Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring Cleaning

The robins are back a whole month early, and all the bulbs are up but not blooming. If you weren't watching the calendar, you would swear this was April and not March. We have had a lot of warm dry weather so we are getting a head start on yard work.

I cleaned the old lettuce and remainder of last fall's carrots out and weeded my beds so they are ready for planting.

I trimmed the dead foliage and runners from the strawberry bed and pulled unwanted plant starts between the rows.

I raked all the mulch about to freshen it up and to cover the tender new shoots to protect them from frost.

We lost some tops out of dying ash in the shrubby strip beside the garden so we cleaned the tops out and cut the remaining trunks.

In a lawn surrounded by aging and dying ash trees, that was only the beginning of our game of pick-up-sticks. We took many loads of branches, limbs and brush back to the burn pile.

Speaking of tree projects. There was a strip of trees between the neighbor's drive and our side yard which have always stood in a swampy area. They have been were dying at an alarming rate and losing large pieces. There are few things more startling than sitting in your lawn on a sunny summer Sunday and hearing a huge oak branch thicker than your leg come crashing down without provocation... narrowly missing the garage eaves.

The neighbors had the trees removed, and took the opportunity to run the city water line in from the curb box, so this neat and tidy garden bed now looks like a muddy waste land.

This was my landscape bed, but everything to the left of the whisky barrel was on their land. So the plow and the rocks need to find a new home. The Hosta plant next to the fence is frozen solid in the ground so that will have to wait.

It is hard to describe the havoc that has taken place in that little strip of land over the last couple of months.

You can see how wet it is, so everything has taken place in the worst kind of mud.

After the trees were cut, Tim and neighbor Mike managed to restore some order, and the tree service returned to chip most of the tops.

Then the water line went in. It would have been impossible to trench through all those roots, so the stumps were pulled and hauled away, and the line dug to a meter pit closer to the house.

Many many loads of gravel were brought in and much of the nasty clay was removed to improve the drainage and restore some decent ground.

The property line runs right down this trench, and you can see that Tim has done his best to restore his lawn to pre-war-zone tidiness. We have several stacks of large red oak logs that will be milled into useful lumber, and neighbor Mike has several years worth of firewood to cut up.

When the ground firms up, a proper french drain will be dug down this line and the neighbors will be able to work on putting in a lawn and restoring the edge of their driveway. Then some shade trees will be planted, and before you know it peace and beauty will return. But as you can imagine... everyone is tired of sticks in the lawn.


  1. I was so glad to see a post, and to here you are able to enjoy some of the weather to get out into your beds (we'll ignore the lawn warzone =)

    Have you had many volunteers starts? I saw you pulled the "unwanted plant starts." Are you keeping any, or do you always pull all of them?

  2. That depends on what they are. In the case of the strawberries, the entire row to the left is comprised of runners of the original bed in another location. If you turn your back on strawberries they will take over the world, and they really need more ventilation than they allow themselves. Plus you need a place to put your feet! I was going to clean the bed more vigourously last fall, but they plants were in pretty firmly. The damp spring soil is perfect for erradicating unwanted growth.

    I do allow certain volunteers to remain. For instance Borage, Pansies and Catnip. If they are in an unconvenient spot, they are easily pulled and poked into a different spot.

    As far as tomato and squash, which are always plentiful, I usually weed them out because I don't know if they are from a hybrid or nonhybrid variety. If they are from a hybrid there is just no telling what it could be. That can be an interesting experiment if you don't have anything else planned for that spot.