How many injuries does it take to plant a small area in your backyard? If you live here at Old Town Home, the answer is three. Yeah, seriously. Three. If you thought we were kidding when we say we're not talented when it comes to gardening, we may have you convinced otherwise by the time you finish reading this post.
In the back corner of our yard, behind the big old tree, sits a small raised bed. Here's a look at it just two weeks after we bought our house.
This area, set off by an old, cracked raised brick border, is a veritable wasteland. I mean that literally as that's where Lulu goes to do her business. In addition to "watering" the area with dog urine, the area sees little sun and the soil is infiltrated with a tangle of tree roots, poor soil, and aggressive ivy, making it nearly impossible to sustain plant life. Icky? You bet.
Over the years we've planted and replanted the area, spending hundreds of dollars and countless hours in vain. Here's how lovely it's looked in the past...promptly before it all withered and died.
Though we've tried and failed in the past, we're still willing to give it another try...as long as it didn't cost us a lot of money. This time around we spent less than $20 dollars for two bags of mulch and one bag of miracle grow soil. Thanks to my parents who have a surplus of growth from their yard, the plants were largely free! In town for a recent visit, they brought us a hosta, lily of the valley, ferns, and a few lilies. Rounding it out with some ajuga we purchased for the front bed but opted not to use, we were good to go.
Our first order of business was to break up the firmly knotted roots, knowing that if we didn't improve the soil these new plants didn't stand a chance. Though the roots will surely grow back, this will at least give the plants a chance at establishing their area. Alex broke out the trusty cutter mattock and got to work.
Sweating and swearing, the hard work quickly resulted in some nasty blisters on his hands since he didn't want to take the time to go to the basement for his proper gloves, so that's on him. As effective as the cutter mattock is as a root bustin' tool, this kind of garden work just stinks.
Just when I thought he was miserable enough, things went from bad to worse. While working to diligently break up the roots, Alex had...shall we say...a direct hit. After hooking a root and pulling up, the root unexpectedly let loose and the butt of the handle connected squarely with his man parts. Unfortunately, the handle of the cutter mattock determined right then and there that we were just about done with the gardening project that night.
Sorry fellas. I know you're probably not going to award me a "wife of the year award" for photographing my husband in his moment of agony, but in the interest of full disclosure I felt the moment needed to be documented, and I think this photo does a pretty decent job at capturing his anguish. Plus, I'll be honest, it was a little entertaining for Lulu and me. Mel didn't agree.
A few days later, following his recovery (ok, I'm being a little dramatic, he wasn't horribly injured and we did a bit more work that evening, this was actually just the first chance we had to devote time to finishing the project), we set back out to finish the planting. We had removed the roots and were ready to move on to adding better soil, determining plan location, and fixing the broken soaker hose.
First we sprinkled a bag of Miracle Grow soil, mixing it in to improve the existing soil quality. Next, we laid out the plants, making adjustments along the way, in order to determine final placement.
After the plants were in the ground, Alex replaced the old busted soaker hose with a new one, and laid it among the plants for the best coverage.
Woo hoo! We were moving along, and all that was left was to lay down mulch between the plants and to conceal the hose. Until disaster struck again. As Alex was moving a large bag of mulch closer to the bed, he claims he tripped over a brick, which sent him sailing into a large branch of the tree. In the match of Alex's cranium v. tree branch, the branch clearly won out.
Okay, yet again, not winning any wife-of-the-year awards for pulling out the iPhone for a quick photo rather than the first aid kit, but after a rest in the chair, he passed my quick concussion test, "What's your name? Can you see my finger? Can you dump this mulch around the flowers without passing out?" he was back to his old self. (Does this man really hate gardening so much that he'll injure himself to get out of it?)
While he recovered, I took over spreading the mulch. It was quick work, and the finished results left us both happy with our efforts.
No question, hands down my favorite part of this space is the fat little buddha that watches over the back yard. He was a birthday gift from my mom a few years back, and every time I look at him he makes me smile.
Given our past track record and Lulu's potty and squirrel chasing habits in this space, we're not too optimistic that the plants will make it. But even if our sweet little garden meets the same fate as previous years, we'll try to enjoy the lush greenery while it lasts. Our DIY skills clearly reside with interior work, but I hope you'll give us kudos for trying. Especially Alex, who apparently risks life and limb to create an outdoor sanctuary that our family will enjoy all summer long.
Did you tackle any outdoor projects this weekend? Does anyone else have any scars or scrapes you're wearing as a badge of honor to show for your DIY efforts? Any other guys out there have a DIY mishap to your nether-region that left you speechless? Let us laugh along with you as you share your story.