Peter Hentges (jbru) wrote,
Peter Hentges

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Domicile productivity

While killing time between waking and the Twins game this afternoon, I decided to Take Steps on improving my domicile. In particular, I've been worried/embarrassed about the state of my lawn and landscaping.

With the recent hot weather and lack of rain (apart from last night) my lawn, like many around here, has gotten quite brown. The weeds are continuing to do well, though and stick out like big, green sore thumbs in its midst. All along the foundation of my house weeds hold reign. They have been controlled in a few small areas (like the north side of my garage where the ferns and hostas hold them at bay) but largely run wild.

So today I decided that it was getting time to do something with the south side of the house. This is the side on which I have a neighbor and where it rarely gets mowed correctly by the guy who stops by to do that for me. (I know, I know. If I mowed my own damn lawn this wouldn't be a problem.) So I figured I'd take stock and work out what I was going to do with it, picking up any necessary supplies to accomplish the task this weekend.

There are three evergreen shrubs on that side of the house. They don't really do anything for the landscape where they are, particularly since they are overwhelmed by weeds. Some hostas were put in there earlier this year, in hopes they'd do OK in the sheltered spot between two of the shrubs. They are looking pretty unhappy, though and will be better on the west side of the house where they can be sheltered by the big tree in the back yard.

The majority of what's there is weeds gone wild. Where there is a strip of lawn, it is almost completely taken over by Creeping Charlie. So I stepped it off and it's about 30 feet long (the width of the house) and about 15 feet deep (from the house to the neighbor's fence). I figured what I'd do is go get some black plastic, tack it down over the whole lot, let it die out and then plant something there next year. So I went off to the Home Depot to get supplies.

While there I picked up a digging shovel while wondering how I'd gotten along so long without one. I also picked up a cordless electric string trimmer/edger. The latter is also something I've wanted for a while as I find the gas ones obnoxious and the corded varieties a hassle. I didn't see the kind of plastic sheeting I wanted and so picked up some landscape fabric, thinking I might make it work.

When I returned home I was happy to see that our friend the Master Gardener had stopped by for a visit. I chatted with her about my plans and she said the landscape fabric wouldn't do what I wanted and that she'd recommend just using RoundUp on the area. I'd wanted to avoid herbicides because of Ericka's breathing difficulties, worries about local pets and general environmental opposition. She pointed out that RoundUp has an active life of about four hours so that those worries could be easily managed and no lasting harm would come from its use. So that's the new plan.

This weekend I'll obtain some RoundUp and hopefully spray down the area to kill off the unwanted vegetation. After the RoundUp works its magic in a couple of weeks, I'll lay down the landscape fabric to keep new things from starting next spring and prevent erosion of the site for the rest of the year (particularly as it would erode into my neighbor's yard).

I've been looking at the University of Minnesota's Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Series for the last few weeks as I've pondered this move. One of the nice things I've found there is their plant choosing program. With help of that program I've come up with a few idea for what I might do with that area of my yard that would work with any greater plan. Overall, however, I've decided to see if a landscape architect would be an affordable option. I'd like to have a plan laid out that I could implement in stages as I had time and/or money to do so without having to involve professional contractors.

In the meantime, I keep surfing the web and thinking about ideas. Hopefully things will get slowly and steadily better.

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