching, are you ready? This is the annual day for communities to create temporary parklets to bring awareness about how awesome green space is. The action is pretty simple, you takeover a parking spot in a parking lot that is usually occupied by cars. You can transform the space with grass, plants, ping pong tables, benches or whatever you think makes the most sense. The best way to do it is to have tons of fun and be part of the surrounding community.
Hammocks are big...and when I say "big", I mean popular. I never realized how popular they are until I started doing residential projects. Of course, I can understand why! What’s not to love about swinging free in the afternoon breeze during the summer? For a recent project in Maplewood, NJ, the owner wanted to install a three steel columns to hook up his hammock, but the columns were eliminated because of tightening of the budget. Well, his love for relaxing in a hammock wasn't diminished due to budgetary restraints, so we continued to talk about how to get his hammock up in his yard.
The first idea was to use two 4x4 bolted together because the Tim, the owner of the hammock, is a big guy. But when I went to buy the lumber, I saw 6x6s were in stock. Hence, the stuff in my truck….one 6x6 and two bags of cement.
The installation was fast and easy only taking about 2 hrs. The hardest and longest part was digging a hole 36inches deep for the 6x6. The 36 inches is to get below the frost line to eliminate vertical movement of the post from the ground freezing and melting.
Then, it's pretty straightforward. Insert the 6x6. We used fast setting concrete, so you just put the cement into the hole and mix with water. Versus, pre-mixing the concrete before putting it in the hole. This saves lots of time. We need to wait 30 minutes after the concrete was mixed to let it set. Also, we made sure everything was square both in the vertical and horizon. Lastly, we screwed in the hook into the post.
Tim had to wait one more day to allow the concrete to cure before he was able to actually use his hammock. After that, swing at will and relax. Just in time to enjoy the late summer heat in the shade.
Every yard has that spot (or spots) that could use a little love. An example is the narrow strip of land between a fence and driveway….or in the backyard against the house that just seems forgotten. It could be any number of places. Maybe you’ve tried to grow something there…maybe the spot just seems to difficult to do anything. These areas can go from eye sore to spectacular…and it can all start from seed.
This summer, I’ve had two clients as for a yard design that resembles the High Line public park in NYC. If you’ve ever been to the Highline, you’re probably not surprised that people want the park in their backyard. It’s really amazing! The park is located on an abandoned elevated train line along the lower west side of Manhattan. It was collaboration of James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Piet Oudolf and showcases contemporary and traditional ideas about landscapes, urban design & life and plants. The project has completely redefined the area and gets millions of visitors.
Transplanting the park to a yard is a big feat. Though the park is narrow in many parts, it is also very long allowing for lots of space for plantings and features. It also has the West Village and Chelsea as a backdrop while the viewer is elevated above the city. The vantage point is much farther than if the park was on the ground. People love the mix of modern lines with a focus on perennial & native plants, the sense of fullness as the design maximizes every nook and cranny along the revamped train line. I find the translation from urban setting to suburban yard challenging and fun. So I thought I’d show you how it can be done.
Your Yard + Milkweed = Save the Monarch Butterfly! It’s really that simple. If you want to express your environmentalism and love for nature all at the same time, all you have to do is plant milkweed which will help save an entire species! Once upon a time, milkweed was all the rage for home gardens, but lately (even though sustainability has grown in popularity), milkweed has been in decline. Every project I work on, I suggest the client plant milkweed. It’s a gorgeous flowering plant that is native and can be used in rain gardens or in beds. It spreads to become a nice thick body…and it’s essential for the survival of Monarch butterflies as they migrate from their northern terrorities to their southern homes.
This week I found a sale on Blazing Stars (Liatris spicata) aka Gayfeathers. These flowers rock (I’m assuming using the term “rock” dates me)! Whenever I found deals, I have a call list of people I reach out to tell. It’s a great way to get those extra plants you’ve been looking for, but just haven’t gotten around it buying. One of my friends took me up on the offer to pick up six for his yard. Buying the blazing stars on sale saved him $40. The flowers got to ride in style in my backseat with the air-conditioner pumping. We are starting to redefine his front yard with natives and perennials. These blazing stars will help to get the ball rolling.
Blazing Stars are an amazing perennial, native flower that grows between 24 to 48 inches high. It blooms a wonderful violet (and sometimes blooms pinkish or red-purplish) along a long bud. The pellets are fuzzy and soft. It attracts butterflies and birds and is deer/rabbit tolerant (though, deer sometimes eat it). It’s great for rain gardens while also performing well in dry conditions. There’s almost no maintenance necessary, except the usual weeding any planted bed needs from time to time. It can take a season or two to establish if planted as a small seedling. I have about 10 that haven’t grown more than an inch this year that I planted as small seedlings. Once it gets its roots in the ground, it becomes a showy, colorful flower that will make your garden pop.
Blazing Star prefers full sun, but will grow in partial shade. In shade, it doesn’t bloom as long as in sunshine though. The hue of its flower and leaves go well with grasses such as a Red Rooster or Karl Foerster if you plant them among the flower. A combination of blazing stars with coneflowers can really make your garden sing, too.
If you want to get on my call list for the next time I find deals on plants and other goodies, send me your info via my contact form. I will text you when I find things of interest, so your mobile number is preferred. Usually, I send out the notice when I’m already at the nursery/shop/store/etc, so you’ll need to get back to me fast or I may already be gone. I can always shoot you a picture of the item if you need to see it first. I can either drop it off at your house (as long as you live within Maplewood, South Orange, Millburn area) and you can DIY it from there. Or, I can have the items planted for you for an additional fee.
The goal is to make this blog a resource for helpful tips and sustainable ideas. I create original content that shows projects in progress and the behind-the-scenes of installation. And, I try to have as much fun as I can doing it.