Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Big Dig

The drainage in the back half of our yard is bad.  Like, "standing water for months around the raised gardens" bad.  Since it is literally the middle of May before it usually dries out enough that we can mow back there for the first time, it gets a little, um, deep.  And anytime it rains, we have to skip mowing one corner lest we get the mower stuck in the ankle-deep mud that the grass is growing in.

Last fall I decided to start a new campaign to eradicate all of the difficult-to-mow sections of our yard, and I started in the back corner.  I originally just planned a narrow bed along the property line, but after I hit it with the herbicide and started to turn it over, it looked pretty puny.  So this spring I went medieval on that corner, using half a gallon of Round-Up to kill off the grass so I didn't have to strip off the sod.  It's swampy enough back there without lowering the ground level by another 6".

Here is a photo of The Swampy Hellhole Back Corner of Our Yard, after herbicide but before amending the soil:

As we've gotten deeper into spring, the high-tide mark in the back yard has gradually receded, so I've been able to work the bed gradually over the last few weeks.  After more than a few evenings and weekends of work, more bags of sand than I care to admit, and about a dozen bags of mulch (plus a trunkload of free hostas from my parents - thanks, guys!), it's finally done for the year:
That's not a great picture of the garden - the hostas are still a little shell-shocked from their trip last week, so they're a bit on the floppy side.  I'm hoping they'll perk up a bit and fill in a little this year, eventually forming a solid swathe of hosta goodness in a few years.

The good news is that the added sand and plants and air that's been worked into the soil have raised the ground level in the area of the garden, so I didn't have to put bog plants back there.  Well, okay, I did plant two papyrus plants in the lowest section, but that was just for fun.  The addition of my usual weed-preventing trench around the outside of the bed also helps channel some of the water away from the lawn, so it's slightly less squishy back there.  But, as you can see in the photo, we still can't mow as often as I'd like.

This will probably be Liza's last year with the castle - she's already in danger of getting stuck when using the "secret" entrance - and once that's gone, we'll have to decide whether to replace it with another playhouse there, or just turn that into a garden, too.  I'm kind of thinking I might loose-lay some bricks out there and make a tiny little patio, with wrought-iron chairs or a chaise or something.  It's pretty shady there all the time, and it would be nice to take a break from the soil amendment parade I've been marching in this year.  Plus, I've got my eye on some other areas of the yard that need some work ...

1 comment:

mlf said...

Hmmm.... why not covert more of the backyard into garden space? Less mowing, more color, and more animal habitat! It is a win-win!

(I guess the only loss is sprained back muscles?)