…and a replanted front and back lawn, trimmed oak and locust trees, and loads more dirt and composted horse manure!
We did some seriously back breaking hard labour this weekend. It started on Friday when I had a ginormous load of triple mix delivered onto our front lawn, from the folks at Jenkins Soil, and Chris and I started digging the holes for the first bed’s posts. We put gravel in the holes with the posts to assist with drainage and hopefully prevent early rot. That was all we got done before my awesome parents arrived. We got up bright and early Saturday and got started–Chris and Dad in the backyard dealing with trees and Mom and I filling up the first raised beds with soil and composted horse manure (my parents brought a giant truckload with them).
So, a word about my Dad and his plan to trim a couple giant limbs off the giant oak in our backyard. First of all, my Dad, well, he’s a bit of a dare devil. Some might say crazy. I prefer to call him a risk taker. So… this weekend he nearly gave us all heart attacks. You see, the tree limb in question, the one that covered the majority of our back yard, well, it was rather high up. I’m terrible at estimating height but Chris is guessing about 30 feet up. We didn’t have a ladder that long, so my Dad, well, he had a solution for that. “We’ll just lash them together,” he said last weekend, when we first discussed the plan. I thought he was joking.
Suffice it to say there were some tense moments, like when the trimmed branch tried to take out the stepladder that made the base of his contraption. And another when the branch the ladder was resting on split down the centre instead of cutting clean away and nearly took him with it. I think my mother, Chris and I all have a few extra gray hairs, but thankfully, he didn’t suffer a scratch. Did I mention he had his right hip replaced only a year ago?
So… getting back to the beds. Did you know that 7 cubic yards is A LOT of soil? It sure is. I have the aching back and sore pipes to prove it. Actually, we suspect they were a bit generous with the soil. We moved a gazillion wheelbarrows of it around the property, in what felt like a never ending conveyor belt of dirt. We had more than enough to very thickly top dress both the front and back lawns (we bought some Eco-lawn from Anything Grows in Stratford last weekend to replant our lawns with). We even had enough to top up the side strip of lawn that runs between the houses, and I still have a giant pile of it in the back for god knows what. That and more composted horse manure.
We debated about dealing with the lawn under the beds and in the end decided to just lay down some landscaping fabric in the bottoms to help kill it off. I’ve read you can use cardboard too, which would have broken down eventually. I think I’ll do that next time. Oh yeah, next time… next time I might try this out. I’ve already decided that if this summer proves we’ve opened up the backyard canopy enough to allow good sun for at least 6 hours, I’m going to add another bed or two back there! Yes, I may have a little of that crazy passed along from my father.
So after my parents headed back home Chris got to seeding the lawn and I dug into the beds and planted up the garlic, onion sets and various seeds that can go out now, like my peas, carrots, beets, radishes, spinach, lettuce and potatoes. I also put up the expandable willow twig trellises I got at Anything Grows (if you’re ever in Stratford, you absolutely MUST go there).
After doing some further reading and researching last week I decided to redo my layout plan more in the vein of French style potager gardens. They’re just a bit more “arranged” and will include some flowers like nasturtiums and maybe marigolds, if I can squeeze ’em in, for colour and interest. The trellises function as vertical interest points and I have yet to do something in the centre. I was thinking urns, or birdbaths, but with space at a premium, I’m thinking maybe instead some kind of decorative garden item, on a post, or one of those freestanding posts that I can hang something on. Not sure yet.