2014/04/14

Keep digging

Have you ever gone deep into a project only to realize the scope is much larger than you thought?

Insidious leafy thing (no idea what it is)
It's spring cleanup time in my gardens. I've been doing battle with dandelions, creeping buttercup, sprouts from maple and holly, and various nameless weeds, including that insidious leafy thing that spreads like wildfire. For some time, I had been eyeing a "nice to do" but not "need to do" project. Yesterday, I needed a break from weeding. It was a gorgeous day. I had time. So I went for it.

After the major renovation 11 years ago that included demolition of a derelict detached garage and construction of the deck and carport, what had been a combination of lawn and junk in the back yard was nothing but an uneven mess of dirt and rocks. I started the long process of rehabilitation to turn that mess into the native plant habitat it is today. One thing I had to deal with was water running off the lane and into the yard beyond the carport pad. I didn't know at the time that this was due to a clogged street drain. I tried to kill two birds with one stone: accommodate the runoff and make a place for an abundance of rocks. So I created a "water feature"—a little stream that ended in a tiny pond. I built a little footbridge (just a few planks bound together, nothing fancy at all) over it. I filled it with rocks. It looked nice. Even after the runoff was fixed, I figured it was OK to have a dry faux-stream. Sweetie called it the wadi, because it was mostly dry but occasionally caught some water.

Early garden picture -- with rocks
Over time, however, more and more soil made its way between the rocks. Weeds inserted themselves and were difficult to dig up. The feature was no longer a feature but really a bit of a mess. So I finally decided to rehabilitate it.

The project started fine. I removed the footbridge and started to dig out the stream again. I made a pile of the rocks I was digging up and moved recovered soil to a few beds that really need it. When I got toward the "pond," however, I started to realize something. I had forgotten just how much rock was in this thing, not to mention how big the tiny pond really was. One pile of rocks turned into two, and the two started to merge. So many of the rocks are tiny. I kept taking breaks from the hot sun, but by mid-afternoon I realized I'd hit the wall. No more digging that day. And there were more rocks to go.

Sometimes I wonder if I really should have done a massive soil replacement and maybe rented that Cat to regrade the place (would have been fun to drive). The slow rehabilitation has mostly been successful, but the quantity of rocks in this poor excuse for soil is staggering.

I should be able to finish digging today. Then I think I'll put only the largest rocks back into the waterless feature. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with all the small ones. Make a heap in a place where nothing grows anyway, I suppose. What does one do with masses of stones that are too small for anything useful?

2 comments:

Coline said...

Can you just send them to me? I need a lot of small stones for paths...

Véronique said...

Wish I could teleport them over there!