We are pleased that Dale Dailey did not keep his promise to not create any new gardens, and that he shared this with us!

"I have long enjoyed Japanese gardens, but had resisted creating a garden in this style.  I thought that the specialized nature of the gardens required knowledge that I just didn’t have.  I had previously included elements of Japanese gardens in a quiet, meditative area of our large garden. 

A year ago, a large pine tree in the area died and was removed.  In the aftermath, a formerly shady area became quite sunny.  The shade-loving ground cover died back and weeds came rushing in to take advantage of the new environment.  I battled the weeds for much of this summer, but finally decided I needed a permanent solution.  I am 75 years old and had previously promised myself that I would not create any new gardens.  But after much walking around and deliberating, I finally decided to proceed with a Japanese-style gravel garden."

This photograph shows the area before I started the project.  There were already two Japanese features in the area, a stone lantern on the left that marked the entrance into the meditative area and Buddhist statue and water feature on the right.  My first step was to remove the plant materials and earth down to 4 inches below what would become the finished grade.

This photo shows the area after most of the plant materials and earth had been cleared.  A set of paving blocks is lined up, ready to be installed as a buffer between the adjacent path and the new garden. 

In this photo, the paving blocks are now in place.  At his point, I am in the process of relocating a small Chamaecyparis shrub two feet to a better location.  I used black plastic edging around the border and around the plant materials.

I then installed a few large stones that I had on hand to suggest or simulate mountains and mulched around the trees. In this photo, I am in the process of installing a 3-4 inch layer of clean pea stone over landscape cloth. 

This photo was taken after all the gravel was in place. I liked the overall effect, but something was missing. Most Japanese gardens rake the gravel to simulate waves.

To accomplish the raking, I built a small, saw-toothed rake from a scrap piece of wood. The piece is 11 inches wide. The raking turned out to be quite easy and added a significant element to the garden.

This is a photograph of the completed project taken from a location close to the original photograph.

"Compared to other gardening projects I have taken on, this turned out to be relatively easy.  The total project took less than 40 hours and my out-of-pocket cost was around $200.  I also like that the garden should be quite easy to maintain."

Please keep sending in photos (and stories)! Whether you've never shared before or you've been featured multiple times, we want to see your garden! Email a few photos and the story behind your garden to GPOD@taunton.com.

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