A transplanted Southern Californian living in North Dakota Idaho, with some insights on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

10 Yards of Black Dirt

We're in the process of redesigning the front yard a bit, replacing lawn area with flower beds and perennial shrubs.  This will mean not only less area for me to mow all Summer (Yay!!!) but also more pretty flowers to look at, and to attract birds, butterflies and beneficial insects to the yard.

I'm a big believer in working smarter, not harder.  At times I do take this to the extreme by not working at all, thus ensuring that there is never even a threat working harder.  This however is a philosophical discussion for another day.  

Part of working smarter means that I'm not going to break out the shovel and dig out all that lawn or turn it over by hand unless I absolutely need to.  Instead I'm quite fond of using some serious mulching to break down the lawn over time.  This is the so called "lasagna mulching" technique, laying down newspaper or cardboard and then covering it with a hefty layer of dirt and/or mulch.  You plant stuff into the dirt/mulch on top and over time the grass underneath dies and turns to happy organic matter that will add nutrients to the soil.  I've used this method before and will use it now to create some mounds in the front yard and turn ugly work-intensive lawn into flowering perennials and annuals. 

To this end we had 10 yards of dirt delivered to the house earlier this week.  It was an impressive full sized dump truck and dropped an impressive sized pile of black dirt on the lawn. Perfect.
When I told him where to dump the dirt the driver looked at me quizzically and and said "You know this is gonna really rut up your lawn, right?"  And he was right, this was a big ass truck and it did put big tire ruts in the lawn.  However I didn't mind at all since getting rid of the lawn is the one of the core motives behind this operation.
It was a whole lot of dirt.  This was another one of those situations where I may have gotten a wee bit too ambitious and my gardening eyes were bigger than my gardening stomach. 
Yeah, that's a whole lot of dirt.

The pile was six foot high and ten or twelve feet in diameter.  I may be occasionally envious of people who live in warmer environments and feel pangs of longing for my old Zone 10 climate in Southern California, but now is my chance to make other gardeners envious.  Take a look at the good dirt.  They just call it "black dirt" and it's sold as such.  It is good stuff.  
I started moving the dirt to the area underneath the pine tree in the front yard, placing a barrier of newspaper on top of the grass to kill the lawn below.  This should prevent grass coming up through the flower beds.
This is how the raised dirt bed looked.  I've made some additional changes since and will have more pictures up in another few days. And even better pictures later this summer when the area is fully planted and blooming. 

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