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Boulevard Garden : Year 2

Midwestern Boulevard Garden
Hey Guys! So if you’ve been following along with the blog you may remember last year when I overhauled the boulevard garden. I had originally planted the garden in 2010, but I had no idea what I was getting into. The garden was not thriving and poorly organized. At the beginning of last summer I came up with a new boulevard plan and began ripping out the old garden, leaving what worked but adding a lot of new plants.

The boulevard garden has been my biggest gardening challenge – a definite exercise in trial and error. There are a lot of gardening obstacles when it comes to boulevard gardening. As common on many boulevards, we have a tree (maple) with a big root system, many of the roots hang out close to the surface of the garden making it difficult for plants to grow. In the winter our Minneapolis boulevards are piled high with snow and the salt used on the streets affects the acidity of the soil. Water is necessary for any garden but on the boulevard rain water repels off the boulevard making its way to sewer drains without having a chance to deeply soak the soil. It takes some foresight to consider irrigation and plan trenches to keep mulch and water inside the garden so it’s not spilling into the street and sewers. It sucks, but some people don’t give a shit about my garden, they throw trash and cigarettes butts in it, and they walk right over plants – it’s just the risk we have to take for a pretty boulevard. Lastly, boulevards and weeds are BFF’s, it’s a constant struggle to keep them looking tidy, neat, and dandelion free.

So I’ve learned a few things a long the way, and I thought I’d share a little of what has been working for me.

Midwestern Boulevard Garden
I was so happy and surprised this spring to see a lot of my garden returning and looking more hardy then I had ever seen it. I did have a few casualties but they were minor – I honestly expected most of the garden to be gone like had happened in the past. The Iris are very happy on the boulevard, I wish they bloomed all summer because I would fill the garden with them – as it is, I already have too many. All of my ground cover came back, I used Golden Money wort and Purple Lamium throughout the garden. The Sedum are thriving, and the Dianthus have doubled. The Phlox also survived the winter and I’m anticipating mid-summer blooms. In my experience Salvia is nearly indestructible and seems to be right at home on the boulevard. The Blue Fescue did pretty well, out of the six I planted, one of them is looking worse for wear. I’m gonna see if he can come around over the next few weeks, but if not, I will replace him. The biggest causality were a few Hostas that I had planted near the base of the tree. I replaced them with Lupine this spring and amended the soil with plenty of compost. I hope they are happy here, but am prepared to see them only for a season. This is the trickiest spot in the garden.

I waited a long while before I tidied up the garden this year. The boulevard maple was dropping all of it’s seeds and flowers, all lime green in color. I didn’t want to spent the time cleaning the garden just to have it littered with that tree’s filth – “How dare you, Tree!” I spent the last few days doing some intense weeding, pulling the weeds up from their roots. This is the key to weeding, you need to get the roots out of your garden or they will grow back within days. I also took my edger and dug a 3″ trench around the perimeter of the garden allowing a place for the mulch to collect when it rains so it doesn’t skim off into the street and sidewalks. I mulched well, covering a bit more than I do in my normal flower beds (about 2″). I really want the plants roots to be shaded and cool. The deep covering of mulch will allow for good water retention as well. I’ve also made a promise to this garden and tree that I will water it twice a week all summer long. I highly neglected it in the past, I’m going to do right by this garden this year. I’m going for an even prettier and happy boulevard garden in 2015!

Midwestern Boulevard Garden

Midwestern Boulevard Garden
The Iris and Salvia next to a stone pathway.

Midwestern Boulevard Garden
Blue Fescue in the foreground, Sedum, Dianthus and Iris towards the back.

Midwestern Boulevard Garden

Midwestern Boulevard Garden

Midwestern Boulevard Garden
Here’s to hoping this new Lupine is happy hear on the boulevard.

So I wanna know, what works best in your boulevard garden? What are your experiences – I’m sure readers who are wanting to try their hand at a boulevard garden would love to hear your take on it. I’m looking to add some late summer blooming plants – any recommendations on what would do well here?

26 comments
in gardening, Outdoor




26 comments… add one
  • Rebecka June 4, 2014

    Whoa, very impressed.

  • Sheree June 4, 2014

    It looks lovely! What I expect to see of professionally landscaped boulevards around the lakes! It appears that your boulevard is wider than average- is that so, or does it just look wider with the mulch and flowers? I’m very close to trying a boulevard garden this summer. We lost so much grass on the boulevard that it really needs an upgrade- but my space looks a lot narrower than yours. Thanks for sharing!

    • Scoops June 5, 2014

      Awh, Thanks Sheree! I would say that our boulevard is roughly 3.5 feet. I know they vary in sizes though, my friend was just telling me that her boulevard on grand ave is really narrow. I had never noticed! I hope that info helps.

  • Emmy June 4, 2014

    Looks awesome! Maybe you know already, but I just learned this spring. Lupines need innoculant when they’re first planted. Now I know why mine failed the last two years.

    • Scoops June 5, 2014

      Emmy! I had no idea about the inoculant – thanks for the tip! I will start doing some research on that right now, and product you recommend?

  • Stephanie June 4, 2014

    This looks great! I just dug up the few remaining living hostas from our boulevard garden this spring and moved them to another spot. Now we’re left with a weed and mulch bed on the boulevard that desperately needs some attention. I’ll have to try a few of these!

    • Scoops June 5, 2014

      Hey Stephanie! Yes, you should. Def try the iris or sedums if you are looking for something that is easy and happy on the boulevard. They are thriving out there, just make sure you get some sun throughout the day.

  • Kathy June 4, 2014

    We removed our hostas from the boulevard this year too. They were not at all happy there. I appreciate the idea to wait until the maples have dropped all thier stuff before doing the boulevard. I really wish we had waited. Our mulch is covered with little green specks everywhere. Oh well, next year. Also considering strawberry plants, with fences and signs to hopefully keep the dogs out.

    • Scoops June 5, 2014

      Hey Kathy! Yeah, I know, those maples are the worst. I learned my lesson last year. I too mulched and then the seedlings fell. Yes, those dogs are tricky, but signs seem to help. I like the ideas of Strawberries, I’d have to come over and sneak a few.

  • Rachel June 4, 2014

    Boulevard hu? We always just called that the Hell Strip, since as you mentioned, salt, snow, and heat.

    I see a lot of Karl Foerster grass planted that looks good.

    • Scoops June 5, 2014

      Hey Rachel. Yea, I’ve seen it called the hell-strip online, but it’s not a term we really use here. No one knows what I’m talking about when I say it.

      • Rachel June 6, 2014

        I’m in Mpls too, and I agree, no one knows. But I kinda like the term and think it needs more love.

  • angela June 4, 2014

    It looks fantastic! You have me motivated to head outside this weekend & get working!

    Angela @ Number Fifty-Three

    • Scoops June 5, 2014

      Yeah Angela! Do it. If you’re local it will be the perfect weekend for it :)

  • Brenda Thompson June 4, 2014

    Looks great! On a somewhat unrelated note have you found anything that works well for mosquito removal/ repellant? As a fellow Minneapolisian(this is a real word right?), I’m having a hard time keeping them at bay in my garden.

    • Scoops June 5, 2014

      Oh geez Brenda, I have no idea! Those little buggers are the worst, and they are bad right now. I haven’t ever tried prevention or repellants, I just always live with it, but maybe someone reading this has and can offer a little advice.

  • Debbie June 5, 2014

    Try growing basil and using rub basil leaves on your skin, a smell that mosquitoes definitely do not like!

  • Id LOVE to be one of your neighbors and take walks around the block juts to be able to walk past your house. So lovely.

    • Scoops June 6, 2014

      Awh, Thanks Shavonda. That’s so sweet of you to say.

  • Rosie June 8, 2014

    Hey, this looks awesome! Are your neighbours as keen on keeping the street looking nice? If you were my neighbour you’d be inspiring me to get out there and tidy up.

    • Scoops June 12, 2014

      Funny you ask, Rosie! I just spent the day tidying up my bachelor-neighbor-guys front garden. He provided the mulch, so I guess he was kind of inspired ;) It would be awesome if we had one of those blocks where everyone had pretty boulevard gardens. Theres a block a few from our house where there are at least 5 house in a row with beautiful gardens – I detour my walks to stop by there about once a week.

  • Allie June 9, 2014

    I too have to wait a while to tackle most of my mulch beds, as most of the trees in my yard drop something until late May/early June. If we ever move, I’m leaving a warning for the purchasers not to mulch until then! I wish the previous owners had for me :) Keep us updated on this tricky spot. Dianthus are always the hero! My creeping yellow sedum also does great near my large trees and fills in lots of trouble spots for me.

    • Scoops June 12, 2014

      Hey Allie! I might go with the creeping sedum next if the stuff I have around the tree this year doesn’t take. Thanks for the tip. I know right, those trees! I just hired my five year old to pick the helicopters out of the garden for 1 dollar a day. It worked today, let’s see if he can keep it up – if he does it will be the best solution ever!

  • Jodi June 13, 2014

    You are a great inspiration. I am considering a boulevard garden and it is a big help to get tips on plants that work from someone that lives in the same area!

    • Scoops June 17, 2014

      I hope it helps, Jodi! I always check out to see what is growing in other peoples gardens when I’m strolling around the neighborhood, it’s the best way to learn.

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