Today the sun rose out of the East, a perfect orange circle moving across the wall in my apartment. It was eery – forest fire sun – and I realized, it’s burn season. A gal I talked to from Red Bluff says people are keeping their animals inside, it’s so bad up there.
I’m conflicted – the smokey air irritates my throat and mouth. But, the air temperature is so nice, it’s just impossible to sit indoors all the time, watching the yard work pile up. So, the other day I resolved to wear a mask when I go outside – a paper mask for working around the yard and a brightly colored bandana for outings. Walmart has bandanas in all kinds of colors for about $2 a piece. They also offer a halfway decent deal on bananas, but you can check that out for yourself.
As you all know, I’ve been working on getting rid of sections of my lawn where the sun beats so hot watering is just a waste. When I just plain stopped watering a couple of years ago, I found out, weeds can survive, even thrive, on very little water. Sticker weeds took over my yard so bad, our dogs got sores on their feet. Badges got sores so bad we took him to see the Doc, who was shocked and told us to keep him around the patio for a couple of days. That’s when I decided I had to do something.
We had a huge black tarp from a roof job we’d done a while back, so I started cutting it into sections and dragging it out over the yard, weighting it down with stray bricks and rocks. It worked like gangbusters – it didn’t just kill the crabgrass and sticker weeds, it vaporized them.
The problem being, can’t get the plastic too close to trees, because it would kill the roots. I figured cardboard would be better, let some moisture through to the trees while still starving the weeds of light. I saw people were doing this around town so, as crappy as it looked at first, I decided to try it. I started collecting big cardboard boxes – be careful telling your friends you’re collecting cardboard! I’ve been flattening and placing them around the shade line of our little redwood tree. Then my husband bought me a truck load of bark from this new business over at 20th and Fair Streets ($20 for a yard of very nice shredded cedar) , and I covered the boxes as best I could. This below is one yard.
Meanwhile the plastic has sat all Summer, and it’s starting to rot into shreds.
I have to move fast or Winter rains (and I promise, they’re coming alright!) will just bring back all those weeds again. When I get it cleaned up my husband says he’ll go get me another load or two of bark.
Rich on This Old House says you need at least six inches of mulch to block weeds.
But then what? This big expanse of bark for my dogs to track all over creation? We had to think, what will we do with this bark area, besides, bake bark in the sun.
Almost on cue, my husband’s phone rang, and it was Whipple. Whipple has been working on his house, getting it all ADA compliant for his beautiful daughter Kachina, who is the greatest thing on wheels. My husband’s been offering his consulting services on the floor work, and went over to see how their new wheelchair friendly bathroom is working out. When he came home, the back of our pick-up truck was full of baby trees.
Whipple has a green thumb. Everything he gives us grows like crazy. He gave me this selvia in a black plastic garbage bag, having dug it out of his garden on a whim and having nothing else to put it in. I’ve put it along a section of fence in the baking sun, it takes hardly any water at all.
This is a “buck brush” he gave us in a gallon pot years ago.
Here’s the red bud he gave us about five years ago.
Here’s it’s little brother, I separated the roots.
So, when I saw the new trees Whipple sent, I had an instant vision of our new back yard, transformed from the plains of the Kalihari, to an urban forest. It gave me new motivation to get out there and bust a gut.
Hah! Try getting any work done with these guys around.
Statistics have indicated that people who have pets live longer, happier, healthier lives. I’ve read recently that people who own dogs are less likely to be the victims of crime. I’ve read they make happier marriages, happier children. I know my grandmother seemed to come back to life when we got her a little dog. She complained about him all the time, but didn’t seem to be satisfied unless he was directly under her feet.
I have dogs because they are irresistible.
I’ll keep you posted!