Fifteen Bags of Gravel, and Counting…

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011 | Home

…in which I talk about landscaping, or at least making the yard look a little better.

I’m not a person avidly dedicated to yard work, or the outward appearance of my home. Truth be told, I”m not that dedicated to the inward appearance of my home, which is evident in the layers of dust on the computer desk I’m sitting at. Now, to be honest, that dust is pretty new, since the last warm spell we had lined up perfectly with a pollen explosion. At any rate, I do my best to keep the lawn in check, and beyond that, I’m pretty content to let the rest of it all grow wild. But recently, be it the impending family visit, or just a more mature outlook on curb appeal, I’ve gone above and beyond my traditional minimal efforts.

Ansel was a great little helper, today.
Ansel wasn’t just playing, he was working!

I grew up in what could only be called “the woods.” From the age of 10 onward, I never had a lawn. Our house was set far back off the road and set into thick forestry. I never really had to do “yard work” as it were. I mean, yes, my mother was very landscape oriented and we did a lot of cleaning, but it was more moving sticks and rocks to clear out the thick underbrush that we had for a yard. The ground was effectively mulch, though, so if a blade of grass snuck up, it was more of an accident than anything else.

Moving into this house, the yard looked pretty good to begin with, but indifference and distraction led it to go to the wilds pretty quickly. I often wonder if the previous owners would drive by the house and sigh, sadly, at it’s dissolution. I think one of the reasons letting the yard go didn’t bother me, is as it reverted to a more natural appearance, it reminded me of “home.”

Recently, and by recently, I mean over the past year or so, I’ve done more and more to better the appearance of our yard. I’ve trimmed branches from the massive trees in our yard to allow light to get to spots that used to be grassy. I’ve taken to mowing more often in order to promote grass growth and discourage weed growth. We’ve been using TruGreen Chemlawn to do the same. The grass is spotty, but there is visible improvement (in the front yard, at least, we’ve yet to dedicate ourselves to Chemlawn in the back). Most recently though, we tackled a spot of the yard that has been, left to it’s own devices for far too long.

Right outside the back door is a huge live oak tree, with a field of lilyturf surrounding it. Over the years, leaves and sticks have gathered in there, and weeds and small trees have taken root. It has become an eyesore that was conveniently overlooked. Spurred on by both our AC repairman and our exterminator, I was driven to clean it up and two weeks ago, I took up rake and strode into the mess to clear it out. It was a more challenging task than anticipated, and I never would have completed it without the help of Heather and Ansel.

A nice, peaceful, reading spot.
A nice, peaceful, reading spot.

Several hours of Gogol Bordello later and we’d cleared out the leaves and redistributed them around the back yard to be mulched in the next mowing. While I was pretty content with simply clearing out the lilyturf, Heather felt that it now looked barren and unattractive. Remember, I grew up with mulch and leaves for a back yard, so a nice clearing of turf and dirt looks pretty good to me. I submitted and when we went to Home Depot for some odds and ends, we checked out the price on pond pebbles. Turns out, it’s not terribly expensive. Really, the only shortfall is that at $3.50 a bag, it takes a lot of bags to get anywhere.

We’ve brought in 15 bags so far, and we could probably use 15 more to really finish up the project, but even now, it’s looking pretty sweet. I’m no landscape architect, but I’m pretty happy with the quaint area we’ve recovered. Of course, the trick now is maintaining it. After three heavy storms, it’s almost time to start raking again. We’re also seeing signs of a flood gully in the lawn where the water is running off. And lastly, all those leaves we spread out to mulch? Well, they’re not mulching real fast so we may have a kind of leafy back yard for a while. I’m sure, with the right motivation, I’ll be out there cleaning up that mess, too.

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