Friday, April 1, 2011

Chapter 22- Easy Lawn-scaping

Mulch ado about nothing......

Tony in front of the new
house - ready to mulch

We built a new house a few years ago when the building boom was, well, booming.

The contractor we used (and that's a whole other saga) claimed to know about maintaining the soil and preserving the environment.  He knew neither.

He removed (and carted away to parts unknown) every bit of top soil from around our new house.  We were left with solid clay that wouldn't even grow builders' grade, annual rye grass.

Thinking the project was too massive for me to handle, I had several landscapers give me proposals on basic plantings - just enough to give me a lawn and make the place look presentable.

A pile of wood from
downed trees chipped
into mulch

I was shocked at their prices, the cheapest of which was $40,000.  Yikes! 

For a couple of trees, a few bushes and some grass plus I'd have to buy TOP SOIL!!   I decided to tackle the project myself.

The first year, I piled raw manure from the barn over the clay to a depth of 18 inches.  I just kept piling and piling the stuff then let it sit there and cook.  I covered it with straw to make it look presentable and it didn't look half bad.

The following year, I tilled in it and repeated the process.

My field of zinnias
By the third year, the soil was starting to come around so I got brave and broadcasted zinnia seeds all over the area.  I watered them in and waited to see what would come up.

To my pleasant surprise, I had a field of gorgeous, colorful, happy looking zinnias for my front lawn.  Every one who came to our house commented about how wonderful it looked.

I had more work to do to get the soil ready for serious planting but the field of zinnias gave me an idea.  Instead of planting grass for a front lawn, I'd put in a cottage garden.

3 inches of mulch was piled
over the dirt (and any weeds)

It's been 5 years since we've build our house and I'm just starting to put in the front yard garden.  Rose bushes and magnolia trees went in last fall.  This spring, I've covered the "lawn" area with wood chip mulch to make it look presentable.

Rose buses line the path to
the kitchen door as the
magnolia trees take center stage
As the elements of my cottage garden are added, it will be easy to push back the mulch and plant.  

In the mean time, it looks good and prevents erosion.  For a bonus, as the mulch decomposes, it will feed the plants and provide more organic matter for the soil.

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