On the side of the house was grass, weeds, mud, moss and a cinderblock retaining wall dividing my side yard from my neighbor's. It was rainy when the HVAC person came out to check the unit, and I noticed he had to slog through the mud to get to it. Well, this sounds like a job for Supergardener! What, too much? 'Cause I was kind of hoping for a cape and some snazzy new boots.
A path was in order. This is the ONLY place in the yard I left black plastic down, because I am not intending to plant anything in it. I put down flat fieldstone and some round marble stepping stones I found on the other side of the house and I'd quartered with a sledgehammer, and about ten bucks worth of river gravel. I tested it out in the rain - you can get all the way to the HVAC without encountering a bit of dirt.
And then the usual tilling, cardboard, soil, mulch business on the rest of it. This will be my cutting garden for white and yellow flowers. Rudbeckia, sunflowers, white anemone, yellow daffodils, daisies. Those are the colors that go best in my dining room but I'm not a huge fan of yellow in a Southern landscape, especially in the hot summer. My compromise is to tuck them away on the side.
My neighbor has a trellis shielding his HVAC (sort of, the vine on it appears to be dead), so I borrowed that idea. I put up an iron trellis and planted an evergreen coral honeysuckle on one side and a blue clematis on the other, so the two can twine together. When it is well-established, it should screen the HVAC from the street year-round.
I also made a little extension of that upper bed with pinky muhly grass for a little visual divide between the yards. I know none of these beds look impressive yet, but give them a couple of years.