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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Greenthumb: Whipping The Yard Into Shape

We've seen our fair share of rainy days this year.  For months, I've sat staring out the windows, longingly - dreaming of all the ways our yard could be better this spring/summer.  Either I've been gone for a track meet or the weather has been too awful to actually get any work done outside - until this weekend, that is.  With temperatures in the 80s (that's like 120 degrees for us Washington coast peeps) and a free weekend, I was raring to throw off my layers and get the yard ready for bikini season.

With both of our schedules being so busy lately we've been slacking on the ol' lawn mowing.  The yard is pretty much dormant during the rainy season with little to no growth but with the first hint of sun the grass grows 2 feet.  So if we're not on top of it then we're dealing with a damn jungle.  Unfortunately, our lawn mower seized up partway through the process - with only one tiny strip left to mow.  At least I was able to get all of the main sections mowed so it looks much better.

Speaking of grass...remember that meandering pathway that we put in?  The one we took special care to layer with landscaping fabric to keep out those pesky weeds?  Yeah, well, this is how it looks now.  The weed barrier that I used was pretty much an utter failure - the grass grew right up through it.
I've spent time here and there pulling the little sprouts that have sprung up which are easy enough but a few months of that and those little sprouts grew into much bigger clumps of grass which are a bit more difficult.  Pulling all the grass by hand was something that I wanted to avoid and while I'm not really a fan of busting out the harsh chemicals and zapping that wayward grass dead in its tracks, I'm also not too keen on letting all that hard work go to waste.  Luckily I have an awesome neighbor with tips of her own who shared that vinegar is a safe replacement for unhealthy weed killer like Round-Up.

A week or so ago I sprayed the wayward grass pretty heavily with vinegar to try and kill it.  It definitely worked on the small sprouts - which browned within a day or so, but that vinegar was no match for the big clumps.  So, I think I may have to suck it up and pull all the grass, rake up the pea gravel, remove the old landscaping fabric and replace it with something better - like this, maybe?  Any of you landscape pros have any tips?  We also need to get a few more loads of pea gravel to hide that weed barrier once and for all.

After the lawn was out of the way, I put off working on the pathway and instead, Luke and I visited our local nursery and picked up a few plants.  I was on the hunt for a camellia, but came up empty handed.  $50 later here's what I did find:

We left with another $30 at our second stop, our local big box hardware store.  We picked up:

At our third (and final) stop we picked up a few more plants from our local grocery/department store:

  • Strawberries
  • Clematis
  • Fern
  • (4) Hosta
  • Coralbells
  • Another shade loving plant that I can't recall.

We transformed two spaces - 1) a shady area under three trees and 2) a bright, sunny spot against our fence  - and a third, a raised garden bed, is still in the process of being finished.  I'll be sharing details of each later in the week.  We still have so much to do back here and it feels a little "two steps forward one step back" but I think we're on the right track.

So how did you guys take advantage of the warm weather?  Did you get down to work in the yard, like us or did you take the opportunity to indulge in some leisure activities?


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