The Mulch Gymnasium

My yard looked like hell. Not surprising considering I have spent the last four years riding a bike 40,000 miles. So with cool weather and, until recently, uncertainty about doing anything involving humans, I decided to spruce things up a bit.

My first project involved repainting a metal stoop. Next up was reworking some landscaping timbers that had been undermined by a massive tree root. After much deliberation, I raised the timbers to avoid cutting the root. The tree owes me one.

A tree company came and took down some trees and ground the stumps. Stump grinding results in a big pile of useless mulch mixed with dirt. I did my best to separate the shredded wood from the dirt and redistributed the shredded wood as mulch in the perimeter garden in the back yard. This project also involved digging up and chopping (of course) some roots from previous tree work. If you take roots out of the soil there is nothing to hold the dirt in place and it becomes a quagmire.

The timbers that I worked on were part of series of six steps that cascade through a garden on the side of the house. The steps are filled with pine nugget mulch. The mulch hadn’t been changed in a few years so I dug it out and replaced it with fresh mulch. As with the stump mulch, I distributed the old mulch in the perimeter garden.

The perimeter garden had once been separated from the lawn by brick pavers. These had been absorbed by the lawn years ago allowing the garden to be overrun with grass and weeds. I dug up about four dozen pavers and manually edged the garden. This created some left over dirt which I put in the stump holes and the tree root quagmire. I later augmented this fill dirt with several 40-pound bags of topsoil.

The final step was to spread dozens of bags of mini pine nuggets on the perimeter garden. On part of the garden I simply buried the invasive turf grass and weeds. On the rest I scraped all the undesired vegetation out of the garden. Ill be interesting to see if the extra work was worthwhile. Finally, I spread the mulch.

All this work took me about a month. At the start of the project I learned that my local hardware store stopped delivering mulch so I had to make multiple runs to the big box hardware store. Seeing as how my car’s trunk holds about eight bags of mulch, this process added several hours. I also have back issues so I made sure not to work more than 2 1/2 hours per day. Finally, rain caused me to skip entire days. I can’t complain because the weather was cool.

The end result looks pretty decent.

Who needs a gym, anyway?

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