A Portulaca Planting

Last week we tore up some brick pavers along our front walk in order to do the edging around our mailbox. We want to try having a planting here since right now it looks so bare, but there’s not much room and it gets really hot due to the concrete sidewalk, brick house, and full morning sun. We’re really not sure if anything will be able to survive here!

Our mailbox area was looking pretty good after we tore up some of the brick and moved it here…

But the sidewalk area, not so much.

Not only did it look pretty bad with the brick torn up, but we already had the plants that we wanted to go in that space, and we needed to get them planted. A few weeks ago we were at a garage sale where they were selling portulaca out of their own garden. Apparently it reseeds so much that they are always trying to get rid of some of it. It’s also very hardy and prefers sandy, well-drained soil and full sun. Everything we wanted for this space! Since it reseeds so much, we decided to buy 6 plants (for $3) and then exercise our patience.

We worked on it late at night in the dark, partly because at that moment we just happened to be feeling motivated, but also because during the day it’s just too hot!! We turned on our outside lights, opened the curtains in our living room and our front door, turned on the lights in our garage, and then dealt with the still inadequate light. Luckily the next morning I didn’t look at it and think “Oh my gosh! What did we do?!”

But since it was dark, I don’t have any pictures of the process. We pried out more of the bricks until we had the bed the size we wanted. Then we dug up all of the paver base, which is basically crushed concrete. I’m not sure how long the pavers have been in place, but the base was very compact. The best way we found to loosen it was by poking a screwdriver into it and underneath it. Now we have a bunch of concrete paver base in our garage to go with our extensive rock collection in the backyard. (I swear our yard is 1/3 rocks, 1/3 dirt, and 1/3 earwigs. Don’t know what those are? Google it.)

We left the base along the very edges and placed bricks on top of it to line the sidewalk. Then Andrew brought more dirt from the backyard and we loosened and mixed all the dirt. We called it a night and I planted our little portulaca plants in the daylight.

We wanted plants with different colored blooms. We have yellow, pink, a coral color, and maybe some others, though once I planted them some of them stopped blooming.

Not this guy though. It was the biggest and unfortunately, I couldn’t separate the roots. But if it doesn’t get any prettier in the future at least it’ll help with the reseeding process and then I could always get rid of it or put it in a pot.

I like how the little ones look better. They’re kind of succulenty looking. But hopefully harder to kill than my stupid succulents (which aren’t doing so great, by the way.)

So there ya have it! I separated and spread out the 6 plants as best I could, and now I’m hoping they’ll reseed quickly!

Here’s the before without any greenery at all.

And here’s the after. Eventually we want to extend the bed a little further down the sidewalk, but since we didn’t have much portulaca yet, we decided to wait. If they start to fill in that bed a little, we can extend it and transplant them later.

The only downside is they’ll never get very tall. I would love to have something with a little more height here, but it’s only 18″ or so wide, so most bushes or small decorative trees wouldn’t have enough space to grow, and certainly not without encroaching on the already narrow sidewalk.

Of course, WAY in the future we want to completely redo the front entrance, since right now it’s actually kind of difficult to get up those 3 narrow stairs and into the house. No matter how much the portulaca spreads, we’ll leave at least a foot or so of the brick by the stairs. A lot of people step on and off the stairs on the side because that’s the easiest way to get the door open and get inside.

At some point if we created a new front porch, we would probably move the sidewalk out further anyway, creating a bigger space for bigger plants. But like I said, WAY in the future and way at the bottom of our priority list. So for now these little fixes will have to satisfy.

Check out the progress this planting made in just a few short months!


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