In mid-summer, after a couple of hard rains have passed through, when you’ve spent a weekend or two off wandering the mountains and not in your back yard, you’ll notice that things may have gotten a bit hairy. A bit fuzzy.
Not to worry. When things seem out of control, you just have to get in there, feel around and find the edges. One thing at a time (“bird by bird, buddy.”) Long-term messes gain focus, short-term messes sharpen up into manageable little trifles, and the whole thing overall begins to look again like something you can clearly handle. Edge by edge.
It’s another project management problem-solving thinky-type thing. And it ties right in there with other thinly veiled garden metaphors about getting down on your hand and knees, finding where the roots hit the dirt, and clearing away the stuff that doesn’t belong. Like good old Michaelangelo said (I think it was him), sculpting isn’t so hard – you just knock away all the bits that don’t look like the statue.
Plus it’s insanely satisfying to fire up a weed whacker and let s**t fly.
Here’s the path I started last year through an unmanageable section of Xeri left by my very busy predecessor. I’ve been slowly collecting the various river rocks strewn throughout the yard and dumping them in a curving path shape. This year I’m dealing with the stuff that wants to grow up through my nice path, all entropy-like:
Now then, trees. I planted an Eastern Redbud and a very young Pink Lady apple tree in early spring, and mulched around them. The idea now is to grow the mulch rings outward, turning each tree into an “area” of sorts. This is making edges. Defining things. Solving little problems that by turn make the big picture look manageable:
You can see by the frowny face that I’m not so stoked about all the invaders coming up around my Eastern Redbud. But I’m starting to deal with them. They will be vanquished. Or the Mulberry bush will, one moonless night, just reach over and eat the tree whole. It has been known to do things like that.
Finally, the back nine. The little porchy area is always a problem come July, as the ants have tunneled underneath making way for healthy weed root production between flagstones. And behind the stones, where Yours Truly has not quite addressed The Situation (except for planting a Youngii’s Weeping Birch), some semblance of edge control is beginning to take shape.
I added a bunch of rocks (last year) around the back of this area to define it. Edge. I added more rocks this year in further effort. And some cheap solar garden lights. Then I transplanted some large grasses and a Salvia for more border enhancement (edges). Finally, last weekend I dumped a bunch of mulch behind all that to keep the creepers away, and pulled all the creepers coming up through the stones:
Happy with this edge, I have some ideas on how to expand further into the Unkempt Zone.
Edges. Define your edges. Set your boundaries. It feels good. Know how things sit, how they fit together. Listen to the landscape and see what it wants, listen to what you want, and find ways those things work best together. That sort of edge-listening is more productive than forcing a plan. Oh and mulch is cheap right now – go grab all you can.