Wednesday, November 28, 2007

the overgrown truth

Once upon a time we moved into a house with a yard which was covered completely in bark dust. Bark dust over weed fabric. Oh, I exaggerate. It wasn't completely covered: there was also a huge ancient patch of invasive ivy. We spent two years there pulling and shoveling and messing about and what did we have to show for all that when we left? Jack Squat. So you'd think we would've learned our lesson, no?


Welcome to my backyard. Fewer leaves on the grape vines than when this picture was taken a couple of weeks ago. It's been rather wet since, so the ground is soggier. A mash of slimy leaves and moldy grapes and dog crap. But no bark dust. At least there's that.

Had we made "perfect yard" a non-negotiable criterion for house hunting, we might not have ever found a place and (if you didn't have the privilege of following along with that drama), we were desperate. The front lawn, in all my home's previous twenty-five year vacancy, had automatic irrigation, but I can't see much evidence of much other outside maintenance. The grapes grow over and around a long collapsed arbor. The walkways are barely seen for all the debris. It's such a mess.

This past long holiday weekend, my husband meticulously measured our lot and made a scale drawing of our house's orientation and printed out several copies. Now we have a blank page for marking up garden plans and ideas. I have plenty of ideas. I'm the idea queen. Put me on a hill and pay me a quarter and I'll give you an idea. Okay, don't pay me. I'd give you one anyway. I don't lack for ideas.

I just don't know what to do.

We have a lot of challenges with our yard: decades of neglect, the corner location which seems to beg passers-by to walk across it any old time (the nerve!), the odd division of usable space (our house is a one level -with basement- sprawling ranch and the yard is in little pockets all around), my complete ineptitude.

I listen to The Alternative Kitchen Garden which is brilliant and charming (and if I have to be a blunt-headed American to sweepingly color British pronunciation and phrases "charming", so be it) for inspiration. I need to think that turning our overgrown heap of a yard into some place functional and beautiful is possible at all, or how else would I ever be motivated to get started? I listen to this podcast and the host is so sweet and knowledgeable I think, hey, maybe I can do that. But then I look out my window and I'm not so sure.

I must possess some amount of latent gardening-specific enthusiasm. We've just moved around so much that we've never been able to really invest in our own dirt. I've grumbled about not having the chance to have a garden and now that I have the chance again, I'm overwhelmed. I don't want to get so engrossed in some epic Operation Overgrown clean-up job that I don't get to use the yard in a way that offers me some sort of fulfillment and joy. Because shoveling moldy dog crap is not all it's cracked up to be.

1 comment:

Angelina said...

I totally get being overwhelmed by your project yard. I often am too. I think you need to do all the fun planning stuff with your husband, get your favorite ideas hashed out. Then, figure out which aspect of your garden is most important to you, or that would be most rewarding. You start there and don't worry about the whole thing. If you have a basic plan you can work section by section.

I think the most important thing you have to ask yourself is what do you want your garden to do for you. That will inform your every step.

And now I have made myself sound like a cheesy earnest gardening show host with a conservative politician's wife haircut. Damn me.