Huge Changes

I’m learning that landscaping- even for yourself- is just like event coordination. There are many details to keep track of. Projects have to proceed in a specific order. Outside elements have to be coordinated with money, weather, and time allowances. With a small garden, coordinating all of these variants is easy since most projects can be completed in a day with a small budget and a trip to the garden center. In a regular car. Gardening on this scale is a totally different monster. Will the money, time, and resources all line up? In the right order? With enough help? Can I get delivery? Am I sticking to my principles? This was one of those magical weekends where (almost) everything lined up.

For those of you not in North Central Florida, it rained pretty much constantly last week, so Friday was the first day anyone could mow their well-watered and wildly overgrown lawns. The landscapers arrived Friday afternoon and immediately started mowing and weed-eating. That was amazing to watch, frankly. I have a big yard and it took 4 landscapers with a riding mower and 2 weed-whackers about 10 minutes to do the whole yard. It takes my boys an entire weekend!

There were three major goals for the landscapers. The large boulders had to be moved, as much of the gravel as possible raked up and moved, and that giant ugly podocarpus tree on the corner of the house removed. The big question was how to use the gravel. I didn’t want it hauled away. Mrs. Boothby (the woman who built & loved this house) paid a lot of money for all of that gravel to be put down, and it would be expensive to replace. The most obvious use was as a new under layer for the brick patio in the back, but we don’t have the money or resources lined up to complete that project. I kept walking around the house, trying to figure out either a place to store the gravel or a way to put it into use immediately. And I found it! The landscapers weed-whacked out the weed-infested area around the air conditioning unit, I laid down landscaping fabric pulled up from elsewhere in the yard, and they dumped the gravel on the landscape fabric. They raked up and moved about a 2″ depth in a 5’x20′ area, enough that I feel confident that trees will grow through the remaining shallow layer after it’s been sheet-mulched.

Big boulders are big, but they eventually found a way to move them. The boulders were moved to the back yard, where eventually they’ll be used as a waterfall for the pond. They have huge pits and depressions in them like all coquina rocks, and we’re already gathering epiphytes and ferns to plant in the holes.

Last to go was the podocarpus. Gary, the boss man, decided to dig out the root ball, chop off the top half of the tree, and take it with him to try and transplant it in his own yard. The bottom half was 7′ tall. When I saw the top half on the ground and the huge hole, I had an epiphany. The underlying principle of this whole project day was no wasted resources. I keep paying money to haul in organic material to add to the soil, and here was a gigantic pile of it. I had the guys cut up the remaining branches with a chainsaw and dump them in the hole. Then I added 50# of green horse manure and some punky logs and had the guys fill in the rest of the hole with the loose soil piled up from the digging. Eventually those branches will decompose, adding much-needed organic matter, and the fungus in the punky logs and the horse manure will boost the decomposition process.

Doesn’t it look different? The change is just amazing. If you’re local, One Source Landscaping was awesome. The guys were all friendly, the boss man was absolutely open to all my weird requests, and they worked really hard. Hiring help for the heavy work was absolutely the right thing to do. I can’t wait to finish the sheet mulching and start planting trees!

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