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Build a "beach" in your own yard!

Why fight traffic going to the beach? Build a beach in your backyard (or front yard)!

Of course I'm not talkng about an ocean and ships and a view to the horizon--but I am talking about a big bed of sand with rocks, driftwood, ornamental grasses if you like and even a few water plants sunk into the ground nearby.

It'll be a sensual place to wiggle your toes, to sit in, to walk through after a rainfall. And it will look great! It will add a pleasing new texture to your landscape.

And textures these days are what gardeners are seeking. At one time, landscaping was shrubbery and masses of flowers. Today, it's seersucker hosta leaves, lance-shaped Siberian iris and water irises (that do just fine in regular soil, too), ornamental grasses of every size, interesting seed pods, mosses, rocks....You get the the idea.

And a beach adds a restful,. rustic flavor that you'll love in your lawn. It was even better than I thought after I put one in for an adventurous gardener.

Here's the plan: Decide where it will fit in. Move your hose around to form the area you want to be your beach. Make it an irregular "splotch" pattern or kidney shape. Make it as big or small as you wish--but bigger is always better. About 10 feet by 15 feet or more.

Then use a turf edger or shovel to slice into the grass where the hose is laid out and remove a little grass all along the hose. That will give you your design.

Then dig out (or give neighbourhood kids some pocket change to dig out) about 10 inches of soil. Of course, you could put this in a pile and have it hauled away. But why not create a berm or hill nearby, right next to your beach? You can plant a couple willow shrubs and grass on this berm. Again, another nice landscape touch. And willow fits in perfectly with a beach scene.

Then deposit large rocks here and there in the dug-out area. Again--the bigger the better. Then fill in the area with the finest sand you can have delivered. The finer it is, the nicer it will feel wiggling your toes in.

Then landscape as your creative juices tell you. Suggestion: dig out a couple holes 18 inches deep along your beach, line it with plastic (garbage bags, old shower curtain, etc.) and add soil back in. Plant water plants such as cat-tails into these holes. They will add to a "beachy" feel. The plastic will hold in the water, creating the boggy conditions water plants need.

And you can plant ornamental grasses right into the sand, although you may want to add a little soil to the sand first.

You can add logs, driftwood, sea shells, specimen rocks you found on a road trip, etc., too. Be sure to leave plenty of room on your beach to lie down and move around in. You'll ruin your open-beach effect if you put in too many plants.

So--sounds like a nice day at the beach, doesn't it? And if you forgot the sunscreen at home, it's only a short walk away!

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