Just the back yard!? Nah, I want the front and side yards landscaped in natives too.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Winter Reprieve

After the frigid temperatures earlier this week, today was 55 degrees with rain...but I didn't let the rain stop me. :)  I've been known to get a lot done in the yard during the winter months (at least my first couple of years here, I did), but normally those are on sunny days.  Today, on my way to the gym (yes, I finally joined a gym for the first time in my life!)...I decided to stop at a local appliance store where I've picked up cardboard before.  Luckily it had stopped raining by the time I got there, and, luckily, the damp cardboard boxes folded much easier then the dry ones.

I don't recall mentioning this before (and I know last year I documented little here despite accomplishing a few things), but last fall, I began collecting large pieces of cardboard with the goal of smothering sections of the field to prepare them for planting my dreamed-of native meadow.  Aside from the boxes, I collected bags and bags of leaf bags full of mostly oak and maple leaves from a suburban area near my work.  I began covering my crownvetch problem with cardboard, then I scattered a thick layer of leaves on top to weigh it down, conceal the cardboard so it is not an eyesore, and create more of a barrier for the sun to penetrate and the plants to grow through.  I'm uncertain if this will be enough to eradicate my despised crownvetch patch, but I do expect it to work in the grassy areas.
 From November 16, 2013, smothering Eurasian weeds and
 grasses along a path.
Hopefully, the extra thick layer of grass clippings is enough to
prevent weeds from growing through the gaps between the pole
and the cardboard.
I don't remember the exact temperature, but I remember being 
surprised to see a spider and a few insects warming themselves
on the cardboard.

Today, I went out in the light drizzle to continue what I'd started.  By the time I was half through, my hair was drenched, my denim shirt was wet down to the T-shirt I had on under it, and my sneakers were soaked.  Still, with this warm (almost balmy after our windchill days) weather, I kept plugging along until I depleted my supply of fall leaves.  It makes me wish I'd made more trips to that suburban street lined with scores of bagged leaves.  Maybe next year, I'll do better.

A small patch of crownvetch quickly took over an entire area.
The darker, wet leaves in the foreground (right) is from work I'd
done earlier this fall.  The lighter, dry leaves are from today.  
I think I should probably extend the coverage next time I get 
a chance.
It is a good thing the cardboard blends in with the leaves... I just
may have to spread them thinner once I lay more cardboard,
unless I figure out something else I can use.

While working, drenched from the rain, I thought of the picture this post would paint...then, I even got Jeff to snap a few shots of me as I finished up.  I don't think I look as much like the drowned rat I felt like, but here I am:

I lined the path with the brown paper lawn bags, then covered them with the remaining leaves--oh, and I got some sawdust from the shop class at work that I've been using as well.  Come spring, I'm hoping to be able to plant the seedlings that I will winter sow in the coming weeks (I actually got a head start on some of them back in October!).  I'd like to have a nice start of native grasses and wildflowers to line the path and hint at what is to come...then seed the areas behind them and wait as they become established.

One of the paths that will lead through the meadow.
The same path now bordered by a narrow strip of brown paper
bags covered in leaves.  (After)


Ellen Honeycutt said...

I saw SO many bags of leaves this year. If only I had been younger and had a truck, I could have picked up a field's worth of suburban leaves.

Good progress!

David said...

We don't have a truck either...I use my car as one. I found that I could get about three in the trunk, three in the back seat and one or two in the passenger seat (except the day I had to pick up Jeff on the way home). I can't remember how many trips I made, but I'm sure I had at least 25 bags before Thanksgiving break (and the normal collection process) put an end to it.

Somewhere I have pictures of rows of bagged leaves waiting to be used.


Thanks for the encouragement. I do feel like I'm making progress...as long as I don't look at the percentage of the property that has yet to be improved. Oh well, at least I'm entering this growing season with a plan and a lot of motivation. :)