Here's the Scoop: April 11, 2012

Weekend...time for work!
Like many Americans with a general Monday-Friday work schedule, I crave the weekends. Those two days are an opportunity to kick back — and haul around heavy stuff. Or chop up things. And, maybe set aside a bit of time for digging around a rock-hard hillside — all in anticipation of planting stuff. In other words: “fun.”

I recall when we started our adventure to move out of town to a more rural location, I was pretty content when we removed the trees growing up inside the “fixer-upper” we had purchased. It was a good thing — and greatly added to the amount of available living space.

Outside the house, as the heavy equipment restored order to the landscape, the operator would ask, “Where do you want these stumps?” I would point in the general direction of the “woods,” which seemed a long distance away.

Unfortunately, I had failed to anticipate that, after the initial windfall of firewood resulting from the property clearing had been exhausted, there would be a need for more wood. Much more. I believe in climate change, but it still gets a bit chilly in these parts.

Changing the landscape
So, as the “less wooded” areas around the house have expanded (lawn is not an accurate term), the gardener in our household continues to gain inspiration to add “plantings’ in certain areas. A lot of areas, in fact.

Truth in column writing admission — I have actually also been responsible for recommending some of the landscape work. While I appreciate nice landscaping, I’m a big supporter of what I have coined, the “42-Inch Rule of Planting.”

This is a very technical concept, so I’ll boil it down to its simplest terms: all gardens have to ultimately decrease my time on the lawn tractor during mowing season and minimize (read: eliminate) the need for trim work via push mower or weed-whacker. Experienced lawn care folks probably have figured out that the “42” refers to the standard size of a riding mower deck.

Looking down the road
Which leads me back to the heavy duty work outlined in the opening of this column. My theory is that some serious work now will be pay big dividends later. My mowing time will be trimmed dramatically and my leisure hours on the porch are sure to skyrocket.

In the meantime, to reach this goal, I will continue making what feels like absurd investments in purchasing items like waste from bovines and truckloads of “quality” dirt — the latter a scarce product on a rocky hillside.

Mix all these purchased items together with a bunch of digging, hauling and raking and you’ve got — some very sore limbs when the weekend has concluded. I guess I know how all those trees felt.
— Brian Sweeney