Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Overgrown weeds and payback

Maintaining a backyard is way harder than I had originally imagined. I had no idea that all those gorgeous yards that I’d seen all my life took so much work. Makes me have a real appreciation for gardeners.

First off, we moved here at the end of winter. Everything was crusty and/or hibernating. I had no idea what we were working with, so I left it all alone. Then it got warmer. And greener. And since I have never had a yard, I didn’t know what was plants and what was weeds or whether I needed to be putting some sort of solution on the ground. It was all green so I left it all alone. Then it started getting really overgrown. Like I couldn’t see the kids anymore when they were in the yard. (Well, not that bad, but nearly.) Ben got a lawnmower, put it together and mowed our front lawn. No longer could our neighbors’ yards harass our poor, neglected yard. I can tell that our yard likes us a lot more now.

Secondly, because I had left all the weeds alone, they took over. I went out there one afternoon and dug up dead plants and tried to uproot the weeds. I was out there for a good 5 hours straight and barely made a dent. When I say taken over, I mean it. The roots were so strong that regardless of what I did do to the small amount of ground I was able to cover, it didn’t really matter. They were just going to grow back. So I bought some weed killer for the types of weeds we have and sprayed it everywhere I could see weeds. The next day we woke up to the sight of bent over dandelions, dried up crabgrass and wilted clover. Niiice. But if you look in our backyard, it still looks like poop because we haven’t yet mowed out there. There’s a padlock on the fence leading from the front yard to the back, and the people who we’re renting from don’t have the key. Ben’s going to try to get some bolt cutters today, so we can get our lawnmower out there and make a real difference. Then I’ll be able to see what weeds I killed and which ones I missed. What a chore! I’m hoping that once I train my yard to do what I want, that keeping it that way will be much easier.

Another thing the kids don’t particularly like is all the bugs. I have told them that when they play outside, they are playing in the bugs’ world, that that’s where God made them to live. So if they want to play outside, they’re going to have to deal with ants and rollie-polies and spiders and flies.

I changed my ‘live and let live’ approach to bugs the other day though when I lifted our patio umbrella so that we could have lunch under it, and a wasp flew out. He had built himself a little nest in there. So this morning, I did battle (and won) with what turned out to be a yellow jacket. Without opening the umbrella, I took a bat to it in several places where I thought the house might be. Poor thing fell out, stunned and slightly wounded. I wasn't ok with slightly wounded, and I kept hearing Sensei Kreese's voice from the Karate Kid yelling "Finish HIM!", so I did.

I felt like a stud until I realized that I'd blindsided a silly insect with the kid's baseball bat. Now I'm just a mean 'ol bully. But I will defend my turf. Let that be a lesson!

I had volunteered to defeat the wasp instead of Ben because I knew I wasn’t allergic to wasp stings. Last year I was stung by a wasp in church. A wasp had flown into the sanctuary, and I noticed it just as the pastor said “Let us pray.” We all had our eyes closed and our heads bowed. The only sound in the whole room was a barely audible prayer being whispered through the PA system. Then all of a sudden, I feel a sting on my arm and yell, “AAAAACCCCKKKK!” Yeah, that woke ‘em up. I looked down and saw a weakened wasp waddling away and a little red welt on my forearm. Little booger. This little wasp in our backyard didn’t have a chance. I was ready for payback.

If any of you readers out there know anything that could make this easier for me, please do share. Point me to a website or book or something that I could turn to for resources. I’m such a beginner at this, but I have these grandiose plans for my future yard and am using this rent-a-yard to experiment and learn. I’m willing to try all kinds of things here. I love working in my yard, but I don’t want to feel like a hamster spinning in his wheel. I’d like my work to get me somewhere.

Happy Spring!

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