Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Reclaiming It Inch By Inch

I've been very engrossed in my yard and garden since Winter/early Spring when we've had some areas cleared out. I finally feel I can make a difference in the jungle that tries to creep up and swallow everything.

I've been using my FlyLady techniques of working in small increments of time, and it's made a huge difference. Every week, I spend, say, five minutes weeding around the edge of the driveway, ten minutes weeding and picking up branches, another 15 cutting up old brush or pruning the next shrub in line or reviving the plantings around the patio, or whatever area I'm focusing on.

I and my husband both have been astounded/delighted at the the changes. Those little bits here and there are piling up into significant change, and my vision for the space is taking shape. So it's no wonder that every day and every week, I'm eager to go out and make more progress.

Yesterday I:
Spent about four hours working.
Filled our yard waster container plus three extra bags with vines and debris.
Weeded more ivy back beside the driveway.
Weeded more ivy back near the fence.
Took down some dried vines from a tree.
Weeded around an old fence fragment in prep for it being dismantled.
Cut large vine roots and yanked up as much as I could.
Weed-whacked around the fig trees and the back fence.
Yanked more vines and ivy from around some existing daffodils and day lilies.
Inspected the volunteer plum that has real green fruit starting.
Threw out random pieces of archeological trash.
And cleared space to dig a hole in prep for one of the new hydrangeas.

Among other things.

In the front yard, I've enacted numerous small jobs over several weeks, such as:
Transplanted the daffodils that are in the wrong place, and replanted them with the others, and dividing them while I was at it.
Planted some small bulb iris out near the street where they'll look pretty for passer-byers.
Planted bulb iris in some of the front gardens to fill in gaps.
Raked and reseeded swaths of the front yard.
Added mulch around the sugarberry/hackberry tree.
Yanked out small springs of poison ivy.
Planted a couple bunches of Purple Tongue plant.
Weeded around the front gardens.
Added more compost to the front vegetable gardens, and planted various tomatoes (heirloom, plum, cherry) and herbs (lemon verbena, thyme, basil, lavender) and some marigolds near the tomatoes.
Planted more lavender in the porch garden.
Planted snapdragons for annual color.
Started to prune the Japanese maple that are started to gangle all over the front beds like lanky adolescents.
Mulch, mulch, mulched.

And that's not even considering the side yard!

But in the backyard, I'm really getting going.

I've been plotting out the space for new fruit trees (slowly replenishing the yard from its early years), ripping up ivy or other vines from its forays into relatively pristine lawn, and getting ready to put in some raised beds for new vegetable gardens.

The raised beds will run parallel to but five feet away from the side fence that we share with our neighbors. It's in one of the few still sunny areas on our property, so I'm excited about making attractive use of it with both vegetables and flower plantings.

In a related area, I'll add on to existing flower plantings to create a more substantial visual point. In another area of the side yard, I'm going to add some attractive flowering shrubbery to make visual peace with our neighbors - I know they are tired of looking at our junky side yard, and we could use more pretty screening greenery. I might mulch along the fence line or not. I certainly want to reseed the lawn in the areas previously covered by the huge bales of honeysuckle, grapevine, and other vines.

Our neighbors have been undertaking their own progression. They've started a terraced patio behind their house, had a beautiful fence put up along the back of the property, killed off their entire backyard lawn with R0undup and just this week, reseeded. Makes my wincing use of herbicide look rather puny, huh?

And of course, all this fervent activity is not without its side results. Every other workday, I pull a tick or two off of myself. I get bitten, scratched, sprayed with dirt from recaltrient roots, and end up with twigs and inchwords in my hair if I'm ducking under branches. Various chiggers take up residence under my clothes, and I come in with too much sun, or itchy reactions on my face or arms. Oo, and I have an allergic reaction to poison ivy. Yes, it's official now. I have prescriptions, yo.

But I'm also getting a terrific workout! I pull, I sweat, I drag and hack. My upper body especially enjoys this, but my legs get into the act too. Today, I'm stiff all over from my four hours of sustained work. Oh, and I am able to fit into some of my pre-pregnancy jeans now. Also, my bicepts have apparently been replaced by painful rocks. That's all thanks to all my ivy-pulling.

It reminds me of backpacking; even when one is tired, one keeps going and going and going at a slow but manageable yet steady pace. And at the end of this sweatiness, I've cleared more space, or neatened another patch of ground, or spruced up another overgrown shrub. You know that song "inch by inch"? I'm living it. Another few inches, another section of ground looking happier.

Can't wait to build those beds and put in some Summer vegetables. Can't wait for it to start looking like a proper happy yard again.