Monday, August 10, 2009

In Progress

It's been exactly two weeks since we've been in our new home and I have to admit that I'm a bit disappointed that the garden hasn't progressed as much as I'd hope it would. With a new home to get in order, a toddler running around and a longer work commute to contend with, it doesn't leave much time in the day to carry out one's hobbies. Oh well, I guess some things in life move at their own speed and you just have to run with it. I have to remind myself that the joy of gardening is as much about the process as it is about the end result. That being said, here is the progress I've made so far.

old garden
Soon after we moved in, I began dismantling the prior owner's old garden. I had initially wanted to save myself some time and energy by expanding upon it, but in the end, I decided to find a new spot for my garden. The major con in doing so is that the new spot (along the side of our yard) gets a bit less sun than the old one. However, the major downside in keeping the garden where it currently is (smack dab in the middle of the yard) is that it effectively cuts our lawn in half, and eventually, the backside becomes under-utilized. Although I've never been a major fan of large grass lawns period, I can see how a long continuous one would someday appeal to my son. Finally, I think the new spot will add better overall visual appeal to the yard.

Side Yard
A few days after we moved in, I began clearing out about 150 sq feet of overgrown brush on the right side of our yard. So far, I've filled 18 30-gallon lawn bags with branch clippings and leaves, not to mention the HUGE pile of trunks and thick branches that we've accumulated. I'm starting to realize that clearing brush and trimming trees is the easy part; it's the clean up that's the big headache! It took me the better part of a week to get this cleared out and cleaned up.

Once the side of the yard was cleared, I made a visit to Home Depot this past weekend to rent a rototiller, which ended up being one of those life lessons experiences. I won't bore you with the details but here is what I've learned from my experience:

1) Rent a machine that is up to your particular task. In my situation, I had to clear about 600 sq feet of well established (VERY THICK) lawn. I foolishly rented the smallest machine available at Home Depot simply because it was the only one that would fit (barely) in the back seat of my Nissan Maxima. (I was starting to see the appeal in owning a big gas-guzzling pickup truck...well almost.) Needless to say, the machine was barely powerful enough to crack the surface of the lawn and ended up being more trouble than it was worth.

2) Before rototilling, make sure you mow the area to the shortest length possible and rake up the grass clippings. I rototilled on lawn that hadn't been mowed in over week and end up with 600 sq feet of clumpy soil densely matted with grass. And the recent rains didn't help either. I suppose if I had gotten a more powerful machine, this wouldn't have been an issue, but alas, I didn't. The best I can hope for now is that this mass (and mess) of dying grass/soil starts to break down quickly and hand turn any areas of new grass that might develop.

3) Do a bit more research on what's available in your area. After I returned the thing to Home Depot and explained to the sales clerk my problems, he confirmed that I should have rented a much more powerful (and heavy) machine (one that requires ramps to load it onto a pickup). He also mentioned that although Home Depot didn't deliver, there was a tool rental shop located the next town over from us that did for a reasonable fee. Now I know.

Side Yard 2
So after several days of clearing and four grueling passes with the darn rototiller, this is what I ended up with. It's amazing how much more of the yard we are able to utilize now. We can also see the stone barrier that had been hidden underneath the brush. One of my many future projects is to continue weeding and repairing the stone wall and to plant a small shade garden to the right of the raised beds (more on them later). Sorry this post is so long! Shorter next time...promise.


  1. ~not sure if they available there or not but Lowes rents flatbeds trucks as well as vans by the hour for about 20 bucks. ~ not sure if home depot does that either

  2. Wow, it is looking like a garden already! We are fortunate to have access to small equipment (skid steers etc.) for weekend rentals, but that kind of stuff tears up the lawn you want to keep too. It's never easy is it,lol?

  3. Loving the moon calendar in the sidebar!

  4. orchid145 - thanks for the tip! I'll have check that out.

    Kelly - Indeed it is never easy...and my aching arms are proof positive of that!