One of the true eyesores of our yard was our driveway. Our yard to the south is bordered by our neighbor’s cow pasture, and it had a fence that was practical for keeping the cows in their yard most of the time, but that was it. Not only did it make weed whacking impossible as it was too easy to get tangled in the wire, but it also allowed the cows to munch down on whatever we planted. Apparently the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, especially when the grass is something you bought at a nursery.Then when the serious flooding started, the driveway strip became the dumping ground for wheelbarrow loads of silt dug out from other areas of the yard. This just compounded the problem because now it was too bumpy to mow or weed whack. It became an overgrown mess of weeds and tall grass. So our first task for Miller Farms was to redo this area with several goals in mind. First I wanted an attractive fence high enough to keep the cows grazing in their own yard. I also wanted the fence to be solid, to keep as much of the grass and weed seeds from blowing in as possible. Second, I wanted it on a concrete foundation so I could weed whack against it if needed, as well as keep the flood waters out and provide a more durable footing for the fence so it wouldn’t rot out. My goal in planting it was to have plants that didn’t need watering once they were established, as this are is a long way away from any faucets.
Once of the big problems we have with the flooding is that if we put mulch down to prevent weeds, the next flood just washes the mulch away and replaces it with the next crop of weeds. So we added a raised curb, effectively making the driveway a low raised bed. Then I added some gravel mixed with good garden soil to improve drainage.The entire area was covered with landscape fabric and then a thick layer of micro bark. This is the only effective way I’ve found short of laying concrete to keep the horsetails down. Not 100% effective, but I’m seeing them weaken and I think eventually I might win this battle.
Then we started the landscaping, first with several Rock Rose plants that I propagated from the original bush that was in the driveway strip. To that we added some California native plants, a redbud tree, and several Ceanothus “Skylark” bushes. These will take some time to fill out so for now it looks a bit empty.
Some of the Cerinthe that was planted in the area before has reseeded and is making its way through the gap of the cloth and fence. For now I’m letting it. It might be nice there, and in any case I want to collect some seeds in case I want it somewhere else.
We also made a trip to Centerville Beach to collect some driftwood to place at the entrance. In one piece I placed several small succulents into the log. Around that area we planted some Hidcote Lavender. I promise to do a better job pruning these as they grow so they don’t become leggy like the lavender on the other side of the driveway.
When that was all done, I decided to replace the cap of the fence. Miller Farms used a flat piece of pressure treated wood for the cap and it just didn’t look right. So I replaced it with a pitched roof of cedar, which should allow the water to flow off of it better. Then it was stained with a black cap and sort of a terra cotta on the sides.
Where I used to be embarrassed about our driveway, knowing that was the first impression people got coming to our house, now I love driving up to our house. It will only get better as the plants grow and fill in.