We bought this house in Japan a little over eight years ago.
We love the house, but this little yard is all there is...Yes, there is no backyard. Yards are generally small in Japan, so this is the norm. Land is expensive in Japan ya'll!
Step 1: The Sod Experiment!
The first thing I tried was sod. I prepared the ground and installed the sod, but had no luck with it lasting more than a year. One big thing you'll notice driving around neighborhoods in Japan is there is no grass.
Folks use artificial turf now! I was even warned at the garden center where I bought the sod that it probably wouldn't work. I smiled and thought 'I'll show you buddy!'
That tree in my front yard is a white Japanese Stewartia. I'm growing a red one in a container now too.
Step 2: Picket Fence and Kentucky Bluegrass!
I gave up on the sod and built a picket fence! I don't build fences when I fail at things...I'd have like a trillion fences. No, I've always wanted a picket fence.
After the fence I did a little research on grass and found Kentucky Bluegrass.
Kentucky Bluegrass is perfect for busy lawns, it's high cold tolerant and disease resistant.
It worked too! It came in super thick and looked incredible behind this fence.
The rest of the country must not know about this grass.
Step 3: Winter Creepers and Flowerpots
I planted winter creepers in front of the picket fence and starting planting flowers in flowerpots.
The winter creepers are easy to maintain and grow very well with fall pruning. Flowerpots are awesome, because they're movable. You can move them around your yard to change up how it looks. I started trying to grow every type of plant I could find.
-Bird of Paradise
-Red Japanese Stewartia
-Every kind of herb
Step 4: Brick Sidewalk, Ornamental Grass and Tulips
I loved the Kentucky Bluegrass lawn, but wanted to change things up. I dug up the yard and put down a cool little brick sidewalk. The sidewalk isn't permanent just incase I feel like changing things up again soon. I planted ornamental grass along the sidewalk and planted tulip bulbs in the fall. The grass that looks like it's growing in the sidewalk is artificial. It's being held down by very long pins. I'm fooling the entire town!
Step 5: The Potted Plant Garden!
My large potted plant garden! I'm not going to lie, 'it gets time consuming', especially in the fall and spring!
Most of the trees need pruned in the fall and there's a lot of stick and branch trash that needs to be dealt with. I use the bonsai method on all of my potted trees too, meaning every spring, I trim the roots back on every tree and re-pot them in the same pot. The goal is top growth and not root growth. This doesn't affect their growth or size, but I've found they need watered more.
The biggest pest for potted plants in Japan is the Japanese beetle grub. These guys are relentless and hard to guard against. I use specially designed powders and sprays, but I find grubs in a few pots every year. The best way to get rid of them is picking them off the roots. The Japanese stag beetle grub is as big as my hand! The Japanese stag beetle grub is as big as my.....HAND! Nightmares! Google it, I dare you!
I use liquid fertilizer for all of my potted flowers and follow the instructions. They usually need fertilized twice a week in the spring and summer. I use a monthly tablet fertilizer for everything else.
I've had no luck with coffee. The plants grow, but the climate isn't right for fruit. In my experience the blueberries, mulberries and olives are the easiest to take care of and get the most fruit. The orange and plum tree need the most care, because they attract a lot of bugs and birds.
I'm also growing:
-Pink Azalea...and more. I wish I could name them all! I actually forgot the names of a few..
The Azaleas are very easy to grow and the Vanhoutte Spirea is perfect when it blooms in spring, but looks like a nightmare when all of the white flowers turn brown. I need to hide it.
Step 6: Celosia (cockscomb)
These flowers are amazing and last a long time. Something like 10 weeks. I grow them from seeds and start in the early spring and usually about 90%+ of the seeds germinate. The seeds are incredibly small, but easy to grow. In Japan, one Celosia flower at the garden center is about $3, but 25 seeds is about $2.
Step 7: Succulents Under the Tree!
I have potted succulents under the tree that I leave out there all year long. Succulents don't like the cold, but in my experience with these, they come back bigger and stronger when left alone.
Step 8: Potted Plants Everywhere!
I can't get enough flowerpots!
I'm also an ivy fan! Ivy is gorgeous, but can get invasive! I have three kinds growing in a brick planter under a bay window. I need to cut it away from the house a couple times a year or it will climb straight up.
Step 9: The Yard 2018!
This is the front of my house 2018!