by Nita Hill

I suppose every gardener has an ambivalent relationship with grass. I am excited to have a lawn again. I filled our last house’s back yard with raised beds, so therefore, we could no longer play croquet. When it comes to borders, grass is the enemy. Here, we have these huge river rocks as edging. When you are sitting on your bum as I do, they are a strain to move. In Portland, I had edged the beds with bricks laid the narrow way. When the grass muscled in I simply lifted the brick and removed the grass and returned the brick. Also, my garden was small. Here, I would say the back is four times the size. The scale of the rocks works, but the beds are much too narrow. Three feet wide is skimpy in a yard this large.

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Widening the beds will be a chore, but there is a dearth of shrubs. The shrubs are the backbone of the garden. The shrub inventory: Two very tiny hydrangeas and a large shrub rose on the south and two lilacs and something else that has no leaves now that I can’t identify on the west. There are also two clematis on the west lying on the ground. When the former owners moved, they took the “trellises” or cyclone fence gates as they are usually called. The former owners did like garden ornaments. Old wheel barrows half buried and little tchotchkes, like a Mickey and Minnie birdbath. My favorite was a teflon skillet set that had been drilled and hung in the tree as a bird feeder.

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As I was digging out grass I unearthed three little metal birds with made me think of Bob Marley, “Don’t worry about a thing. Every little thing is gonna be alright.”

Back to grass. I can’t do anything until the grass is beaten back. In my former petite garden, I was able to keep the grass at bay with the minimal effort. Here I need a strategy. I thought of a two-story house we bought where the former owners had planted bamboo (always a suspect strategy) to keep the south side from baking. They had put wide flashing around the bamboo and, of course, it had happily grown over and under. It was a frickin’ chore to dig it all out. Would that work under the river rocks? Would 6 inches suffice or would I need to go for 10 or more?

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