Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Grass, Grass and More Grass

“Think back to the first time you explained to a nongardener that the lawn is just the place you stand when looking at your plants”
~ Steve Aitken, editor of Taunton’s Fine Gardening magazine

This place has a ton of lawn space. There is a huge strip of grass along the street, and being a corner lot, it wraps around the corner and goes partway up the perpendicular street. Then there is an upper strip along the front of the house. Then there is more on the east side of the house that wraps around the back and extends partway along the south side.

I like some grass in the landscape but for us, that is way too much to maintain and mow. Currently my better half and I share the mowing and grass maintenance jobs and neither of us want it to be more than a 30 minute endeavor. I, personally would rather spend my time gardening, or hiking, kayaking, going on long walks, not tending grass. However we both want to do the mowing as part of our outdoor exercise which is why we don’t hire it out. Mowing grass is a good cardio workout in the fresh air in the sun. But 30 min or less mowing is plenty of that particular activity. And it is easier to keep a properly mulched garden watered and weed free than acres of grass.

So, one of my first priorities, after getting control of the weeds in the garden spaces and grass, was to lessen the overall amount of grass. As you have read in previous posts on my blog I have had good results in smothering grass with cardboard topped with mulch or dirt. I will be doing that again in the back and side yard as you will see later, but this street side grass is too monstrous an area to lay cardboard and paying for yards of compost would be much too costly.

So, I decided to use wood chip. Not beauty bark. Wood chip. You can read my reasons why here, but for now suffice to say ‘free’ is my kind of price. I did pay an arborist his asking price for these first 12 yards because I wanted it now, he had it now, and I wanted him to drive and dump it along the street up on the grass in a stripe as long as he could get it. Not all arborists give it away free but many do.

I didn’t want to come home to find a tall pile dumped all in one heap and in the wrong place so I was getting picky and there are times you have to pay to get things your way. Subsequent chip loads I am getting free from other local tree trimming service companies to finish the job, since 12 yards wasn’t enough and I need to thicken the layer. I tried to rake it out to 6-8 inches thick but being such a large chunky medium, grass in some areas is finding the light and pushing its way up. That happens when cardboard isn’t used underneath your mulch. Mulch or dirt over cardboard doesn’t have to be so thick as the card board does the job of cutting off all the light. Chip takes a bit more supervision to get the job done. But in the end, it will work and, in the fall, or late winter it will be ready for my planting ideas.

It took me 2 days, 6 hours each to rake all this out and wheelbarrow it around  from the main drop. And yes, I mean me, moi, by myself. I don’t often ask my better half for help doing this kind of stuff even though he is willing. The garden is my love and joy, the easy parts and the hard parts. If I can’t do the work I need to come up with a different hobby. I will give credit to where credit is due when I do ask for help, but for the most part all the work you see in my posts I have done myself unless otherwise specified.

I am toying with planting options right now. I want to plant low growing shrubs so as not to cover the beautiful rockery. Viburnum Davidii, St John’s Wort (shrubs not ground cover), Burning Bush (Euonymus compacta), Spirea, Daphne ‘Eternal Fragrance’ among others are making the list. In a few years’ time when they begin to fill in I will no doubt give you a before and after post of that area again.

And the very next day, literally barely 12 hours later, the gas company decided to do work in the area and found my lovely property the perfect place to lay their pipes as a staging area! Arrgh!!! They walked all over it, churning up the chip layer and generally messing up much of my hard work. My fear was if they churned it up it would be thinner is some areas and the grass would get through.

I did, nicely, explain how I had just finished raking all that out and my reasons for doing it and asked them please be careful. Happily, they removed their stuff and attempted to smooth it out but some damage had been done. Sigh. The churned-up areas did allow light to reach the grass under and it had started to poke up through. My next load was a finer consistency, so it compacted better to suppress the light. I piled more where I needed it. Now I can leave it all to rest and get onto other parts of the garden.

In Bloom in My Garden Today: Hebe, Shasta daisy, Cuphea “Vermillionaire”, Calendula, Rose, Hydrangea, Veronica, Dianthus, Nepeta, Gillenia, Sedum, Bletilla, Potentilla, Oriental Lily, Digitalis, Salvia,

Author’s photos

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