Oh my aching back!

Don’t you just love it when I post pictures of my lovely garden and flowers? Yeah, me too. I like showing off the pretty things I have in my yard. I’ve made a point NOT to show any of the ugliness. And believe me, that sometimes takes some creative photo angles. Especially when photographing anything in my front yard. *sigh*

I swear, this is the year we’re going to get our front yard looking more, you know, not like a weed pit. Even if it kills me.

Here’s what it looked like over the winter. It’s still pretty much the same, except with more weeds:

The view from the front door.

You see, when we bought this house, we discovered a yard filled with hard, hard clay, unevenly covered with old landscaping fabric, in turn covered with several inches of loose gravel, and which had been left alone for a couple of years. By left alone, I mean completely abandoned, which made weeds grow up through the plastic, die, rot, turn into dirt, which caused more weeds to grow, die, rot, etc. I hear from the neighbors (and we saw on Google images) the people in the house two owners ago had a lovely yard. But they left and the people who came after didn’t even bother to pay the mortgage, much less take care of anything. By the time we got this house, the front yard was a hot mess of weeds, rocks, exposed plastic and dead plants. Even a dead tree. Not to mention the failing fence.

Being as how we were “house poor” and busy tackling the more-pressing inside issue, we couldn’t really afford the time or money to do much with the yard that first year. I spent plenty of hours outside pulling weeds, and tucking plastic under rocks and trying to make it look decent, but not enough to actually do anything other than appease the neighbors. That took all summer, really. Well, that and pulling the even more weeds in our backyard. It was like a jungle.

Last summer, I had some vague plans to start working on it, and I even planted some things here and there (a couple of which are still living, to my delight). Of course, I still had to spend days pulling weeds, and that sucked up a lot of my time. It was also the year I tackled the garden area too. And then I got sick, and everything yard-related fell off the list.

This year, finally, I have a real plan. And so far, the time and energy to tackle it. We still don’t have a lot of money, and so can’t really spring for professional help, or even a day laborer to do the heavy lifting. So, it’s up to me, my imagination, and my back.

It’s a slow process. I’ve made a mental grid of the yard and mapped out what I want to do in each area, and which areas need to get done in what order. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve tentatively started doing the work. One little area at a time. Today’s task was dual duty. First, my goal was to start clearing rocks in the far corner of the front yard so I can till some compost in and plant the tomatoes that are waiting on my patio table. Second was to clean up one of the tragically weedy planter strips near the driveway and sidewalk.

Today, I took on the PITA space between our driveway and the street. It’s a tough spot because the weeds were so thick and the ground is rock solid clay and rock. The watering system feeding this area hasn’t worked since we moved in. Fixing it is very low on the priority list. So, I’ve come up with some drought-tolerant plant ideas, and so far they have been working in the area near here. Time to expand that plan to this space.

Looks small, but it was a big project.

It took more than an hour to break up the clay and rocks. I felt like singing the song “Breaking rocks in the … hot sun… I fought the law, but the… law won!” But I was determined to win. I used my garden fork and my hand tiller most. I dumped about 8 buckets full of weeds and dirt. I pulled up the busted plastic. I dug out the roots. I loosened the dirt and clay, and leveled it out.

Cleared out the junk.

So, what to put there? Oh, hey, I have a lavender plant that could go there. It’s in the area where I eventually want to put a tree, so why not move it now?

Lovely lavender.

And then I carried about 10 half-bucketfuls of gravel over and spread it around. I figure the gravel won’t completely stop the weeds, but since it’s now about 4 inches deep, it’ll slow them down a bit. At least through the summer since it won’t get much water. And now, when I look down from my bedroom window, I can see some small thing that makes me happy. I’ll just concentrate on that, and not look at the rest of my yard. At least for now.

Tomorrow’s hard work? The rest of the rocks out of that area in the front yard and maybe start tilling.

Tonight, though, it’s time for a well-earned cocktail and a bath.


One thought on “Oh my aching back!

  1. Pingback: Progress « a full plate

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