Friday, June 27, 2014

Near Death by Yard Work

The dog really enjoys the yard work

In the June 12 post I mentioned my wife’s attempt to kill me with yard work. So far, it hasn’t worked.

The plan to use newspaper and mulch as a control measure against weeds in the back yard’s raised beds seemed a bit far-fetched to me, but Mrs. Poynor had been saving newspapers for months so we decided to at least give it a shot. First, however, we needed to stockpile enough mulch to cover the newspaper as it was laid down. 

“How much mulch do you suppose we need to cover the beds?” I knew she had a plan, and had seen her studying bags of mulch and crunching numbers on her phone during the last trip to Home Depot.

“I’ve run the numbers,” she replied seriously, “and based on the coverage listed on the mulch we should get thirty bags. And we should get all we need right away, before it sells out.” 

I imagined going to Home Depot and being turned away. “Sorry mister, we had us a regular mulch rush. Cleaned us right out. Why, them mulch bags was selling like hotcakes.

We needed mulch... lots of mulch

As ludicrous as it seemed to me, we rushed right out and bought thirty bags of mulch. Not just any old mulch, either. It was finely ground and dyed, which meant the mulch was wet, which meant handling them was equivalent to picking up an obese sheep.

In short order thirty bags of mulch were grunted into the truck, hauled home, and then dragged into the back yard whereupon they quickly disappeared. Calculations be damned! Slightly less than half the raised beds were covered. For the next two weeks all our shopping lists were on the order of, “milk, bread, lunch meat, mulch.” 

Mrs. Poynor’s mulch shortage paranoia was ultimately proven to be founded. One day  not a bag of mulch was to be seen; at least not the kind we had been using. There was a “premium” mulch that was close in color, but came at a premium price. I can’t say this with 100% certainty as I haven’t actually worked the numbers, but I would guess hiring a full-time gardener just to pluck weeds would be considerably cheaper than buying the premium mulch. We settled for a “way less than premium” mulch to finish things up.

Cool! A two-tone mulch job!

Mrs. Poynor saw the mix and match mulch as a failure, and I felt compelled to comfort her before she had second thoughts and we ran back for the premium stuff. “Do you realize how much extra people pay for two-tone paint jobs on cars? We just got a two-tone upgrade on the garden and actually saved money! We’ll put it toward paying for the excavator. I’ll go call the rental place.”

It took all the self-control I could muster when the rental place delivered the excavator. I calmly walked out, greeted the driver, listened attentively to his operating instructions, signed on the dotted line, then squealed like a little girl as he drove off. Those spiraea and fitzer bushes would never know what hit them! 

Death to the spiraea!

After untold hours of whacking, chopping and pulling to control the spread of spiraea over the previous two years, the excavator laid waste to them in one day. It was almost anti-climatic. Even more so since all the trips to the landfill to dispose of the roots took more time than excavator action.

On the third pickup load to the landfill the guy at the weigh station had to ask, “What’re you folks gettin’ rid of?”

Way too much fun.
“We’re digging up spiraea from in front of our house.”

“Spiraea? What in hell did you plant that for?” 

“We didn’t,” I replied, “the previous owner did.”

The weigh station attendant eyed me closely and a crooked grin appeared on his lips as he snarled. “Sure. Well, now you know better. Not sure we want that stuff here, but guess it’s too late to turn you away.” 

With the back yard mulched and the disposal of the spiraea and fitzer bushes complete, my manly chores were done, or so I thought.

“We can start extending the retaining wall tomorrow,” Mrs. Poynor said just as I headed inside for a much-deserved fermented adult beverage. 

I froze. “What retaining wall?”

“Where we’re going to widen the path around the house.” 

“We’re gonna what?

“I explained all this, remember? You were babbling and drooling about getting the excavator and I said it would be perfect for digging out the trench for setting the base on the retaining wall extension. Does any of this sound at all familiar? I hope so, five yards of crushed gravel is on the way.” 

I’m sure the excavator would have been perfect for trenching the base of the wall… had Mrs. Poynor not wanted a curve in the wall. It was shovel time. Fortunately, it was only twenty-something feet and two layers of stone. The gravel was another story. The gravel was dumped out of the way so it wouldn’t block access to the garage, which necessitated hauling it by garden cart to its final location. (Did I ever mention I have a bad back? No? Probably because I didn’t.) Two days later, the wall was complete, the gravel spread and the stripped flower bed ready for planting.

Not enough mulch.

I stepped back to admire the results. “Not too bad,” I observed. “What do you think?”

“We need some more mulch.”