Changing your environment for the better – creating shade

 

 

Crabgrass find it's way - through overlapping layers of heavy cardboard and six inches of shredded bark.

Crabgrass find it’s way – through overlapping layers of heavy cardboard and six inches of shredded bark.  The little oak seedlings are courtesy of our happy blue jay family. 

Do blue jays ever remember where they hid their nuts? I’ve watched them many times, they have the funniest little ritual in caching their plunder. First they peck out a hole in the ground, then carefully lay in their nut or acorn or whatever. They pat it over with dirt and debris – and then here’s the funny part – I’ve watched them search around, you know, for just that thing they want, a little piece of leaf or a bit of bark, and then put it on top of that buried treasure.  Then they turn their beak sideways and give it a quick pat pat before they take off.

Want to have some fun? As Jay is making his last arrangements over his little nut, say loudly, “What are you hiding?” Jay will  look at you funny, a panic expression on his pointy little face, and dig that nut up and fly away with it.  

I wonder how often I find a little tree growing in that spot a year or so later. With their hilariously bad memory for retrieving their stash, it’s a wonder more blue jays don’t starve to death. 

I’ve been moving around my yard in the early morning and late evening, when the sun is past, cleaning up the last stands of weeds before it really starts getting hot outside. I pulled aside some of the black plastic I’d laid down to kill a big patch of weeds, and now I’m wondering, what to do with it?

It doesn't get much deader than that.

It doesn’t get much deader than that.

This is the brightest, hottest part of the yard. It’s amazing how happily weeds took over this area when I stopped watering it a couple of years ago, and just as amazing how quickly a black tarp under the hot Winter sun can vaporize even the most vigorous weed patch. So now I got dirt, aka “dust,” and I’m wondering how amazingly quick it will get across the yard and over the porch and up the stairs of my apartment. 

We reclaimed some of the dirt patch with the little trees Whipple gave us. They are doing well, but Summer lies ahead.

Here's my "zero garden" - the echinacea isn't doing too bad, but has to be watered every day.

Here’s my “zero garden” – the echinacea isn’t doing too bad, but has to be watered every day.

Whipple gave us three red  buds and a crepe myrtle. They were in tiny pots, and looked at least half dead when I planted them. They were still bare from Winter, there wasn’t the tiniest sign of a bud. After I put them in the ground I watched and watched for them to grow. One by one they started to push teeny green buds out of their spindly branches, and the next thing I knew, all four were growing sassy in their little wells.

This red bud was nothing but a stick in a tiny plastic pot a couple of months ago.

These red bud saplings were nothing but sticks in pots a couple of months ago. 

Notice how bright that part of the yard is – I might use shade cloth. The shade in the picture is from my dogs’ beds, which I lay out over the metal cages  every day to get fresh air.

I am afraid my clean areas will be a dust hazard in the Summer, a mud slick in the Winter – I have to think of good  ground cover.  Bark and gravel are expensive and have their problems. Of course there are other options.

For now, I will use the black plastic and some old "sport court" some friends gave us to keep the mud out of the pool.

For now, I will use the black plastic and some old “sport court” some friends gave us to keep the mud out of the pool. There are a couple of the oak saplings Whipple gave us, including a cork oak he grew from an acorn.

I’m going to keep watering and mowing in the shady areas, it’s easier to keep a nice lawn in the shade. And, I guess I’m going to plant more trees, create more shade.

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Changing your environment for the better – creating shade

    • I think they definitely serve more practical purpose than any CARD or city of Chico employee.

      For one thing, they’re my cops – nobody gets close to my yard without setting off the jays.

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