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10 square feet for the neighbors

This week, I decided to start the process of converting the small island of turf between the street and the outer edge of the sidewalk. You know the place I'm talking about.

This type of place. I imagine at least 3-4M of the 50M acres of lawn in the US are these interstitial micro-spaces. This is close to the least amount of effort one can put in to make a "public" space. I mean, it's technically green, and definitely functions/looks better than just putting cement there. But it's also an ecologically dead space that could instead be a little corridor of beauty, ecological functionality, and abundance. All it takes is a little bit of money, and a little bit of effort. If money is an issue, then you can just supplement a little more effort and get the same effect.

Since this project has a small budget, and I want to learn as much as I can, I'm trying to keep each week's project to less than $100. If I convert approximately 100 sqft every week, then that comes out to $1/sqft. That seems like a nice round number to settle on.

This week I wanted to achieve two keys things:

  1. Provide an intentional place for our recycling and trash bins to sit on trash day.

  2. Convert the first 10 sqft area of turf to a line of native perennials.

I ain't trying get anyone covered in pollen every time they walk by my place, so I chose all plants that peak at less than 2 feet for this line of flowers.

  • Tickseed (1)

  • Lithodora (2)

  • Chrysanthemum (1)

  • Glaciar blue spurge (2)

For the design, I only have a 5' x 2' area to work with, so I figured I'd go in a hopscotch formation (1,2,1,2,1). At the (1) position I placed the chrysanthemum first and then the tickseed. In between them, I put the 2 lithodora and spurge.

To build the bed, I used an edging shovel to scrape up a layer of turf approximately 200 sqft. Then I tilled the area with a small electric tiller, and laid a layer of cardboard over the tilled ground.

To complete the area for the trash and recycling cans, I just spread out 3 small bags of pea pebbles. For the 100 sqft bed, I dug the holes for the plants, and mixed all the dirt I removed with a few bags of cheap top soil to create the soil I used to bury the plants. I finished by adding a bag of black compost to the top of the new bed.

Here' the final result:

In addition I bought 2 more mums to augment the 3 I already planted last week. I think I might be crowding the mums, but I'm really not certain the 3 transplanted ones are gonna come back, so I'm hedging my bets. Plus, with so many of the plants in this bed transplanted from other places in the yard, this gives the bed a little color this fall.

So, that's this week's project. I converted 200 sqft of turf into a 100 sqft pad for my trash and recycling cans, and a 100 sqft pollinator garden. Here are the final totals:

  • Mums (2) - $28

  • Tickseed - $14

  • Chrysanthemum - $4

  • Euphorbia (2) - $10

  • Lithodora (2) - $15

  • 2 cubic feet of black mulch - $4

  • 2 cubic feet of top soil - $4

  • 3 cubic feet of pea pebble - $12

Total: $91

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