The Perils of Gardening

house with weeds in front of it
Image 1.1. This is my house.   .
This is a story about my flowerbed project. Having come in from today's gardening, I feel as though people are unaware of why I hate landscape fabric so much and the righteousness of my cause, so today I have a post (with photos!) to justify my wrath. But first, let's have some introductory photos to illustrate the problem.

So, in our first image, we have my house, as viewed from the driveway (and largely also from the road headed east about 50 feet to the right of this view (roughly). This was once a roughly grand-piano shaped flowerbed. It is now a weed patch that overwhelms my ability to make it not weedy through normal means. This year I found out  why that is -- the top 3-5 inches of dirt are not dirt, but roots, and they are almost exclusively roots because there is a layer of landscape fabric below that, meaning that only hardy, shallow-rooted weeds can live there, but they're almost impossible to get rid of by hand once they are.

Image 1.2. This is the view of my house from the porch, looking toward the driveway. 
Image 1.3. This is landscape fabric.
This is what it looks like facing out from my porch. A bit better, but not that much so. Perspective helps -- it's a downhill slope to the drive, you see. As you can observe, close to the camera there is brown, not green. This is where the work is happening. I have to get from the porch all the way down to the drive. I cannot simply plant things, however, because the landscape fabric prevents me from doing so.

Image 1.4. This is the section of the garden I've cleared of weeds.
To that end, rather than struggling fruitlessly with it for years to come, I've decided to just dig up all the damn landscape fabric, since I can largely just pull up all the matted soil and move it, pulling up the fabric underneath, then putting down dirt and mulch to prevent the weeds from taking it back over again. I'm not planting anything this year because I think this is all I can conceivably finish over the summer, even with the arrival of my minions in July.

As you can see, this is what I've cleared so far -- roughly half the length of this strip still has fabric under it because I'm still trying to find the edges. The kneepad is in the middle of the hole I just started clearing to make sure the area there was fabric'd, as I'd lost the fabric portion about two feet south (toward the end of the porch). If it seems like it's going slowly, you're right.

Image 1.5. Freaking tree roots.
Part of the reason for everything going slowly is shown here, in image 1.5. You see, it's not just matted baby roots or plant roots on top of the landscape fabric. It's tree roots that have grown across but been unable to burrow deeper, like they should have. I'm pulling out and tugging on roots that have no inclination to move anywhere, but have to if I'm going to get the freaking stuff out from the dirt. I placed the kneepad under the root so you could see it better. Also, that's my shadow taking the picture. Hi, shadow! On top of that, I found potting soil today ON TOP of the landscape fabric. AAAAARRRGGGHHH. Poor plants. They had no chance.

Image 1.6. Mulch.
Image 1.7. Silly dog.
 A shovel can't get through the roots or the fabric, so it's a matter of pulling all the matted roots up by hand, then pulling up the landscape fabric, then putting dirt back in the trench I've now dug, then putting down at least 2 inches of mulch to keep it from growing stuff I don't want. These are my bags of mulch. It's maybe half of what I need, maybe less. Also, the dogs think it might be something like dog bubblegum, a result I had not forseen. Sigh. Silly dogs.

With all of that, perhaps it is now clearer why I curse the makers and buriers of landscape fabric, whether under dirt or mulch, because eventually mulch turns into dirt and then you have this situation.

On the upside, though, apparently heavy gardening is excellent strength training.

Silly dog. 


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