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Delayed Spring Weeding/Mulching

Last year, I wrote a couple of posts about how, having retired the year before, I had turned my annual spring weeding chore into a landscaping project transforming this part of our backyard from this…

…to this.

But as the cold winter weather gave way to warmer spring time temperatures and I began to venture out into our backyard, I was disappointed to see that the new flower beds and gravel walkways that I had labored so hard on the previous summer, had not fared very well with the change in seasons.

But my first task, as always was to weed and mulch our front flower bed before all the Hosta Lillys began to emerge.

In fact, due to my busy travel schedule, I was actually rather late with this task as the Hosta shoots were first coming up as I took on this activity.  I have learned from past experience that it is almost impossible to mulch under a Hosta Lilly once it has fully bloomed its variegated leaves.  Fortunately, it was just a few hours labor to complete this chore.

But, because of the need to pressure wash the pool deck and retaining wall…

…(far right has yet to be sprayed) and again a busy travel schedule in May, it wasn’t until June that I finally got around to beginning the restoration of our backyard.  And unlike last year, this year I had a deadline with family coming to town the last week of June.

The accumulation of leaves was not unexpected given the number of trees we have in our backyard. What was surprising though was the fact that so many weeds, both small and large had taken root and flourished on top of the landscape fabric that I had carefully laid down the year before.

As I got down on my knees and began to pull up the weeds from the gravel walkway, I discovered that enough sand and soil had apparently blown in among the gravel over the winter to provide sustenance for the weeds to grow.  At least I was pleased to find that the weeds had not just shot up through the landscape fabric.  But when I began weeding the flowerbeds, I had a heartbreaking discovery.

Over the winter some of the hardwood mulch that I had covered the beds with had decayed and this rich organic matter provided excellent growing soil for the weeds sprouting in the beds.  I had no idea the mulch would degrade so quickly.  Short of switching to artificial mulch, which I would never consider since it looks fake, I will just have to endure this task each spring.

I decided to start in the sculpted garden first as this was an eye-sore we would see each time we came out onto the patio.

On my first day, I was able to completely weed the patterned walkway and two of the beds.

Then the next day, I was able to finish this area.  It was quite a relief to see this section return to its much more graceful appearance.

On my third day, I was able to finish this section completely.  I was pleased to stand back and look at the sharp straight lines providing the barrier between bed and walkway.  By this time, I had already made two trips to Lowe’s to load up the back of my wife’s Outback with bags of mulch and felt I was getting into the groove of finishing this job.

Then the next day it rained—all day.  It started with just a few sprinkles but before I could start outside, it began to rain more fiercely.  With the warm temperatures, I would not have minded the misting but when it really began to rain, I knew I would be miserable getting soaking wet and dirty with mulch sticking to me and my clothes.

And then overnight, we got a torrential downpour that meant I had to fool with the pool rather than the flower beds delaying me once again.

After getting the pool pumped down to its normal water level, running to get a water sample tested, and then chemically treating the pool, I managed to put down a little more mulch in some of the beds by the back door before I was off to San Francisco again.

Returning from our trip, I basically had three days to finish my weeding and mulching.  By this time, the heat had gotten to where I could only work for three or four hours in the morning.

I managed to finish what my wife refers to as her “secret garden” and then with the few remaining bags of mulch I had left, I returned to the neglected bed on the other side of our front door (opposite the one with the Hostas).

And that was as far as I got before our company arrived.

I still had several beds to go like this one which had grown somewhat wild with volunteer weeds.  But at least I had most all of the ones finished that surrounded the pool which is where we spent some fun time during their visit.

With my busy “retirement schedule,” I guess I will just have to resign myself to the fact that, short of hiring all this work out, it will likely take me most of the warm weather season to get all my weeding/mulching completed.

In retrospect, I don’t recall that while still working full time, I ever managed to lay down forty bags of mulch over the summer weekends, so I still have accomplished more in spite of all my other activities.  And it is so nice to see all the new mulch in the beds that I did complete.  Maybe now I can take a break and enjoy the pool seeing all the nice flower beds!

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