Before And After

We’ve been working on the lower yard this week. It was totally overgrown, with weeds that were knee high in some spots and a bunch of spindly chokecherry trees blocking the visibility of the huge granite outcroppings and the nifty birch tree growing out of a crack in the rocks.

We wanted to see what the yard looked like with the overgrowth cut back and the chokecherries chopped down. Fortunately, Russell is skilled with a weedwhacker — a great invention if there ever was one — and I can manage a saw and clippers. Together we tackled the jungle-like growth, and after a few days of cutting, sawing, clipping, and raking we cleared away the underbrush and ended up with a lower yard that is neater, cleaner, and (in my view, at least) a lot more visually appealing. The before picture is above, and the after picture is below.

Incidentally, yard work like this also makes you feel like you’ve really earned that cold beer at the end of the day.

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Weed Warrior

Yesterday, I just couldn’t take it anymore.  Ouchy back and all, I got down on my hands and knees to weed the front yard.

I don’t know if it was caused by our warmer than normal winter, or if our grass is just getting wearing out, or if our lawn care service changed the spraying schedule and deferred the weed killer application, but this spring we have been beset by a grotesque plague of weeds.  Dandelions, clover, and other ugly looking plants had sprung up everywhere, ruining the uniform, velvety green carpet all homeowners aspire to and making our yard look like a patchwork quilt of unsightliness.  It was offensive to look at, and I didn’t want the neighbors to think that we were letting our yard go to seed.

So I went out on weed patrol, with my paper bag and my weed control tools.  I know spraying is effective, but I think it’s best to get down close to the spot, get some dirt under your fingernails, and dig the weeds out roots and all.  I use some spoon-sized shovels to get under the weeds and work them out of the ground; dandelions, for example, come out with a satisfying pop.  And, because I’m using small shovel, the yard doesn’t end up looking like I’ve got a gopher problem.

I worked on the front and side yards for a few hours yesterday and left them looking moderately presentable.  Neighborhood pride is a powerful motivator.

A Yard Work Saturday

We’ve reached the point in the summer where all of the fruits of your spring yard work have begun to, well, rot.  Those loathsome weeds have once again invaded your flower beds.  Your shrubs have sprouted stray shoots that make them look as unkempt as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  Your brickwork looks more like weedwork.

Today I decided to tackle those problems.  It was a brilliantly sunny, hot summer day.  I began by trimming the shrubs and the fast-growing bushes that the neighbors planted to screen their house from ours.  Those plants grow at a ridiculous rate and have virtually made it impossible to grow anything in our side yard, so I cut them back.  It felt good to use the clipper and, after some liberal pruning, to see the sunshine once again reaching our hostas.  Then it was on to weeding and watering the beds — nothing like reliving a bit of your childhood and drinking cold water straight from the hose on a hot day! — and finally to the brickwork on the patio and the front walkway.

Some people would hate to waste a beautiful summer day on yard work, but I find it immensely satisfying.  For those of us whose jobs often do not involve clear cut success or immediate congratulations on a job well done, yard work allows you to have a sense of prompt accomplishment.  You begin with a weedy, somewhat overgrown yard and you end with neat, tidy grounds, well manicured flower beds, dirt-stained hands, and a budding farmer’s tan.  After a yard work Saturday, a cold beer sure tastes good.