I Paper Mâchèd Our Yard

by | Oct 18, 2007 | Uncategorized

In keeping with my thrifty post, I thought I’d share one of the more comical things I’ve done lately.

I’m a doer – always thinking about my next project and I seldom worry or care about how difficult it’s going to be – even if it’s something I’ve never done before, which is often. Recently, I’ve been focusing on our back yard. We have a huge yard in comparison to most in this area. The problem is that it doesn’t have much landscaping and no shade. It’s almost too big to even know where to start. I’ve put in small flower beds here and there, but nothing really substantial.

In the past, I’ve batted my eyelashes and sweetly asked Justin to dig up the sod for these beds. Depending on the size, that has taken anywhere from 20 minutes to 8 hours for him to do. Plus, with all my recent focus on being frugal and making use of every possible resource we have, I didn’t feel like throwing away all that grass that would make such excellent fertilizer for the new beds I was planning.

So…in comes lasagna gardening. Justin’s cousin first told me about this technique a few years ago, but I never thought much more about it until now. After doing some research, I decided this would be the perfect solution for adding some more visual interest to our yard. Plus, I found free dirt via Craigslist because I REFUSE to pay for dirt.

Now, up to this point, the story all sounds very logical. To understand how comical it is, you have to understand how I operate. When I want to do something, I just do it. I don’t care if conditions are favorable, whether I have all the necessary materials, or even whether I have the time – all of that is inconsequential to fact that I have something I want to do and I want to do it, now.

So, back to the paper mâchèd yard. The principal of this gardening technique is that your existing grass doesn’t get removed, it just becomes one of the layers in your new bed. You put newspapers or brown paper bags or essentially anything that will decompose over the grass and you drench it with water. Then you put dirt and other organic material such as grass clippings, compost and mulch over top of that. The grass dies underneath the paper and just becomes part of the rich soil you’ve created. Sounds so simple, right? And, it’s free!

This brings us back to Sunday when I went to Shop and Save and grabbed as many paper bags as I could without being too obvious. I already had the free dirt lined up, all Justin had to do was borrow a friend’s truck and go get it. And all I had to do was get the bags laid down before he got home with the dirt. Doesn’t sound too difficult, right? Well, maybe not if it wasn’t the windiest day of the year. I had just put the girls down for naps, so I knew I had 60-90 minutes tops to get this done.

I confidently walked back to the area I was going to transform and was mortified to find that what had seemed like a small area initially, is, upon closer inspection, much larger than I thought. My stack of sneakily-gotten grocery bags wasn’t even going to make a dent to cover this area and Justin was going to be there with all of this dirt that was going to have to go somewhere.

I didn’t let this momentary set-back deter me. With my usual tenacity, I proceeded to hose down the bags and see just how far I could get. It was then that I realized I had nothing to anchor these bags with and the wind was making it impossible to keep them in place. Imagine 30 wet paper bags blowing around and a premenstrual woman chasing them down cursing under her breath. Yeah, it was fun. I managed to use rocks, sticks and any other thing I could find to help me anchor the bags and just finished laying down the last bag when Justin arrived.

Luckily, he wasn’t able to get as much dirt as he originally thought and we had just enough to cover the area that I had covered with paper bags. I didn’t get to create the entire area I was hoping for, but at least this would give me something to work with next spring. I couldn’t have planned it better if I had known what I was doing.

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