Monday, May 17, 2010

lawn & garden

When we moved in last July, invasive Japanese Knotweed was creeping out of the woods and into our lawn. The stuff is nearly impossible to kill, since its root system can reach 10 feet into the soil and spread 20 feet horizontally. It is very, very well adapted to life in the suburban northeast.

Herbicides can be effective, but since we have dogs we were reluctant to spray the lawn with toxins. Instead, we mowed the knotweed down to nothing and covered the area with opaque tarps. Since Japanese Knotweed can lie dormant for years awaiting sunnier conditions, we knew we couldn't starve it to death, only halt its growth temporarily.

We left the tarps all winter. A few shoots sprouted up between the seams, along with some dandelions and weeds. When we finally pulled up the tarps last weekend, incredibly, a dozen green knotweed shoots had emerged underneath the tarps, without any access to sunlight. This stuff is unstoppable.

I went around on my hands and knees and dug out the rogue shoots. Then I tilled the entire area with a hoe (I am still sore). We put down grass seed yesterday and have been keeping it damp.

I know we haven't killed the knotweed, but I'm hoping the grass will come in, compete for sunlight and nutrients, and slow the knotweed down a bit. If we keep the area mowed, the knotweed won't have a chance to build up food stores and grow thick stalks. I'll let you know in a few weeks if we actually grow grass.

Do you remember the overgrown tangle growing along the driveway?

We had lilies, grass, some kind of ground cover plant, and two types of baby trees!

Over the past month I dug all of that up (again, ouch), and turned over the soil. Yesterday we put in two yellow flowering rhododendrons.

They're small now, but they can grow up to 8 feet tall and 8 feet wide, so in a few years I hope they'll cover up our ugly basement windows.

I'll probably cover the open soil with more driveway gravel.

Yay for low-maintenance bushes and yay for neatness!


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Underneath the Pink Carpet

Last weekend Rod ripped up the pink carpet in the front room that might become an office. Remember it in all its pinkness:

Not only was the carpet ugly, it was getting kind of stinky because the dogs love that room.

The wooden flooring underneath is in surprisingly good shape:

We could feel a raised area in front of the boarded-up fireplace and were hoping for a brick hearth, but it turned out to be just wood:

Next in this room: removing the drop ceiling. What are we, a church basement?


Friday, February 19, 2010

This Blows!

Our snow this winter has been pathetic—there's been none to speak of since early January, and the ground is looking dry and brown. Why did Virginia take all our snow? They don't even know how to enjoy it.

Back around New Year's Day, when we did have significant snow, we bought a snowblower. It is a gas-guzzling beast. It's terrible. We have a really long driveway, but still. You can blame me for at least four polar bears drowning.

Wanna hear a funny story about that snowblower?

It weighs 300 pounds. We needed to get it from the back of the pickup truck onto the ground, about a three foot drop. The morning after the last big snowstorm, the process went something like this:

Rod: Are you sure you can lift the back of this thing?

Me: Yeah, no problem.

Rod: Really? If it's too heavy I can ask one of the neighbors to help, or build a ramp or something.

Me: I am wicked strong. I lift weights.

Rod: How much weight do you lift?

Me: Like, 30 pounds. Sometimes 40.

Rod: Um...

Me: C'mon, it's cold!

Rod: Okay, on three. 1...2...3...


The snowblower went from truck to driveway in 0.2 seconds. Thankfully the snow broke its fall, and nothing's amiss as far as we can tell.

In other news, isn't our new layout so fancy?