How Does the Garden Grow

Monday, July 28, 2014
Our house was a foreclosure and sat vacant for about a year before we moved in. The yard was mowed but little else was done during that time. As soon as spring sprung, so did the weeds. Lots and lots of weeds.
Spring! My little helper carries plants for our window boxes and planters for the front porch.

Lovely flowers for the window boxes, aka "deer food".
We have over 4000 sq. ft. of landscaped beds. By May it looked as if our house was still in foreclosure. It was a mess.
Everything in spring was sprouting, except for this dead tree in our front yard. The only thing that was growing was the massive amount of thistle underneath it. We will have to have the tree removed and replant a new one this fall.

We solicited some bids from landscapers to weed and mulch. The proposals were shocking. Several thousands of dollars shocking, and that was only for the beds in the front of the house. They didn't even take the side bed or the three beds in the backyard into consideration.

So WE got to work. I ordered mulch---45 cubic yards which required four deliveries. We pulled weeds and laid paper landscape paper that biodegrades and laid mulch. I do not like the landscape fabric. I think it causes a bigger headache two to three seasons down the road and part of the reason the estimates to weed the beds were so high was because the previous homeowner laid down landscape fabric and the mulch biodegraded and the weeds grew into that and the fabric = MESS.

We did this whenever we had free time, which during race season is infrequent. Considering we also have three kids, we also had many interruptions.

The first delivery of mulch.

Cleared of weeds, ready for some plantings and then mulch.

Did I mention there were lots of weeds?

Second bed cleared of weeds, but not rocks, and ready for some new plants.

We tried to till the soil but these little suckers kept interrupting the process. Weeds and rocks, that's what we're growing.

Finished this part of the side landscape bed and found this deer lounging in the new mulch and pooping out more weeds.

A before. You can see the landscape paper and some mulch already done on the far right and the weeds on the far left. Our neighbor (whose house you can see in the background) would come out while I was weeding and say, "Wouldn't it just be easier to take the entire landscape bed out?".  

Matt and I managed to clear the front beds, the side bed by the garage and start on one of the beds in the backyard. But, with two remaining beds left, we called in help. We got a race friend from the track who landscapes to come and finish the job. What a relief.
Matt and I finished the landscape bed on the right which goes around the side of the house in the backyard, but I could see the weedy bed along the fence row. Ugh! Never ending.

This is the last two beds and we called in reinforcements.

Now, besides the regular weeding maintenance necessary, I get to turn my focus on the other battle---deer. We seem to be raising a herd of deer and they are laughing at those plants I bought that had "deer resistant" on the tag. I was told by a landscaper that since it was such a tough winter, the deer and other varmints are eating anything like mad, even the plants they typically wouldn't.

The other night, I woke up with Flash barking like mad. I thought there was an intruder and went downstairs to see what was upsetting him. He was looking out the window, barking and growling. It was a deer on our porch eating my geraniums in my window boxes. Caught red-handed (or red-mouthed). Like right at the window, "Hello!", making a late-night snack of my plants.

I didn't fight back the weeds to lose out to deer. WAR, I tell you.
Before our visit from the deer.

After the deer made a late night snack of my window box. Gone are the geraniums and petunias. 

Echinacea, supposedly deer don't like it. They liked this one. Oh, and that 'May Night' salvia everyone at the nursery tells you deer don't touch. Yea, our deer ate all four of those plants down to the ground. Gone.

They really liked my white Echinacea plant. They also really, really love caladiums. I have those in a pot by the barn. Let me rephrase, I HAD them in a pot by the barn. The deer mow them down, let them make a recovery and mow them down again.

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