Saturday, March 20, 2021

Loving These Greenscapes Tree Watering Bags!

This is the first spring for my baby trees that were put into this new construction lot in October. I want them to grow as fast as possible because we moved away from the other house we built just as the trees were getting big enough to really enjoy, and now we're starting all over. I also feel very competitive and need my trees to live and grow faster than my neighbor's trees. 

greenscapes tree watering bags

At our old house, we had 3 trees and I could easily slow water them with the hose in an afternoon. Now with (adding them up in my head) 6 trees in my yard and another 3 in the common area next to my house, slow watering with a hose isn't really an option. 

Oh, did I mention that I'm going to baby the trees on the hill that aren't even mine? Yeah I figure even though they are in the common area, my house is the only one that borders them and I have a huge incentive to make sure they grow gorgeous and huge. It's a great situation and one of the reasons we liked this lot so much, we can enjoy these trees but not have to pay for them if they get damaged or need limbs removed down the road. 

green bag on tree to water

If you don't know about tree watering bags, the idea is that you can fill them up quickly with water and then the water slowly seeps out into the root ball where it is not wasted to runoff and all 20 gallons of water go exactly where you want it to. The bags also prevent some loss to evaporation, and while they are around the base of the tree can help protect from being hit by lawnmowers and help to regulate temperature during periods of repeated freezing and warming. 

bag at base of tree to fill with water

To install, you just put the bag around the base of the tree like a little jacket and zip it up one side. Then fill the opening at the top and the horse shoe shaped pouches fill with water surrounding the trunk of the tree. In about 6 hours the water slowly drips through the bottom of the bag slow watering the tree. It takes a couple minutes to fill each bag, and then I can sit back and watch them get a slow drink the rest of the day without constantly moving the hose and adjusting the flow from tree to tree. 

tree watering bags in front yard

Plus, an added bonus, I kinda like the look - I hope it makes the neighbors stop and ask "wait, what does this guy know that I don't?" Tree watering bag flex!

Establishing a New Landscaping Bed from Scratch

Spring is here! It's so exciting to again have a blank canvas yard in a new construction house. It looks like the sod is waking up and that it survived the winter even though it was installed in late November. From what I can tell all my trees made it as well. This blog post is about shaping and creating a brand new landscaping bed from scratch where there was only grass before. 

new sod waking up in spring

new sod waking up in spring

photo of the back of navy blue two story house

My dad and I have been plotting this winter, and he drafted me up a plan for what to do with the blank backyard. This first bed I'm installing is going to wrap around the morning room facing south, and will eventually have boxwood and a Sweet Bay Magnolia on the west side facing the neighbor's house. 

landscaping plans

The plan was to cut out the shape of the bed, remove the sod, and repurpose the sod to the bottom of the yard where they seeded but the seed all washed away. It was still easy to see the outline of individual sod pieces. They were relatively easy to pull up and roll, but the grass roots had already started gripping into the clay soil beneath. 

removing squares of new sod showing dirt underneath

before photo showing where landscaping bed will go

repurposing sod at bottom of yard

After hours of rolling up sod that had started to root in, I would develop an overuse injury in my wrist. A landscaping injury! I ended up buying a brace and everything, it got pretty bad and was sore for a whole week. 

To shape the bed edge I'm using a flat edging tool rather than a shovel that has a curved shape. Sometimes I lay out a hose on the ground to map out the shape ahead of time and then cut along it, but for this bed I just eyeballed it and tried to follow straight lines. In hindsight this is actually my first straight bed edge, I'm usually a fan of the gradual flowy line shape, but I think it's growing on me looking slightly more formal and tight.

shape of new landscaping bed before adding topsoil

shape of new landscaping bed with sod removed

back view of house half way through project

After cutting the shape, my next task is moving the internet cable that is buried exactly where the roots of boxwood shrubs are going to go. I'm kicking myself for not just burying it myself. After the internet company comes out and they say they'll be back to bury it and it takes them like 6 weeks - I should have just put it where I wanted it, because now it's exactly in the wrong place and it's a pain in the ass to CAREFULLY dig back up and move 2 feet. 

photo of buried internet cable in dirt

digging a trench to remove a cable

putting cable next to house to keep it safe

backyard bed before adding topsoil

With the cable safely tucked up against the house, it's in a place that no shovel or plant will ever touch. On either side I put a rock on my bed edge so that I know not to chop down there with a spade. I like using rocks for decoration and to remind me what's underneath. I cut a straight edge down so that the mulch will eventually slope down meeting a wall of earth, rather than simply being on top of the grass. This will discourage grass runners and shoots into the sod without installing a landscaping fabric or metal border.

backyard bed edge before mulch

Next it's time to amend the soil. I asked my dad if I should rent one of those soil tillers and he said with the clay don't bother, just work on building up the bed with some good topsoil. This back bed is 4.25 feet deep and 25 feet wide in the back, and 6 feet deep and 12.5 feet wide on the west side. That's a total of about 180 square feet! 

bags of mulch and topsoil in back of SUV

not enough topsoil

adding topsoil to new landscaping bed

I ended up making two trips to Lowes loading up the SUV, in total I got 12x two cubic foot bags of mulch, 10x 0.75 cubic foot bags of topsoil, and 10x one cubic foot bags of topsoil. I definitely could have used more topsoil, and the bags of mulch were barely enough for a dusting across the whole thing. In retrospect, using a mulch calculator, I should have gotten at least 15x two cubic foot bags of mulch for 180 square feet for a 2 inch layer. 

black mulch in new landscaping bed

black mulch in new landscaping bed

finished product new landscaping bed

Wonderful! Now it's time to ice my poor forearm from all the sod ripping and mulching. This year I'm not installing any plants until it's done freezing. I was fooled last year and ran out to buy hydrangea in March only to have them freeze in early April. That will give this new bed time to settle and I might even add more topsoil and mulch on top before actually planting in it. 

Project Total: $90.13 in mulch and topsoil