Native Garden III

It’s been months since my last native garden post, and a lot has happened, but also nothing has happened at all! It’s continuously shocking to me how long my projects take me. It’s now mid August, and if things had originally gone to plan, I would have finished with my native garden entirely by now. Unfortunately, not everything goes to plan, if they ever do. A lack of motivation struck. The unbearably hot summer struck. Weeks on end sat in the high 90s, sometimes creeping into three digits. Water restrictions struck. The deadline to finish my garden was extended. And so, my lack of motivation was justified!

I spent weeks collecting free mulch from LA county, and then I had to decide how to get rid of the grass that comprised my then perfectly manicured front lawn. I could rip it out and then rent a dumpster to throw away all the remains, or, I could use the lasagna method. The lasagna method, to me, was less labor intensive in that my grass didn’t have to come out at all; I could simply put the compost and paper and mulch on top of the grass and simply let it suffocate to death. This also seemed more conducive to doing in parts. Since I didn’t have to rent anything special, I could break up my lawn into parts, gather the materials for the smaller sections, and do it bit by bit. Of course, I wanted to finish that first part by the end of April since it took about three months to fully suffocate the grass and break it down, and that would leave a couple weeks to plant and irrigate. A stretch at best – knowing my pace, planting everything would take months.

But I did (with recruited friend labor) manage to start lasagna-ing all the grass by the end of April. First, a layer of compost went down. Everything was covered in brown craft paper. Three inches (or so; it’s hard to say exactly…) of mulch was placed on top. Everything was watered, and I was going to continue watering everything to keep the soil moist and fertile until it was ready for planting; but alas, water restrictions struck, and one again, it’s mid August and nothing is yet planted. So the sprinklers were shut off because, really, it’s not as if mulch by itself needs water to suffocate grass.

With that done, my lawn had turned from a beautiful grassy lawn into an ugly brown stretch, just in time for summer. But! Part of my plan called for a water conservation method, and in my case, a dry creek made of gravel and cobble and stones. So now I had to dig a hole, and get the rocks to fill the creek.

The funny thing about obtaining rocks is that they’re literally everywhere. You can go to the park and find rocks, you can go to the beach and find rocks, you can walk down the street and probably find rocks. And yet, when you need two tons of rocks, you probably can’t go walking around collecting random rocks. But that’s okay, you can get two tons of rocks delivered right to your driveway, and then you can move them one by one into the hole that you spent weeks digging because it was so hot you really only had half an hour or an hour before sunset that was remotely cool enough to be doing any outdoor activity. And even then, you’d likely finish drenched in sweat. Even sitting outside for ten minutes would end up drenched in sweat!

And finally, after months and months of work, I ended up with an ugly brown stretch of yard with an extra dry creek because of course we’re in a drought. But soon (maybe in a few months, maybe a year, who’s to say), the weather will cool down and the plants will be in, and the ugly brown yard will slowly be transformed into a pretty native garden.