Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.

Front yard from scratch, Part I

Posted by: under Transplanting + dividing Updated: October 13, 2009 - 10:05 AM

By Holly Collier, Guest blogger

My 1951 St. Paul rambler came with ugly foundation shrubs: straggly potentilla, barberry with spike thorns, and some nondescript evergreens. I pretended to love them because they were encased in layers of crushed limestone. Then the juniper died and volunteer maple trees and stinging nettle sprouted in the limestone. But the thought of digging out all that rock drove me to garden in the back yard instead.

Then, overnight a huge hole appeared in the front yard. On Facebook, I asked if Minnesota had sinkholes. The responses were entertaining. Voles? Garden gnomes? Hobbits? Buried treasure? I wish.

I called the city to find out that I probably had a broken sewer line, which meant a $3,000 repair and redoing the entire front yard. Well, this was my chance to plan a garden makeover. But first, I had to deal with the limestone.

I've decided that the road to purgatory is paved with crushed limestone. As soon as I whined on Facebook about removing the stuff, friends were commiserating. It’s backbreaking work, as you probably know. I shoveled bins and buckets and posted “free rock” ads on Free Market, Freecycle and Craiglist.  I was exhausted and discouraged. And I’d only just begun.

Then my high-energy gardener boyfriend showed up with his high-energy brother. Within minutes, we were raking and shoveling rocks assembly-line style into a wheelbarrow. A few hours and a quick trip to Chipotle later, the three of us (OK, mostly the two of them) finished the task. But both guys were in the military, so that might have contributed to their divide-and-conquer approach. Thanks T and C. And thank you, U.S. Marine Corps, if you had anything to do with teaching these guys how to clear rocks at a speedy clip.

And thanks to the online ad watchers who carted the rock away. Here are some options if you have landscape rock that you'd like to disappear:  http://www.gertens.com/learn/gertensresfacility http://www.co.ramsey.mn.us/ph/rt/a_to_z_disposal_guide_l.htm#landscape-rocks

What are your suggestions for dealing with landscape rock? Do you clean it and reuse it? What do you use instead?

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