January 28, 2013

Recycling the roof

purple accent plant
Love that purple accent color
I like a nice, neat edge on the lawn, don't you? A barrier of some sort is the best way to maintain that. In Texas, I used the dark green steel edging that you can make nice curves with but when we first started landscaping here in La Ceiba, the only edging material available was plastic. Later Ace Hardware came to town and they had it, but the price was outrageous for the quantity that we needed plus by then I'd learned enough to be sure it would have rusted away in no time in this climate.

river rock bed edging
In a few areas where the rain tends to wash away the soil, we used river rocks (left over from construction) to edge the beds and hold the soil in. I really like the natural look but it's not the easiest thing to mow or edge around and I thought doing all the beds with rocks might be a little overpowering. Most of the lawn was just manually edged with a weedeater each week. Over the years without any sort of barrier edging, the shape of the lawn area had shifted and needed to be redefined. Grass died out in some areas and overtook the flower beds in others.

moses in a cradle and teja lawn edging
I did things backwards. A few weeks before, we had a good worker so I took advantage of that to re-outlined all the front beds. I marked the curvy, flowing lines that I wanted with a trail of flour. We pulled up grass sprigs where grass shouldn't be and planted them where the grass should be. He dug up old plantings of Moses in a Cradle and replanted them all around the edges of the lawn. (See Rhoeo spathacea in this 2006 article to read how four tiny pots of this became miles of plants.) The undersides of the leaves are a deep, dark purple which I love.

purple accent plant
Since everything is so green all year round, I really like the look of dark purple as an accent in the garden. Several months ago we took cuttings from another dark purple plant (name, anyone?) and planted some here and there. This plant also made a nice contrast to the green grass and green plants. Moses in a Cradle spreads like crazy here so we always have excess that we can dig up from somewhere to replant in a new location. It does much better with this tough love rejuvenation every few years anyway.

Though it looked very nice, I soon realized that this wasn't a smart move. Edging the lawn with a weedeater would be very difficult if not impossible without chopping off the leaves of the Moses in the process. Tattered plants outlining the lawn was not the look I was going for. We talked again about using river rocks or making a permanent concrete edging of some sort. I don't think I could ever commit to a permanent edging. (Plants grow. Plants die. I change my mind.) Then I remembered the teja (clay roof tile) edging I had seen in San Pedro.

While visiting some friends in San Pedro, we saw that they had used some barrel style teja for edging some beds around palm trees. I liked the look, but wasn't sure how that would work using 'wing' style teja, which is mostly what we have left. Way back when, our architect miscalculated the square footage of our roof and we purchased way too much teja. Way, way too much. We've been looking at this expensive pile of excess teja for years. We've used some, need to keep some for repairs of course, and have even talked about roofing a chicken coop with it, but I think we still have more than we'll use in our lifetime.

teja lawn edging
El Jefe and I did a little test in a small area and decided we liked it and that it wouldn't be too much of a pain to weedeat around it. Originally I was thinking that we could cut three pieces from each 18" tile, but we realized that it would be better to cut them in half and install them with about 4-5" in the ground and and the same amount above the soil line. Based on the test area length, we calculated how much length we would get from each tile cut in half and then measured the distance around all the beds in front to see if we would have enough. Enough? We had enough for two or three gardens!

clay tile lawn edging
So, armed with an electric saw to cut the tejas in half and a rubber mallet to install them, worker Evar wound his way around and around the garden, installing the edging in front of the Moses in a Cradle he had planted a week or so before.  I thought it would be more than a week-long project, but the front yard was finished in no time. I'm really happy with how it looks, as well as happy to be rid of some of the pile of leftover materials. This photo is from when it was almost completed.

clay tile garden bed edging
Didn't he do a neat job? By the way, the bottom half of the tiles are shaped different than the top so it took some careful planning to make sure that we used them in the correct areas so that they came out even so we wouldn't have a ton of one side or the other left over. They did a great job with that. If you click these photos, you may notice that the curved top on the right side of the 'barrel' has a deeper cut out in this area than it does in the one below.

One concern was that the teja would block the flow of rain water. We thought we might have to drill some holes at the bottom, but it hasn't been an issue. One day we had nine inches of rain and water didn't stop up behind the tejas at all.

clay tile garden bed edging
We hadn't really decided about doing the back yard – or so I thought anyway – when I discovered that Evar was halfway done with the back yard, too. Unfortunately, he and El Jefe didn't know that I planned to change the outline of some of the beds so a lot of it was in the wrong place. :-(  After watching my sad face a little bit, El Jefe said that they could always be moved. "Right, Evar?" Evar said, "Sure!" El Jefe said, "In fact, Evar would be happy to move them, pull them up, and move them again as many times as you want." Evar laughed and agreed since he needs the work and is always worried that we'll run out of work for him. We all had a laugh about that and I didn't feel so guilty about making him redo parts of his work.

Under this lemon tree is an example of one area where the bed needed to be expanded because the plants had outgrown the area provided.

clay roof tile lawn edging before
Widening the bed under sprawling lemon tree.
Do you see Oso peeking out from behind the tree trunk?
I guess you could say that we were recycling the grass, too. All of that grass behind the teja was dug up and planted sprig by sprig in some areas were heavy shade or dog traffic had worn out the lawn.

after grass removed from under lemon tree
After grass removed under lemon tree.
Much easier for mowing, too.

What do you think about my teja edging?

Newer posts Older posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...