Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dawkins made me mulch

Problem: The area of our backyard under the roofline has been eroded by rainwater pouring off the roof. The result is a ditch about 8 inches lower than the turf level, filled with sand and rocks.  It reminds me of a neat story...

Richard Dawkins uses the example of how the force of pounding surf, given enough time, will eventually sort all the rocks on a beach, tossing the lighter rocks farther up the shore, and leaving the heavier rocks closer to the water. To the passing observer, it would seem that this order and organization in nature must be the result of intelligence. But no, it's just physics.

So, that's what I was thinking of when I saw this ditch full of sand and pebbles. Then I realized the ditch was ugly, possibly dangerous to the foundation, and Dawkins is a shrill and bitter man.

So, what to do? Probably the smartest thing to do would be to install gutters. I've got them in front, why not in back? But that seems complicated (it probably isn't), plus I don't own a ladder. Well, why not dig a flower bed next to the house and fill it with an assortment of shrubberies? Yay! New project!

First, chop up the earth, mix the tough clay with topsoil and compost, and level everything out. No toads were harmed during this project. Several, however, were relocated aerially over the fence.

Look at all the red Carolina clay. Fun fact: the clay turns red because of a complete lack of aerobic bacteria. It suffocates life! Normal soil particles are irregular shaped, and allow moisture and air to flow between them. Clay is made of flat plates that lock together forming a nearly impermeable barrier. Jerks. Hopefully, by amending the soil with compost, we will break up the consistency a bit.

Next, we plant! For this bed, we decided on a mixture of Japanese Box Hollies and Purple Diamond Fringebush. Both will only get to be 4'-6' and do not require full sun.

The Ms. and her sharp instruments of agri-wonder:

With shrubs planted, it's time to mulch. I've never lived in a place with red mulch. Always brown. Well, I'm an adult now, and I'm getting red mulch.

Maybe the red doesn't set off the purple fringebush as well as a tan mulch would. Oh well, too late now. I had already bought nearly 30 cubic feet of the stuff. (nb: When guesstimating how much mulch you will need, go ahead and multiply your first guess by like 11, and save yourself a couple of trips to Lowe's).

The finished product:

It didn't occur to us until after the whole job was done that the new flower bed, on the North side of the house, gets absolutely no direct sun. Check back in a year to see if these plants make it!

My hypothesis is that the combination of mulch, shrubs, and flower bed borders will thwart the erosion of both my topsoil and the credibility of robust divine action.

No comments:

Post a Comment