• Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
sunshine & unicorns: a blog about love, learning, and life in the upper midwest

21 April 2010

tip: repetitive shoveling will give you toned arms for your wedding

backyard without the play-set

When I left off the story, our backyard looked as shown above. What would we do with this area? Build a little patio next to the garage? That'd be a little odd. And let's face it, we wouldn't use it but a few times a year. So our best option was to simplify: turn the space into part of the yard. But first, we had to remove the previous ground cover.

First, the rotten old mulch and sand. I have no idea how long this has been here, but it was definitely not reusable. It was a damp mess of decaying mulch and tarp, garbage, and bugs and larvae. Gross gross gross. It would have been cool if we could have just dragged it out on the tarps, but there was too much of it. Oh, and the tarps were anchored into the ground. So I pulled.

backyard, slowly peeling up the tarps

And shoveled.

backyard -working on the mulch

And raked.

raking up all of the mulch

backyard with the mulch all raked up

Until it was all boxed up. Our city does compostables-collection every Friday during the warm months. All we have to do is put the 'yard waste' into containers that are either plastic and reusable, or cardboard and biodegradable. We had a few plastic containers for the mulch, but mostly I trucked it out of our yard in boxes I'd gotten at our local grocery store on Tuesday mornings, after they've restocked.

I wish I'd counted the boxes or photographed the amount of mulch we moved. It was a lot. I don't think I'd be exaggerating to say it was between 30 and 50 decently-sized (as big as I could carry) boxes of mulch. I was out there almost every evening and weekend, shoveling and raking and dragging boxes of bug-filled, smelly mulch out to the curb. Each day I'd come in with mulch up my nose, in my hair, down my shirt, and um, in my butt crack. It's windy in North Dakota, and this was dirty work. Anyway, I don't have a picture, but I did get it all raked up and out. This was my pre-wedding workout-and-tan-plan, all rolled in to one! I worked on it for nearly 2 months and finished the last of it within a week of our wedding.

And then, we did this:

("Wow, PinkHeli, your shoulders and tan look great!" "Thanks, I call it the I-Shoveled-Mulch-All-Summer In-The-Hot-Sun fitness plan!"

Since we obviously didn't get the area filled with lush green grass before the wedding, my motivation was gone. It was a mud hole for the wedding, but our parents understood. (And me? I was *proud* of that mud hole. I created that mud hole, y'all. I'm pretty sure I showed it to my dad with glee, a shit-eating grin plastered on my face.) And we were back to full-time school, and the weather was getting colder.

And shortly after that, this happened.

Sidewalk behind our house

No point in planting grass THEN! But in the spring, there was this!

backyard in the spring

(Damn, the mess is still there. I was hoping it would have magically morphed into a beautifully manicured lawn underneath the snow. No such luck.) Look closer though, do you see what's on the ground toward the fence back there?

Look closer.


Rocks. An approximate 12' x 3' spread of landscaping rocks. Why? (If you buy an old house, you'll find yourself uttering that three-letter word a lot.)

I never picked up the rocks last year, so there they were, still waiting for me.

Three things are now standing between us and a finished lawn.
1 - the rocks
2 - the stump
3 - proper drainage

First, I decided to deal with the rocks. There has to be some kind of intelligent, fast, easy and cost-free way to pick up lots of little rocks. Wait until you see what I came up with.