Saturday, July 20, 2013

Much Ado About the Bald Spot in Our Yard

One of the unexpected perks of our house was the yard.  Somehow through two years of no on loving this house, the grass remained relatively decent... 

except for one little area, henceforth and evermore called, "the bald spot."

I'm sure a lot of houses have areas like this where the slope of the yard plus too much shade equals no grass.  In our area, there's very little dirt to begin with, and when it washes away, all that's left is shale... not so conducive to plant life. 

There is one plant (well, maybe several, but my knowledge of all things botanical is limited) that can grow pretty much anywhere...

Monkey grass!

I'm pretty sure if you dug some up and tossed it out on a rock, it would grow. Perfect for a dirt-bare, shale-ridden patch of grassless front yard.

There are many plants that couldn't tolerate being taken out of the ground and re-planted when it's 100 degrees outside, but monkey grass will do fine . (Transplanting is generally more survivable in the fall when it's cooler.)

We have a large, oddly placed mass of monkey grass plopped in the middle of the backyard, so we have plenty to move to the bald spot.  If you don't have a misshapen plot of monkey grass to pull from, odds are a friend or neighbor does, and they would be happy for you to take some.

Arm yourself with a mattock and a trowel, and you're ready to go!

Use the mattock or trowel to pull/dig up the monkey grass including the roots. I usually separate any large clumps into smaller sprigs.  They'll look something like this, depending on the variety of monkey grass:

See how the roots look?  Make sure they stay intact when you are digging up the sprigs.

Using your trowel, dig a hole a little wider and deeper than the roots.  For the one in the picture above, I would try to dig a hold about 2 inches wide and 1.5-2 inches deep.  Let me say that digging ideally-sized holes on rock is nigh impossible, so we would dig away as much as we could.

Place the sprig in the hole and hold it upright while you fill the hole. Once the hole is filled in, press gently around the base of the plant. 

Ta-da! You have planted monkey grass! Just lather, rinse, repeat for each sprig.

Plant the sprigs further apart than you think is necessary (3-4") to allow the plants to fill in over time.  Once you are finished planting the area, water them well.  (I watered ours daily until they got well established.)

Stand back, and enjoy the instant gratification of landscaping!

Don't be discouraged if the leaves just sort of flop to one side like ours did.  Once the roots get established, they'll stand more upright.

We had a bend in the sidewalk by the bald spot, so we created an arch-shape with the monkey grass.

We still had a long, skinny area bordering the sidewalk that was bare, so we continued planting in a straight line next to the cement all the way from the arch to the driveway.

The arch area was planted probably three weeks before the line along the sidewalk, so you can see what a difference a few weeks make in the thickness and shape of the plants.

It's a pretty simple, inexpensive project that can make a big difference.

Of course, any yard is made more perfect by the addition of a cute, little pup.

Happy planting!


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