≡ This post continues the coverage of our front yard desert garden project. ≡
After the pittosporum hedge was removed the 6x48 ft, planting strip outside the fence was ready for the next step: arrival of the soil. I wanted the area to be raised by a foot to ensure good drainage in the winter—not that this dreadfully dry winter posed much of a challenge in that respect. Based on my calculations, I ordered a total of 10 cubic yards of soil. I chose a mixture of screened topsoil, amended garden soil, and coarse paver sand (5 : 3 : 2 cubic yards). Since this strip bakes in the sun pretty much all day, I didn’t want to the soil to dry out too quickly so I opted for a somewhat richer mix (the screened top soil has clay in it). The goal was to find a good balance between drainage and water retention: If the mix dries out too quickly, the plants won’t thrive, but if it’s too heavy, they might rot in the winter. I’m fairly confident I’ve got the balance right, but time will tell.
While I was hoping to have some extra soil to transfer to the back yard for other projects, I was still surprised by much 10 cubic yards are! The truck driver did a good job depositing most of the soil on the planting strip, but a fair amount ended up on the sidewalk.
10 cubic yards of soil
It looks even scarier from this angle…
Gray = paver sand, tan = screened topsoil, darker brown = amended garden soil
The first order of business was shoveling the soil off the sidewalk as quickly as possible to avoid complaints from the neighbors. We hauled countless wagon and wheelbarrow loads to the back yard and other areas of the front yard. Several hours later the sidewalk was reasonably clear.
Sidewalk almost clear
Since then, we’ve been hauling more dirt to other parts of our property, and the sidewalk is now completely clear.
The next step is contouring the berm, compressing the soil and flattening out the top so it doesn’t look like a miniature mountain range. Then I’ll install the drip line, and planting can begin. Things should look much different the next time I post an update!