Landscaping 101

by Rachel

Now that two houses are completed (the Cropseys were able to move in to their place several weeks ago, hooray!) and two more are well on their way (Alyssa's house is getting cabinets and closets, almost done, and the Faders' house has a roof), we are turning our attention more to the surrounding landscape.

Ogden house garden
One of the original houses at Kibuye, the so-called "Ogden house,"  has a grassy yard and many nice flowering plants and trees.  One of the older missionary wives told us that in its heyday, the yard looked like something out of Better Homes and Gardens and it's fallen far since then.  But we still think it's quite nice (and wonder what it USED to look like!).  It gives us an idea of what would some day be possible at the new homes.
poinsettia trees
Ogden house arbor

flowers picked from Kibuye campus
Basically, we built our homes in an undeveloped area, slight hill, mostly scrubby trees.  The McLaughlin house is at the "top" of the property, and there is a gradual slope down to the Cropsey's house, at the "bottom" of the property.  Not being a civil engineer (I think this is who would be the expert) I really have no idea about water systems and retaining walls, but an awful lot of cement and concrete and stone was used to put up walls and gutters and septic tanks and the like.  It seemed like overkill, but then we had three days of torrential downpours at the beginning of October.  It was quite a kickoff to the rainy season, and potentially damaging, as the rains caused stripping of topsoils, floods, and leaks.  It's the kind of rain that can damage crops and cause erosion.  And in our own homes, we were able to see the power of the rain on a muddy hillside.  Over the course of an hour, the Cropsey yard turned into one giant swimming pool, almost flooding their downstairs basement.  There was standing water and mud everywhere.
The original lot before home construction

So the guys got back to work and started relandscaping our yards.  First, they dug holes and installed drainage systems under our wall.  Then they dug trenches across the yards, filling them with stones to serve as drainage fields.  

Landscapers hard at work

Grass clumps after planting
They planted grass…and when I say planted grass, I mean they literally took little clumps of grass and stuck the clumps in hundred of little holes all across the yard (no sod or grass seed here, I guess).  They fixed gutters and roofs.  And after all that, the rains stopped. :)  But probably not for long, as the rains usually continue more or less through April.
McLaughlin side yard, "finished product"
We are also excited about the possibility of having flowers and fruit trees in our yards.  The more greenery we can have, the less damaging the rains will be.  Plus, after cutting down so many trees to build our homes we're feeling a bit like the Onceler from the Lorax, or maybe Sauruman from Lord of the Rings.  We love trees, and hope to replant everything that was lost.  Carlan has started a little nursery of trees/plants, and the hospital has also hired an "agriculturist" to help with the hospital property and our homes as well.  Much has already been planted and we look forward to seeing how things grow and develop in the next 10 years.

Carlan's tree nursery
Carlan supervises the younger generation