This summer heat, humidity, and assorted family issues have kept me behind in most of my goals. One of which was expanding the side border garden so that the caryopteris wasn't completely absorbing the whole area. I tend to take a more conservative approach to pruning my caryopteris and consequently I didn't prune them back enough this spring. They responded by getting large and stretching their limbs beyond the previous stone border edging. I like their current size - large enough for an awesome impact once the flowers begin to bloom. I had to compensate for the extra growth somehow which meant reclaiming the hidden border and adding mulch.
I decided to use some pine straw mulch. I've spread pine straw mulch before but generally lean toward the hardwood mulches. My decision was based on a couple factors: 1) ease of spreading - pine straw mulch goes on fast and is very light and 2) it's cheap! At $4 a bale it only took about $20 to cover this area.
I wanted a cheap mulch because this area flooded once and washed my mulch completely away - I wasn't happy. I expanded the border garden by pulling the stone border that was there out about 18-24 inches. I removed as many weeds as possible then covered the areas beneath the stones with a thick layer of newspaper. That should discourage weeds from growing through the stones for a while.
On top of the newspaper went the straw mulch which was laid fairly thick - about 4-5 inches deep. It will compact over time and a little height keeps the mulch nice and thick.
This weekend I wrote a post called The Long View. In it I talked about looking at different perspectives in the garden to figure out what improvements to make. I used this area as an example and included a picture of the border garden before my weekend improvements. Take a look back and compare how this garden looks now versus what it looked like before. Then tell me what kinds of improvements you would recommend!
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