I have become an object of interest in the neighborhood.
To be fair, the renovation project took so long that the neighborhood was already invested in what we are up to. And others are doing things: the apartment building next door recently tore out a wrecked sidewalk and replaced it with a new one that will actually keep the tenants' feet out of the mud (on the rare occasions that it rains), and the building across the street just went from a drab white paint job to a cheerful asparagus green.
Meanwhile, for several weeks I have been spending an hour or so at a stretch in the front yard, addressing the Scorched Earth.
There was nothing but sod, front and back, during the previous tenancies - unless you count the mismatched and inappropriate foundation plantings in front (I don't; they are gone now anyway). A sprinkler system had been installed, but we turned it off nine months ago. Since then the yard has gotten water only from the sky or from my inconsistently-applied garden hose.
In the back yard, because so much of it is "built" (what with the huge deck and walkout) there is not much of this sad parched grass. Where it is, though, the ground is still rock-hard and nearly impossible to dig. I started a mulching program back there, because before this year is out I want to plant bamboo along the privacy wall.
I had to wait a little while to address the front yard, because I only get so many days off and there are So Many Projects. Now, however, the south half of the yard is under a layer of cardboard and bark. Just keeping the earth out of the sun will help soften it up (because earth-cultivating bugs and worms like to be under cover), and I am watering. Inconsistently.
On the other side, I started out with a trio of black-and-blue salvias, which sat in containers in their nursery pots till yesterday. Now they are (still in their nursery pots) arrayed on the mulch. I need to tweak their positioning a bit before I dig them in. The rest of the north side can't be planted till we have a leaking drain dug out and repaired.
The salvias came home because the front of the house looked a bit forlorn right after move-in. Most of our activity had been concentrated in the back. Just having some plants under the windows made a huge difference. They even attracted some interest from local hummingbirds, while they were blooming. Right now they are irritated, and getting impatient to be in the ground.
A week or so later, I added a little verbena with a pretty bright-lavender flower. It has been quite happy in its nursery pot next to the mailbox, but soon I will transfer it to a permanent container.
I reinforced the salvias - when they stopped blooming - with a pair of "emu bush" plants, a non-native, but a pink-blooming drought-tolerant shrub and therefore something I can work with. They will also be dug into the south side of the yard shortly.
Those five plants got relocated this weekend because we put up two arbors in front of our picture windows. On those arbors I will shortly deploy some native California grape vines, beloved by birds & bees.
And this is why I did not even move the new plants out of nursery plants and into containers. I wasn't sure exactly what I would end up wanting to do in the front, and having as little gardening time as I do, did not want to be digging any more than I absolutely have to.
Anyway, I'm sure it has been worth some comment amongst the neighbors, seeing things change up front. At least the mailbox isn't moving.