This is why you always always always mulch

OR “lol, look what I did to myself!”

We took out a bunch of junipers in our front yard.  Like… a lot of them.  If I remember correctly, there were 9 stumps in phase 1, where we took out the bank that obscured the yard/house from the front.  We did phase 1 in September of 2011.

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Then we trucked in like 10 yards of really nice compost to rebuild the berm and reseed our lawn, then threw in some drought-tolerant perennials.

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And it sat like that over the winter.  The new soil we brought in did an effective job of mulching the area and preventing weeds from coming through.  Since I’m cheap and didn’t want to invest in mulch when the job was only half done, I planted pumpkins.  They make a great (albeit water-needy) mulch, and the added benefit is that at the end of the growing season, you get pumpkins.

Pumpkins instead of mulch
Yes, I’m aware my neighbors have a sickle.  I’m still not sure why.

Then in late-August, early-September of 2012, we embarked on phase 2 of the juniper removal process, wherein we removed all of the junipers and their stumps from the steep embankment between our and our neighbor’s front yards as the first portion. The second portion of phase 2 involved building a dry stream bed/waterfall type thing to help prevent excessive erosion from our neighbor’s downspouts draining directly toward the corner of our foundation.  It was a pretty intensive project that involved buying probably $200 worth of rocks, rummaging through every part of my yard (including raiding the nice stony area under an outdoor faucet) for as many largish sized rocks as I could locate, digging a huge hole to act as a swale, and embedding the bigger rocks (one may call them boulders) into the hillside, and trying to make it look less man-made than it actually is.

dry stream bed/waterfall in process
dry stream bed/waterfall in process

When I was buying my plants to put in, I got like… a BUNCH of bulbs.  I’ve never planted bulbs before, but I found some really  neat looking purple and white tulips and some white daffodils at Costco, plus a bunch of allium bulbs, so I went a little nuts.  Shortly after acquiring all of my plants, getting them in the ground, and waiting for the weather to cool down enough to plant bulbs, my appendix bit the dust.  After spending a couple days in the hospital on IV antibiotics (it had gone gangrenous!  GROSS!), my surgeon told me not to lift anything more than 20lbs for a month.  So it was November by the time I was “allowed” to do anything really effectively as yard work, although I did get my bulbs planted!  But in Western Washington, as soon as November hits, the weather sucks and it pours rain and it’s cold and cloudy and generally unpleasant to be outside.  I was NOT into mulching in November.

Weeds and tulips around dry streambed/waterfall

So it rained, and rained, and rained.  Then it snowed a little, then it rained again.  And let me tell you….  Rain does great things for bulbs.  It also does pretty impressive things for 40 years worth of weed-seed accumulation that wasn’t able to grow due to not getting water under the junipers.

Weeds and tulips around dry streambed/waterfall

I have some world record sized weeds.  And every square inch of soil is filled with them.  In order to successfully mulch and make sure we don’t end up with weedy mulch, the weedy areas need to be covered with something robust, like some cardboard, or a few thick layers of newspaper.  But you can’t easily lay down cardboard or newspaper between tulips that are 6″ apart.  So you have to pull the weeds.  All of them.

Tiny olive tree

And when you decide to plant an olive tree?  Ya gotta move all of the weeds out of the way so you will eventually be able to mulch around it.  The area where you spread that beautiful luscious topsoil a couple years ago?  Shotweed.  That’s the weed that has those seeds that it flings in all directions as soon as you touch it.  A mountain of shotweed.

Lots of weeds!

Since these photos were taken I’ve put probably 8 hours into pulling weeds.  If we had just mulched in October when we should have…. none of this would be happening right now.

But hopefully in the next few weeks, we can spend 8 hours putting down mulch and avoid all of this next spring.  Bah Humbug!

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