Well one advantage of not being able to travel this year due to the pandemic has been that I have had more than ample time to weed and mulch our flower beds. Rather this year, all I had to wait for was warm enough weather to get started.
I always have to start in the front and mulch this bed first before the Hosta Lilies begin to shoot up as it is next to impossible to mulch under them once they have grown. I bought the bags of mulch for this bed so early in the year that my favorite hardware store had not even set up their drive through where they load it into your vehicle for you. When a warm day in February came, I was able to lay it down. I told my wife in all the years we have lived here; this was the earliest I had ever mulched that bed. It was so early, that I even beat the weeds before they came up.
With that bed taken care of, I could then focus on the backyard. It was two years ago that I turned our herb garden from this…
As I wrote in an update last year, this bed did not fare as well as I had hoped with all the landscape fabric that I laid down. Weeds seemed to grow up with even a minimal amount of dirt in the pea gravel and the mulched beds. And with all my extensive traveling last year, it wasn’t until the middle of June before I had gotten all the weeds pulled out and new mulch added.
But this year, with the early start, I finished this bed while the azaleas were still in bloom.
In the past, I have posted a number of before and after pictures from our backyard, but this year, I decided to just give you the finished images along with a bit of a story.
This is what the weeds and wet leaves looked like last year, and this year was virtually the same. But this year, I employed two new techniques that will hopefully prevent the weeds from coming back next year. Only time will tell.
When I was building the new herb garden two years ago, I decided to reuse the pea gravel from the original design rather than throwing it out.
But due to mulch and dirt that had gotten mixed in with the pea gravel, I had to wash it, one bucket at a time. As I was weeding the pea gravel walkways this year, I was amazed at how much dirt had blown in which gave these stubborn weeds just enough soil to take root.
This gravel chase serves as a path for rainwater to flow down to the lowest point in the yard thus preventing it from running through the beds and washing away the mulch. As such, this gravel had the most soil in it of all the gravel walkways. So, I again employed my technique of washing the gravel one bucket at a time.
I was amazed at how dirty the water was that came out as I washed it. While this was a slow tedious process, I didn’t really mind because, I couldn’t go anywhere anyway. And since I couldn’t go to the gym either, carting the buckets of gravel over to where I could wash them and then carting them back gave me a good workout too.
As I was removing the dirty gravel from this chase, I also found out that a lot of the gravel was washing under the fence into our neighbor’s backyard. Therefore, before putting back the clean pea gravel, I installed some more of the steel landscape border along the fence and added a couple bags of new pea gravel to replace that lost to my neighbor. Standing up after replacing the last bucket full, I was pleased with the results.
The other discovery I made was as I was pulling weeds in the lower bed, I was amazed at how much dirt was underneath the mulch on top of the landscape fabric.
This really did explain why so many weeds had proliferated over the winter. Putting new mulch on top of this was not going to prevent the weeds from coming back so I removed all of the old mulch/dirt, relocating it to other parts of the yard that needed rich soil.
As I stepped back from my work in this bed, I was again most satisfied knowing there was no soil in this new mulch to give weeds a foothold.
This year, having completed the majority of the flowerbeds before the end of April, months earlier than last year, we next just had to wait for warmer weather and pool water temperatures before we could enjoy gazing at the graceful, sculpted beds while floating in the pool.