Saturday, May 4, 2013

Yard Ambition

I may be a first-time homeowner, but this is not my first house.  Last year I lived in Lebanon, a very small rural area in Kentucky that is an hour away from my hometown, Lexington.  I rented a cute little ranch with a very big and hilly yard. 


I figured I would just hire out the grass cutting and yard work, completely na├»ve of how expensive that would actually become.  After paying my landlord a ridiculous amount for him to do a poor job of mowing, I finally caved and fired up my own lawnmower.

And I’ll be honest, it was hell.

Lebanon must be the center for every species of disgustingly huge bugs and spiders.  They would fly into my face and cling to my legs as I wrestled my mower up and down hills, past chain-link fences, and around ditches.  I had never seen a tick in my life until I found one on my hip in the shower after doing yard work one evening.  I felt like I was going to be sick.  I had great resentment toward doing yard work at my rental home.  So when I bought this house, I figured my feelings would be similar.

A few weeks ago, I finally started work on my post-WWI trenches front yard.  My attitude was poor as my mom and I planted grass seed where the ditches had been dug back in the winter. 

 
But then things started to change a week later when little fringes of green started to peek out of the dirt. 

 
This sweet little sign of life made me feel proud that I had been responsible for the renewal of my lawn, making me want to do more.  So I put down some mulch (something I was familiar with from my house in Lebanon), dug up the huge roots of old shrubbery (which caused me to completely break my shovel in half), and mowed the rest of my lawn.  Thankfully mowing is much easier here, as my yard is smaller and completely flat.




Then came the game changer: my mom bought me the most beautiful cherry tree.

 
Granted, I did not plant it myself, but I feel even more excited about my yard than ever.

 
Now I’m strategizing how I will complete the landscaping in the front of my house, compiling information about different types of shrubbery.  This will not come until the fall, but in the meantime, I’m so proud of how my yard is shaping up.

A few tips for my peers who have never done yard work before:
·         When mowing grass, I have found through trial and error that it creates much less of a mess if you mow around the yard twice with the grass blowing into the yard (clockwise), and then change directions (counterclockwise) to mow the rest.  That way you don’t blow grass all over your street and driveway, but you change directions in time to not cause grass clippings to clog your mower (believe me, it is not fun to try to unclog a mower).

·         If you need to plant grass, make sure you level the dirt first so it is even with the rest of the yard.  Use a rake to loosen up the dirt and then sprinkle it with fresh soil.  Sprinkle the grass seed generously over the entire area and then sprinkle more fresh soil over the seed.  Water liberally every day.  You should see the grass begin to grow within a week.

·         If you are mulching for the first time, go ahead and pull all of the weeds out of the area (use gloves and have a spatula on hand for the weeds with particularly strong roots).  Once you have done this, sprinkle Preen over the entire area. Do not skip this step!  If you don’t want to have to keep pulling weeds all summer, Preen is a must.  Then pour the mulch (I usually buy it in bags) into a mound in the area you wish to cover and smooth it out with a rake.  To get a perfectly smooth border, I use my hands (again, use gloves).
I plan to get started on my backyard as soon as we get a weekend that is not rainy.  I have many holes to fill (courtesy of Piper) and many weeds to pull.  Wish me luck!