Busting A Concrete Move (and the search for step-able groundcovers).

Last weekend my husband went to the hardware store and came home with a sledgehammer!  I knew what this meant:  the concrete curb in the middle of our yard was coming down.  Yippee!

Evidently it used to be a “cabana” tent area, and the curb had holes for tent poles.

As cool as a cabana tent sounds, we never saw ourselves having one (or putting it there if we did.)

We did, however, see ourselves tripping over the curb in a frenzy to grab the perfect fig from the fig trees some afternoon or after a margarita or two some evening.  In addition to being potentially dangerous, we also though it just looked odd and closed off the space:

(these photos were taken last July when we first came to look at the apartment – hence the long grass and unraked leaves…nice to see some GREEN, though!)

Here’s another shot of it:

Fortunately for us our landlord agreed and gave us the go-ahead to “get rid of it.”

It was pretty incredible to watch (no, I didn’t take a turn at the bat) and the whole thing was finished much faster than I would have imagined it possible.  Each piece of the curb cracked pretty easily into halves, which Charlie was able to break up or dig out of the ground.  The hardest part seemed to be moving the concrete chunks away afterwards.  Half of them are now lining the end of our driveway and the other half are temporarily at the back of the yard.  Even so, the space looks so much more open without that curb! (Although bare naked without any tree foliage and with those fig trees pruned back so much.)

Miraculously, that very day I saw an ad on FreeCycle – someone had done a huge garden renovation and was giving away fill dirt!  Once Charlie took the out the curb, we were left with an empty “moat” around the circle, so free fill dirt was music to my ears.  It’s times like these, though, that I do wish we had a car.  It just comes with the territory of living in NYC that sometimes you’re going to call a car service and ask for a mini van, and when they show up you’re going to have an old sheet and 6 contractor bags of soil.

If we knew someone with a truck or some movers with great rates, I would have stocked up on more in a heartbeat.  We simply didn’t have a way to inexpensively transport it.  That, plus each bag was at least 50 pounds…not an easy task to load and unload.

We got enough to fill in the area and still have a little to spare for my half-wine barrels, though!

Now we are looking for something to plant in that dirt, and in the other scrappy looking areas of  the “lawn.”  Last year grass didn’t grow so well in the front half of the yard because the fig trees cast so much shade.  We’re not really sure what to expect this year.  We’re looking into some low-growing ground covers, at least for around the circle.

Right now we’re considering some combination of:

Blue Star Creeper

Blue Star Creeper close up:

Creeping Jenny:

Creeping Thyme:

More Creeping Thyme:  

Silene acaulis Moss Campion:  

Veronica oltensis Miniature Speedwell:  

Veronica repens:  

or maybe even some MOSS.  This is sort of what we may be going for:

http://www.steppables.com claims to have several plants (including those I’ve listed above) that can handle a small degree of foot traffic, and http://www.mossacres.com sells “moss millkshakes.”  Hmmm.


I guess mulch is always an option too!

Anyone have any experience with any of those plants?


8 thoughts on “Busting A Concrete Move (and the search for step-able groundcovers).

  1. Thanks, Frank!

    We think so too and are glad to be rid of it. It will look much better once everything starts to fill in as well.

    Laguna Dirt – thanks for stopping by! We do have a pretty cool space back there, even in spite of the concrete. We contemplated trying to take out the entire circle, but decided against it for now. Husband was thinking maybe the table goes there, but I see a fire pit in the fall…we’ll see!

  2. Pingback: Little By Little « Red Garden Clogs

  3. I love freecycle. I always comb through those posts in search of something I could use. Last year from freecycle, we got a lilac bush and a climbing rose bush. How awesome that you got free fill!

    • WOW – a climbing rose and a lilac on freecycle?? That is fantastic.

      There is a community garden (I used to have a plot there) in Park Slope that has an incredible plant sale every May…all spring the members are dividing their perennials or digging up something to put a new something in…and they sell all these divisions and plants and shrubs REALLY cheaply – like the $2 – $5 neighborhood. All money goes right back into the garden, so it supports a good cause too. I’ll try and find out when they’re having their sale this year – I think it was around Mother’s Day last year – and will post the info here.

      The garden is on 6th Ave by 15th Street in Park Slope.

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