Long exhausting weekend

As you probably know if you follow the blog at all, I’ve been waging war against my back yard. The first battle was removing foot-thick mats of Vinca Minor, a very attractive, but very invasive vine in Washington. It’s commonly called periwinkle and sold in large box stores like the place with the orange aprons. Under the thick mat of Vinca, there were 2 stumps which were the main reason I decided to pull it out (and the dry dead grass that was sticking through it). The project ended up getting a little out of hand, and I’ll admit, there’s still a small patch in the corner that I have yet to remove. My yard waste bin is full for the next 1.5 weeks, and weighs about 900 lbs, I have tracks in the lawn from dragging it up the hill.

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We had to take 2 truck loads of the vine to a local yard waste recycling site to get rid of it, but that left me with a fairly large divot in the back yard, and more importantly, no topsoil over my sand. In preparation for this weekend, I spent last week’s mornings digging through about 750 square feet of soil on my hands and knees with a 3-pronged hand rake, sifting through the soil to pull out as many bits and pieces of vinca as I could find, and it was a lot, 2 wheelbarrows full.

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It seemed like no matter how many times I ran through the same area, I would still find chunks of vinca floating around, which is terribly frustrating. You may be wondering “Laurel, why are you so neurotic?” Well, I’m neurotic because any chunk of vinca stem/vine/etc will sprout into a full blown plant, but before emerging from the surface, will send out an impressive network of runners, spanning feet, which all will continue growth if broken off from the “parent.” I know that this stupid vine will plague me for the rest of the time we’re in the house.
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My best way to combat this is to lay down a barrier that will help to block the vinca from making it to the surface. Many people would use landscape fabric, but it always ends up poking out somewhere, and looks trashy. I’d rather deal with weeds than put that down. Plus, it’s not cheap. My best idea was to lay down a layer of newspaper, which will break down over time, is water permeable, and is easily broken through with a shovel when I go to plant something.
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On Saturday morning, I had 8 yards of topsoil delivered. I don’t how much that sounds like to you, but it’s 216 cubic feet of dirt. It’s estimated that a cubic foot of soil weighs at least 75lbs, bringing our weight total to over 16,000lbs. Awesome. Anyway, the truck came, and I took a bunch of photos.
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As you can see, it’s in the driveway, which means we need to truck it the length of our house, along the side, and down the bottom of the yard. It’s a long trip which luckily, is downhill most of the way.
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I’m disappointed with myself for not taking a photo of the pile with the truck gone. I was a little dismayed by how large it was, knowing that we’d be taking it all back to the backyard manually.
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Luckily, Craig was very helpful and manned the shoveling station, making sure I always had a full wheelbarrow to dump.
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Thankfully for our backs, by 1pm, we had to get showered and pick his Grandmother up from downtown Seattle to prepare for Russian Easter.
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At this point, we had about 3/4 of the topsoil moved, leaving a lot less work for Sunday.
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Sunday we managed to bang the remaining 2 yards out in about an hour and a half. Those went into the raised beds that my veggies shall grace, and in a big ass pile.
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The bottom of the yard has yet to be raked out, I should get that done on Monday or Tuesday, as well as build my auxiliary raised bed on the south side of the big deck, for strawberries and a couple lilacs. (Don’t let this photo fool you, you’re looking at a 60 foot length of dumped soil)
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I’m pumped about getting my veggies started. I’m going to get my peas planted next weekend, and get the lumber for/build my trellises this week.
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I’ll probably also put in a very lightly raised bed for some dahlia tubers I hope to get from Kim if they survived the freakish winter we endured. If not, I’ll put in something far less interesting, but cheap, as a place holder for when she has excess. Nothing beats beautiful red, yellow, pink and orange freshly cut flowers into November.
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Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to take a couple ibuprophen and have a refreshing IPA.

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