Wednesday, April 6, 2011

One year wrapup: yard and landscaping

Heh - this will be a short post, because basically we haven't yet DONE any landscaping or other yard work. Too busy with other stuff and also don't feel like spending any real money on cosmetics when we live way out here in the woods. But I do want to comment on a few things.

As you may recall, our yard was left as bare dirt with just a protective covering of straw around the perimeter of the house. That straw has worked great and has lasted much longer than I would have expected - I should get more. The rest of the yard has degenerated into a mess of tiny tree sprouts, moss, and weeds :(. We made a brief effort last fall to weed some of the yard and quickly gave it up as a back-killing effort. More advanced methods are called for, methinks. I don't want to get deep into it though until we finalize a full-up landscaping plan, which we're not ready to do just yet.

Our driveway developed some deep rutted areas after several months of use. Some were deep enough that low-slung cars might have bottomed out. We hired a local contractor to come in to grade\level the driveway and add recycled asphalt. Wow, huge difference! :)

Both Paul (our general contractor) and Brad (the clearing\grading guy) warned me not to landscape too soon, since the earth would need time to settle and this might disrupt any landscaping efforts. This was good advice, there have developed several low areas in the yard which tend to collect water during rainfalls. The driveway immediately in front of the garage also drains very poorly. I have begun to research French drains and am thinking of a summer project to install a system of them around the house to drain everything away to the low end (southwest corner).

With all of the damp areas around this house, bugs have been a bit of a problem. Sitting out on the back porch when it gets dark, on warm nights, is not a good idea. I researched around for bug control products and found a couple of basic ideas: bug zapper lights, and propane-powered bug traps. I went with a Blue Rhino SV 5100 mosquito trap and hooked it up directly to the house propane (no need to refill bottles :)). You can read about them on Amazon and other places, but basically they need to run continuously for weeks and weeks in order to cut into the population and birth rate of the bugs. Mine has only been running for a couple of weeks. So we will see how this thing does - the trap is full of tiny mosquitos, but I suspect\hope it will do better when the weather warms up.

Living in the forest, it's a good idea to be prepared for fallen trees as a result of windstorms. This past winter was no exception - a couple of trees over by the well were pushed over (nearly hit my son's car). Fortunately I bought myself a Stihl MS-290 Farm Boss chainsaw last fall. I've never had one of these before, but you better believe I'm careful with it. It came in handy for the two downed trees, and I've also been using it clear some other small areas. I gotta say, swinging a chainsaw is hard work for this poor desk jockey - a few hours of that and my arms want to fall off. :)

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