I am NOT somebody with a green thumb. To be quite honest my favorite aspect of apartment dwelling was the lack of weekly lawn care. At least down in Arizona you can get away with AstroTurf or rocks and stuff. But up here north of the Mason-Dixon line we tend to have to take care of the outside of our houses.
Well if I hate mowing the lawn so much you can imagine how much I love to landscape. I usually defer to Jen in these matters but with three little overlords we just can’t get out there all at once. A couple of years ago I paid a local place to do some work to tighten up the rock border, add some sod and general clean up. This was before:
So fast forward a few years (and babies) and we were finally ready to turn that stretch of dirt, weeds and ivy into something acceptable. We started searching around the local nurseries and found a dense yew at a local place called The Barn Nursery and Landscape. They were having a sale so we took all the baby seats out of the minivan, headed over and picked 14 shrubs. Which by the way turns out to be the absolute limit you can fit in a Chrysler Town and Country. It’s actually quite impressive…roughly a 4×8 space.
The plan was simple:
1. Move the flagstone rock border back
2. Till the ever living hell out of everything
3. Add a wheelbarrow of compost
4. Add some root booster stuff
5. Lay down weedblocker (black stuff)
6. Put Pea Gravel down to stop the flagstones from slowly sinking into the ground every year
7. Plant Shrubs in ground
Now I don’t really think that sounds simple…straightforward maybe but not really simple physically when you consider each shrub weights a billion pounds. I ended up heading down the road and rented a rototiller from a local place for three hours but I have to tell you that between the power of this thing and the clay in the IL soil my arms were in a seriously bad place the next few days. Maybe I let it dig down a little bit or whatever but my joints where killing me the next day. Here’s a pic of a before shot, the rototiller (hell yeah go team minivan) and the first run of tilling:
After that it’s pretty much just stick stuff in the ground. Funny thing is apparently with shrubs you don’t need to even take the burlap off the root balls. Just cut the twine and then cut the burlap down a bit…it just biodegrades. Anyways after two days of work this is the result:
So far we’ve come in under budget (although I’m going to pickup more mulch soon) by like half with me doing the labor and the sale prices on the shrubs. Now as long as they don’t die we’ll be golden. Not sure what is going to happen with the ivy honestly…you never can tell with that stuff. I picked as much as I could out after tilling but hopefully the weed blocker will give us an edge. Time will tell.