A Border on a Budget
It doesn't cost a fortune to turn an eyesore into a garden spot.
When my wife, Margaret, and I purchased our home, the garden at the end of our long driveway had all the charm of a train derailment. So this high-profile area was the first one we decided to redo.
We began by shifting a few plants around. The stiff-soldier row of small ornamental 'Bradford' pear trees came out. We dug up the two butterfly bushes (Buddleia sp.) and set them aside so we could amend the soil. The 10-foot-tall corkscrew willow tree (Salix matsudana 'Tortuosa') in the center of the bed was the only thing that remained untouched.
After pulling weeds, we tilled the hard-packed clay soil and added two pickup loads of clean leaf mold, available from our local landfill at a bargain price. A load of aged "zoo-doo" was free from the zoo. (Many zoos have more manure than they know what to do with, so they offer it to the public at little or no cost. Note: Be sure the manure comes from the herbivores; the manure of meat eaters contains harmful bacteria.) All of the materials were then tilled into the existing topsoil and raked smooth.
The two butterfly bushes were replanted close to the front, where their lacy foliage and perfumed flowers could be better appreciated. We splurged a little on 10 new 'Carefree Sunshine' shrub roses and wove a curved row of these low-maintenance beauties around the butterfly bushes.