Over the summer (2019), I thought we should redesign the front entrance. We have been working so hard on landscaping the inside area, it was time to focus on the front driveway. For years, we had cactus planted in half wine barrels. We used these planters because the ground is compacted base rock, but over the years the wood rotted.
In September, we replaced our main water line. The guys dug the trench line with a jack-shovel, so I asked if I could use one of them. I trenched a border line to shape the new planter bed, with the intention of putting in a raised river rock wall and outdoor lighting.
A few years ago, a friend and I visited a succulent/cactus nursery in Watsonville. They had an interesting demonstration garden. I took photos as inspirational examples: wheel barrow, bathtub, old trunk, chair, wagon, pots, and metal objects. I knew I wanted a raised rock wall as the border of the new planting bed.
After digging the trench, I was determined to continue with the project. I visited Pottery Planet in Santa Cruz to check out the glazed ceramic pots. In the parking lot were a couple large pots with the perfect color, and it turns out they were half price due to small cracks. They were not wanted as pots for planting trees, but they’d be perfect for cactus with no major roots.
I was able to plant the two largest cactus in these pots and get them placed in the center.
I also had a discussion with Boulder Creek welder, Jordan Booth who was working on welding our iron gate and making a custom-designed pedestrian gate. We came up with the idea of a metal barrel cut in half to make two planters with plasma-cut patterns in them. He also said he had vintage dryer drums which would match and look cool. I was completely on board with his suggestions.
One of the metal barrel planters was cut with trees and mountains, the other has flowers. I burned off the green paint to leave metal that should rust over time.
Now that I had all the planters, it was on to Central Home Supply in Santa Cruz to review their river rock cobbles. I was needing another delivery of gravel for the horse corral mud management grid system, so I wanted to pay one delivery fee. When I went to the rockery, I didn’t see any large river rocks so I picked out some grey stone. The sales guy said they’d be getting in another shipment in case I wanted a second pallet, but I should come look. I’m really glad I went back and found the matching river rock cobbles to our walkways. I bought one pallet that was perfect to redo a pathway plus the planter bed wall.
It took a couple of months to build the rock wall. All the rocks were laid out to find the perfect sizes and flatness to redo the walkway path to the house. It was dug up for the water line and that was a priority. Each layer of the wall was then added slowly on weekends.
On the last weekend in November, we added composted horse manure to the planter bed. The weather also worked on our favor to have warming fires to burn off the green paint on the metal barrels. I was able to plant all the cactus in a few hours. It turned out really well, everything works together. I’ll continue to plant cactus and add metal objects as I find them.