Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I have so much to do and so little ambition.

The houses in my neighborhood were built with two traditional areas for flower beds. One is along the side of the garage, and the other occupies a large amount of square footage in front of the house. Our property is on a hill, so there's even a stone retaining wall that wraps around the flower bed to the side of the house.

My flower beds are weed beds. When it comes to the great outdoors, I have no gardening knowledge or skill. It shows, too. My flower beds don't contain flowers. They contain weeds. Lots and lots of weeds in varying sizes, colors, and unpleasantness.

Two weeks ago, I ordered 3.5 cubic yards of mulch. I tackled the "easy" weed bed which had been professionally cleared five or six years ago and covered with weed barrier and mulch. In our typical fashion, we never bought more mulch and the weeds took hold and took over. I cleared it out, laid more barrier, and shucked several loads of mulch to the bed with the wheelbarrow.

The weed-bed by the garage all but cries out for attention. A number of years back -- prior to the professionals doing the other -- we put down a layer of weed barrier and I-can't-remember-how-many pounds of stone. It wasn't quite enough to do the job, but one thing led to another and we never looked back. The weeds -- shockingly enough -- returned.

Our grand idea is to take out the stone and use it around the air conditioner instead. It's a smaller area and can be generously covered with the stone we have, and covered deeply enough to keep the stupid weeds at bay.

So I started trying to remove the stone. What a joke. They're a bit too small to scrape out with a rake, and the rake snags on the weed barrier. We don't have a hoe. My only other tool is a shovel with a short handle. I can't dig down or the shovel snags on the weed barrier which is still in surprsingly good condition. It's years of dirt that blew into the stones that hosted all the weeds. Oh, and they grew up between where the sheets of barrier overlapped but I ran out of the spikes intended to hold it down.

Aaaaanyway, I can't stand up straight to shovel, so I have to hunch over and scrape the stones off with the shovel nearly parallell to the ground. The blade of the shovel is narrow and doesn't hold much. The work takes forever. My back and shoulders and hamstrings hurt from hunching over. Waaaah.

When I mulched the easy weed bed, I got the brilliant idea to use some of the stones to edge an area of mulch that has no wall. The problem is that the stones are full of dirt and weeds, and I don't want to go polluting my freshly-mulched bed with weeds from the garage.

I know! I'll just rinse the dirt off the stones!

Easier said than done, but through lots of trial and error and lots more water, I managed to get the worst of the garbage out of the stones. I quit for the day and go inside.

I haven't been back out to work on it since, and it's been nearly two weeks. Weeds are growing out of the rocks piled on the pathway that leads to the backyard, and water is puddling in the tarp beneath the mulch. I need to get it out of there before it starts breeding mosquitoes.

But, ugh, I have no motivation.


--V said...

Perennials! May night salvia is really nice, takes almost no effort. All you need to do is water dead-head it once in a while to keep it blooming (chop off the whole stalk once all the flowers dry up and fall off), and water it once in a while if you're not getting much rain. At the end of the season when it all dies off, trim everything back the crown and it'll come back next year

Day lilies and tiger lilies are very low-maintenance, too. I don't have any of those, but Mom does. Only thing you'll need to do after a while is separate them when they get too crowded. But I think that takes years.

Or you could sow wildflowers. Those are also pretty low-maintenance, and generally self-seed so they come back year after year. And they might choke out the weeds.

Rusty's Mom said...

I'm with --V. I only ever do perrenials. And you wanna know a secret...don't tell anyone...I use round up to kill the freaking weeds. You can pull the bastards until your hands are stained brown and green and they still come back. But you shot em with round up and bye bye babies...they don't come back. Sure more seeds are carried by birds and the wind but it so easy to keep up with once the initial batch are killed off. And it works quick too. Spray by Wednesday and by that weekend it's nothing but dead stuff. Pulls out really easy. I hate weeds can you tell. E