The Vestigial Lawn

Brooke here:

There are the beginnings of a lawn.  Wait, no, that’s not important.  Let me rephrase… there is now an area where there is no ivy.

At one point, the space between the house and the pool was a lawn.  It really couldn’t have been anything but, as the ivy doesn’t have a firm foothold in that spot.  Oh, ivy was there — the ivy is everywhere, I open the fridge and find ivy — but the roots hadn’t yet formed that thick and tangled mat which churns beneath almost every other square inch of the property.  We’re betting the previous owners gave up on maintenance somewhere between five to ten years ago and the ivy hadn’t yet had time to thoroughly invade.

Lawn-ish area, with exposed water spigot. Everyone all together now! WHAT IS THIS I DON'T...

When we used the skid loader last weekend, we got rid of (most of) the damaged brick rubble, then ripped up this area as best we could and dumped a couple of tons of new topsoil on it. And then on Saturday we had a torrential thunderstorm which washed half of the soil into the gully, so we replaced it on Sunday.  And then on Sunday we had a torrential thunderstorm which washed half of the soil into the gully…  technically we had a net gain on soil but we also had a very personalized and rather expensive lesson in erosion.

After the skid loader, dirt, and thunderstorms comes the Return of Puppy Butt.

Check out the topography of the land.  Using Puppy Butt as a marker, you can see the area behind Butt and to the left is elevated.  The land has a natural terraced effect here, as the stairs end at the first level section (approx. 20’x30′),  then it’s a good four-foot drop from that first section to the new (airquotes!) lawn (approx. 35’x50′).   We’re going to make sure the ivy in the transitional area between the top and bottom sections is good and dead, then put in some sort of a feature.  Maybe some stairs, maybe a retaining wall.   We’ll see how the area looks with grass and some light landscaping, then give it what it needs to: (a) be pretty; and (b) not be all SURPRISE DEATH TRAP for anyone unfamiliar with the sudden drop.

I had planned to rent a tiller over the weekend and knock the next stage of this project out, but yesterday afternoon I checked the Craigslist farm section on a whim.  For the cost of renting the tiller, I could hire a guy to bring his tractor to the house and plow the space up for me.  Yes, please.

Dirt! Dirt! Ivy-free, freshly-tilled dirt!

The tilling also helped distribute the soil so the area is now reasonably flat.   Of course, with the water line to the pump buried somewhere beneath that area to the left of the spraypainted green line, I still have some work to do by hand; pipes should be buried a minimum of 18″ but, well, I’m always terrified that we’ll find yet another cute and quirky (more airquotes!) feature (airquotes galore!) of this house that will require an insurance claim.   But you all know how I love my mattock so that’s not a thing.

Since the lawn-ish area hadn’t been treated for who knows how long, I added lime to adjust the pH and lawn starter fertilizer before and after tilling.  The treated soil will need at least a week to cure before seeding, and in the meantime we’ll go through with rakes to remove any remaining ivy roots and brick rubble.  As for seeding a lawn in mid-summer, which is usually a horticultural no-no, I did some research on grass and found seed for the variety is best suited for the location (3 hours of direct sun a day with filtered shade for 5 hours, and clay soil).  This variant thrives in extreme heat and should be planted no later than 90 days before the first frost.   Sure, this variant turns poo-brown in the winter but the way global climate change is headed, that’s only for thirteen hours a year.  Fourteen, tops.

Progress, progress, progress!

One thought on “The Vestigial Lawn

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