Last Friday was a beautiful day and I was lucky enough to be able to take the afternoon off work to enjoy it. I initially had no clear plan of what I wanted to do. I just knew I wanted to be outdoors. On my way out the door of my office, a coworker joked, “If you don’t know what to do, I have tomatoes to plant and bags of dirt to unload!”. That was the reminder I needed. My flower beds!
There is no doubt the outdoor area of my little realm is in need of attention. The word overgrown comes to mind. The house was built in 1974 and my parents were the original owners. My mom and I worked hard and were able to pay to put new siding, new windows, a new deck, and all new railings on the house a few years ago when all of the above were literally crumbling to ruins. Now I am ready to tackle some projects on my own.
As you can see in my before shot above, there are two burning bushes in the upper flower bed attempting to eat my house. They are out of control. You trim them down and then turn around and they are taller than the roof. They are absolutely beautiful when they turn red in the fall, but I have made the decision they have served their purpose over these many years and they will be going this summer.
The lower flower bed used to be planted with flowers when I was really little. I remember marigolds, petunias, and playing in the dirt with my little friends. After awhile the beds got filled in with lava rock. When I was a teenager I made an attempt to dig up some of the rock and plant again. That, as you can see by my before picture above, ended in a lovely combination of weeds, stray grass and maple tree sprouts, and the remaining rock that I was too lazy to remove.
I also need to do something about the rock wall that has shifted over the years from perpendicular to the driveway to sort of meeting it at a lazy angle like a rock wall reclining chair. But, I attempted to fix that once before as well, (I could be a bit of a gung-ho teenager at times), and I know it is a massive undertaking, so maybe next year.
For now my goal is simply to demo the massive snarl of weeds, grass, rocks, and bush monsters that is currently calling itself my flower beds and plant at least one flower sometime before the first autumnal freeze.
Friday was day one of the demo. I say “day one” not so much in the sense of let’s do a structured project requiring x number of days to transform my flower beds from hideously overgrown disgrace to gleaming display of proud gardener-ship. I say “day one” more in the sense of, it became clear to me an hour in to the job that un-disgracing this thing is definitely going to take more than one day. And day two is not going to happen until my brain and muscles forget the amount of work involved in day one. If it takes all summer, I’m totally okay with it. I’m just enjoying the process.
First thing on the agenda was proper tools. My current arsenal contained a 1974 wheelbarrow with only one handle (the other handle broke off sometime in the 1980s) and a rusty, bent garden shovel. So, money-off coupon in hand, I headed to my local Lowe’s home improvement store.
I had scoped out the wheelbarrow I wanted on a previous flower browsing trip. Now that brand was nowhere to be found. My third lap around the garden center I finally brought it up on my Lowe’s app on my phone and showed an employee that they were supposed to have 12, (I love apps that show store inventory), and he found one in the back. It was now an hour into my afternoon of flower bed fun, I was dripping with sweat, and I hadn’t even left the store yet. Eventually, wheelbarrow, shovel, garden rake, and gloves in hand, I headed for home.
One wheelbarrow load into the big dig and it really doesn’t look like I’ve done anything, does it? Well, trust me, I had.
Halfway through my second barrowful, I got my second visit from a neighbor stopping to chat and ask how I’m doing. That is one nice benefit of having lived in the same house your entire life. You’ve likely known your neighbors a long time. The sweet, now retired, man who watched me tear up and down the sidewalk, wearing out the plastic wheels on my big wheel when I was three, later watched the neighborhood boys and I (I was the only girl for blocks around) accidentally tear up his wife’s roses with a soccer ball in elementary school, and he still walked three houses up the street Friday to say it was good to see me outside again. I told him I was doing fine and assured him he would see me outside more this summer.
See that white thing in the middle of the above picture? That’s the back of my yard, and that’s a long way to push a wheelbarrow full of dirt and rocks uphill. By the time I had trekked the third wheelbarrow load to the back of the yard and made a twenty minute trip around the house with an eight pound string trimmer to tackle the waist-high weeds that had popped up (seemingly) overnight, I took a vote and my muscles and my throbbing head (why wasn’t I informed it would be this hot in the sun?) were in favor of calling it a day.
I should have opened the poll an hour sooner and indicated on the ballot that clean-up time should be included when calculating when to call it quits. The thrill of the day was long gone and I still had extension cords to wind up, tools to put away, and sweeping up to do.
But, here it is, a picture that clearly shows off the monumental results of my three and a half hours of toiling in the sun.
YES, I KNOW!! IT LOOKS LIKE I BARELY DID A THING!! But, please note the steps. You can actually see them now. I found them under several mutant bush/tree things that had sprouted from the side of the rock wall. I still need to dig the roots out, but for now I’m focusing on the small victories.
You can look forward to part two of the flower bed saga the next time we get a beautiful, sunshiny day here and the enticement of the outdoors lures me again, mindlessly into the trap of manual labor. Repeat after me, “It will be pretty when it’s done…”.