Weeds. The verge was covered in them, plus couch grass which never looked good, overgrown and tangled in winter, then patchy and dusty in summer. We could have put a bit of effort into making a lawn out there, but I don’t care much for lawn that we don’t really need, so couch destruction was imminent.
I joined in a Permablitz a couple of years ago with the Lockridge Community Garden crew where we tackled a lot of weeds with manure, newspaper and mulch so I thought I’d give that idea a whirl. After a bout of overanalysis, the plan unfurled:
- Dial Before You Dig
- Dig 200mm deep to get rid of the weeds and most of the couch roots
- Add a layer of fresh chicken manure to burn the remaining roots and enrich the future growing medium
- ‘Seal in’ the manure and roots with a layer of wet newspaper
- Top up with plenty of mulch for more nutrients and keeping moisture in
So quick to say, not so easy to do. Call the cavalry. Neighbours collected newspaper for me over a few weeks; Nick and Ny helped me borrow Luke and Shelly’s Kanga digger; I ordered a six cubic metre skip and 50 bags of manure; and a half-dozen-strong gang of people joined in for some digging. There was plenty of food and playing children, which helped to enrich the day.
Despite having to drive 45km each way with a heavy horse float (or, you know, spend actual money hiring one), the digger paid itself off very quickly, both ripping up the grass and dirt, and particularly for lifting it high into the skip. It proved (as with Annora & Rodney’s place a few weeks ago) to be the bottleneck though, so Ken’s arrival with his mattock to break up the ground was timely. Star pickets protected the fire hydrant and power pole from any errant driving or tool swinging.
The skip soon filled, we thought we were done with the lion’s share of the work. Lunch was served and I was a mighty happy man. Back to do the final work and cleanup…
A full three cubic metres of additional dirt came out while Ian and I tried to get it reasonably level. We were both fighting perfectionist urges, a worthwhile fight because kids needed afternoon naps, plus the tree roots made digging quite fiddly. In the end it only took a couple of hours, so we were done by mid afternoon, quite pleased with the hole we’d dug.
The manure was a simple job – line ’em, cut ’em open, kick ’em over, rake it out.
Fiddly and back breaking describes the paper layering, and I was thankful for large sheets of cardboard scavenged from various verge sides, and for Elise suggesting the paddling pool and sacrificing her back to the task as well. A thin layer of mulch on top (thanks to neighbours for sharing), and it looks a million bucks. All right I know it’s not that exciting to look at, but I’m very happy.
I’ve just heard that a truck from MulchNet has dumped far too much mulch on our verge, so the neighbours will now get some in return!