By Elizabeth Hanes BSN RN
Editor & Publisher, RN2writer
March 18, 2022

7 minutes to read


    La Vida Freelance: Landscaping Edition

    lvf landscape

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    At some point during my second year of home ownership back in Albuquerque, the irrigation system controller box in the back stopped working. I didn’t realize this until at least half of my plants were dead or dying.

    My “backyard” isn’t a yard, at all, but a lovely Mediterranean-style terrace. It’s mainly concrete terraces enclosed by a tall stucco wall. A dry riverbed of gravel and large stones runs between the patio and the wall, and it is here that the plants began dying off when deprived of water for who knows how long.

    Photo of a covered patio casting shadows across a dry riverbed in an Albuquerque backyard

    Between the covered patio and the terrace wall lies a dry riverbed in my backyard. Photo credit: Author

    Photo of my terrace, looking east toward the mountains

    My terrace, looking east. I’ve since planted a tree in that planter, as you can see in the picture above. Photo credit: Author

    If you’ve been following RN2writer for awhile, you know that my “pandemic summer” project of 2020 was painting that wall by hand. What a chore! I love physical labor, though, and I’m still quite proud of my work:

    Photo of a partly painted stucco wall, with white and blue paint

    It took me all summer, innumerable roller covers, and 10 gallons of good Sherwin-Williams paint to change the wall from white to pale blue. Photo credit: Author

    Since most of the plants died, I’ve dragged my feet on doing anything with the landscaping. I didn’t know what I wanted. I needed time to come up with a vision for this lovely space, and I spent many hours photographing the area and drawing ideas on the digital images to share with my friend, Judy.

    Photo of a concrete patio with a childish drawing of two lounge chairs and a patio umbrella

    Can you picture us lounging here, on my upper terrace? Photo credit: Author

    Photograph of a concrete patio with large terra cotta pots and a childish drawing of plants filling the pots

    Better yet, what if I could score some gigantic terra cotta pots and plant Italian cypress trees in them for a real Mediterranean effect?? Photo credit: Author

    As a matter of fact, I was able to score some enormous (and expensive) Impruneta pots from an estate sale high in the mountains to the east of us. I do intend to plant Italian cypress trees in them, but only after my landscaper and I figure out a way to tie them down so they don’t fall off the ledge in the first breeze and shatter.

    Over the course of time, my vision for this space as a Mediterranean/Moroccan paradise began to take shape. I could see the entire dry riverbed needed to go, in favor of something more “lush” that would nonetheless be water-conserving for our desert location.

    Today, my landscape crew arrived and began tearing out all the old plants and rocks. Not the big, specimen rocks. Let’s not go crazy. But all the gravel, etc., is a goner.

    Photo of landscapers removing gravel

    The horrid Japanese barberry bush (or, as I call it, the “attack plant”) has been ripped out, and gravel removal is in progress. Photo credit: Author

    This transformation could not take place without new irrigation, of course. Accomplishing that required bringing in a plumber to remove the old, illegal galvanized pipe outside the wall of the house and installing a new, poly line inside the wall. No more will I have to worry about that pipe freezing and bursting mid-winter!

    Photo of a plumber and his assistant replacing a pipe inside a wall

    My hero: the plumber and his assistant cut a hole in my stucco to replace the illegal water line with one that is tucked inside the wall and up to code. Photo credit: Author

    So, here is the current situation, as of this writing:

    Photo of dry riverbed with all rock removed

    Current sitch. Bare dirt. Photo credit: Author

    Now, the question is: What’s to come? What new design have my landscaper and I decided upon for the terrace?

    For the answer to that, you’ll have to wait and see. More photos to come, natch.

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    Elizabeth Hanes BSN RN

    Elizabeth Hanes BSN RN is the founder of RN2writer and publisher of RN2writer Daily.