“We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.” – Barbara De Angelis

I’m slowly recovering from my landscape failure, and feel like I see light at the end of the tunnel.  The landscaping has been scheduled, I have my supplies to finish that area, and I even ventured into a few more projects!

Project 1 – New planting bed

For some reason, our driveway has a lot of weird grass areas around it, and last week I wrote about the stone we put under the fence behind it.  Well, I decided to turn the other strip into a planting bed.  Obviously because I love plants, but also because it is between our yard and the neighbor’s, and it would be nice to have a little privacy.  It is also an area that we look at frequently from our deck, so it would be nice to spruce it up.  And lucky for me it was only about 250 square feet!  Here is the “before” pic:IMG_2072

I started by digging out any turf that was close to the driveway, to install some edging.  I also got rid of any dead or high grass along the fencline.  I did not want to dig out all the turf, because that is back-breaking!  And I didn’t want to douse it with chemicals.  So I chose to do something called sheet mulching.  It involves laying overlapping cardboard or wet newspaper over the area, then putting mulch directly on top.  The lack of sun kills the grass, the roots stay in the ground to feed the microbes, and worms love newspaper and cardboard.  Here is my process in action:

Lucky for me, my gym gets regular deliveries of protein powder that come packaged in cardboard, so I got tons of free cardboard from them.  I also saved some bigger boxes I received my supplies for the other landscaping project in, and even stopped and picked some up from a neighbor’s house on trash day!  You have to remove all the tape, staples, etc. so it just pure cardboard.

The cardboard then needs to be “watered”, and you want it damp, not soaking.  This is where some frustration set in.  I ordered my compost and mulch to be delivered on Friday, after an overnight rain.  Unfortunately they couldn’t deliver it until Monday, and Saturday was a downpour.  So Friday I had to tarp the whole thing, so everything wouldn’t get saturated.  The compost and mulch didn’t come until Monday night (grrr), so Tuesday before work I was out untarping and checking the cardboard.  A few puddles, but overall not too bad.

I installed the edging the previous week, so all that was left to do was add the compost and mulch.  I chose to add compost too, as I hoped all the microbes that were happily chomping on the cardboard would be happier with continued chow.  I am guessing the soil is mostly clay (as is the rest of the yard), so anything I can do to get the critters working is a good thing.  I am now choosing the plants and designing the bed, but I won’t install them until towards the end of May.  Hopefully the cardboard will have broken down a bit by then, and I can just cut through it if need be to install the plants.  Here is the current state!

It will be really nice to have a focal point that adds privacy and is beautiful and beneficial to wildlife too.

Project 2 – “Wall” to block compost pile

I started collecting yard waste for a compost pile in the back area of our lot, but it was a bit unruly, and not aesthetically pleasing.  I originally thought I would paint a pallet and install it behind our log pile to block it, but then I had a truly creative idea (you know you are thriving when you can be creative!).  It was a riff off of another project we had planned to hold our logs and kindling for our fire pit made out of 2x4s and concrete blocks.  I came up with the idea to use 6 4-foot rebar poles and 3 bricks with holes in them to make a relatively narrow “basket” for the logs and branches.

I bought the poles at a local box store (about $2/each) and from the garage dug out the bricks I already knew I had.  I cleaned out the area behind the logs and put down some leftover weed barrier I had from the rock project.  The rebar poles pounded through the holes of the brick and ground easily, as the ground back there had leaves and such decomposing on it for a while.  I then proceeded to stack up the logs and branches, stomping through all the honeysuckle branches that were laying around.  Another successful project!

When the major landscaping project is done, we will build the log holder and get the logs off the ground.  I was quite pleased with how it all turned out.  I wasn’t so successful at moving a pile of topsoil that was tarped but got wet.  I could only drag it behind the pile – you can still see it peeking out far left in the first pic.  At least I had a brown tarp to replace the neon blue one that stuck out like a sore thumb!

To put the icing on the cake, I received a gift!   Well, I signed up for a monthly delivery on the new moon that I sort of forgot about.  Inside the box it contained all sorts of goodies–a plant (!), a stone, room spray, incense, a book, intention setting guidance, etc.  Check out the pictures below.

The company is called Lunarly, and I saw an ad for it on Facebook.  I see a lot of these “box of the month” ads, but this one caught my eye.  First, it included a house plant.  Second, it contained a stone.  Third, it was delivered around the new moon.  All of these things I hold dear, so it seemed like they were talking directly to me!  After the rough few weeks I had, this was a welcome surprise of self-care.

What does this all mean for you?

  1. Things will get better.  When you are in survival mode, all else fades away, and you feel like you it will be that way forever.  It won’t.  Gradually the fog will lift and the sun will shine.  Trust that the universe has your back.
  2. Regain your confidence by doing something you are good at and know you will succeed.  I have never sheet mulched, but I have installed edging and shoveled mulch.  I figured I could tackle that one small area with success.  I’m back in the saddle!
  3. Celebrate your success.  The “surprise” delivery felt like it was meant to happen just when I needed it.  Treat yourself to whatever makes you happy – an hour to read a book, a manicure, an ice cream cone.  You deserve it.

I may dabble in the yard with a little leaf clean up and mulch break-up (I got a new garden weasel to help me!), but no big projects for now.  A break is needed.  And I will celebrate the lawn work with a few craft beers and time with friends.  Cheers, and have a great weekend!

“You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.” –  Michelle Obama


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