Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Yard Combat

I’ve come to think of our yard as a laboratory.  More than a garden, it’s literally a field for experimentation.  We started with sticky, clay back-fill and tried to prove we could grow anything. Big, sort-of expensive, mistake. We added truckloads of leaf mulch, lime, and corn gluten. We removed large swaths of grass (really just crabgrass). We installed raised beds and created  rooms. After five years, parts of the yard look decent.  

While we focused on the livable space around the house, the back forty took on a life of its own, taunting us with poison ivy, spiky brambles, and who knows what else. It was a breeding ground for ticks and the food chain that extends from them, including other insects, frogs and toads, and woodpeckers. It was a self-sustaining habitat, not pretty, but not all bad. An area like this can easily extend itself, though. It became difficult to keep children away from the poison ivy, and vice versa. Ticks and people don’t mix well. We decided to tackle it. 

Until this year, we’d taken a chemical-free approach. At first, I thought we could remove everything organically by pulling and clearing the weeds in winter, when everything died back. The short story is that we couldn’t. Poison ivy never sleeps. Weed seeds can lie dormant for decades. Removing the top layer of debris exposes seeds to light, air, and moisture. They germinate with a vengeance. So, we sprayed. We spread a pre-emergent, Preen, to stymy the seeds. Then we sprayed again and again with a concentrated form of glyphosate (Round-up). We smothered the area with mulch, but the brambles and ivy found their way back to the surface.  We are now laying cardboard over the area, and adding more mulch. It’s not pretty, but it’s getting there. We’ll need to take the ivy off the wall in order to stop it from spreading across the ground. We’ll cut it at the base and spray the root with Round-up.  

This may explain why I have not had time to blog lately. Ultimately, our goal is to restore the habitat with native plants that support native wildlife.  

Our Friends:

No comments:

Post a Comment