11 May 2008


When I bought my house, the backyard had obviously been badly neglected for many, many years. Every spring, the dandelions would crop up: more dandelions than grass in many places. I tried, somewhat half-heartedly, to put a dent in them, using a so-called "dandelion digger" and herbicides mainly. The herbicides didn't seem to do anything at all, likely because I didn't want (and couldn't afford) to use them in large quantities. Using a dandelion digger actually made it worse, as it left multiple pieces of root in the ground for each dandelion. I didn't know this at the time, unfortunately.

So last year I took a different tack. I got out a good, solid shovel, and just started digging in an area that I thought might be good for a garden. I dug and dug, and got all of the root at least 75% of the time. This spring, for the first time, I see a reduction in dandelions over an entire area. There are still plenty—more than I care to count—but that one area was largely clear. There is a downside, however. Digging in this manner also disrupts the grass. Now, in the garden area, that's fine. I'm thinking that I may as well cover the rest of it with black plastic and just start over, if that's what it's going to take to clear out the dandelions. They are quite pretty little flowers... but a bit too much like tribbles in some regards.

For the moment, I'm taking the "if it's near or in the garden, dig it" approach. Also if it's near or on the walkway I made last year, though I'm hoping vinegar will be sufficient to discourage them on the walkway itself. When I rototill the garden plot, hopefully tomorrow, I'll also dig up the area next to it and put weedmat on it, and keep prioritizing by nearness to the garden and walkway for digging. I already covered the area next to the elm tree in weedmat, partially because mowing there is such a ruddy pain, and it's rather refreshing to see a nice, empty spot. I ought to dig down a bit there and fill it in with bark or something over the weedmat...or maybe build a bench around the tree. That would be fun.

The interesting bit is all the stuff I've found back there whilst digging. Rocks, of course, and I pull them out for later use whenever I find them. Bits of trash that have gotten buried in the dirt. Old toys from residents of decades past. Lots and lots of charcoal; that might have come from the time this house caught fire due to Christmas lights shorting out, some years before I bought it. Broken glass. Most annoying, loads and loads of rusty spikes. They're generally 4-6 inches long, and about a foot down in the earth. It seems strange that there's so many of them, and they don't do the shovel a whole lot of good.

I think that's why the thought of digging up the whole back yard doesn't bother me all that much. I'm curious as to what else might be buried back there. Oh, I also found a paving stone that I put in, buried under about two inches of dirt and forgotten. As I'll likely use paving stones to hold the weedmat next to the garden down, I call that a nice score. And the kittens (now nearly cats) seem to like the dug-up areas better than the grassy ones; more places to hide, dig and play. ^/^

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