Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Restoration of the Driveway Area


I'm working rather long hours right now, but taking one day off a week is a health requirement for any sustained work stint. So last Sunday I spent the whole day in the garden. I've been itching to get rid of the grassy weeds around the bottom of the driveway (what I call the "driveway hump"), and also to limb up and trim back the trees along the driveway, and I achieved all these goals - except for one or two higher branches I couldn't reach with my handy pole saw. And the overhanging bough that is festooned with hairy honeysuckle, just coming into bloom.

Duncan is showing you my handiwork above. I keep the bank that's to the upper right of Duncan pretty spotlessly weeded, and it has a lot of pretty coast melic grass (picture in an upcoming blog). Behind that bank is the path through the redwoods, that the Boulder Creek Squirrels made for us a few weeks ago.

I'm not sure I really want young bay trees growing along the banks edging the small redwood grove behind my dad's cottage. And if I do I'm not sure I want all these. And even if I want all these, I should probably take out one of those crossing trunks. But still, they are an interesting look, and I need practice pruning. I really need an arborist to advise me on the trees and shrubs that grow around the edge of the redwood grove. Some probably should just go.

Each spring, I especially want to get ahead of the weedy grasses. Every year I fail in part, but every year I succeed a little more. We have rip-gut brome, and other kinds of weedy brome grasses, and rattlesnake grass, wild oats, and other sorts of the grasses introduced for grazing livestock. I've really gotten rid of most of the foxtail type grass, fingers crossed.

I did some grass-whacking after finishing work on Saturday, in the same general area (left of where Duncan is standing). I hate weed-whacking, because it just flings the seeds hither and yon. I prefer picking out the grass by hand, and putting it in the green waste bin to get composted at the dump, where they have very hot composting. But you can't hand weed everything. I do hand weed the driveway hump, though. And this year I am triumphant - I got lots of them out before they popped out their charming little seed heads (Wish I had a picture of them handy):

But still, every year I'm making progress. And this year I weeded the entire hump in just three hours! That's major progress.

Ah, now doesn't that look nicer? We have two very nice native grasses, and one that's - just a big grass. And possibly more native species I can't yet ID. The ordinary one is a native brome, Bromus carinatus or common brome, but it's a bit hard to tell. Its awns (the feathery bits on the flowers and seeds) are short (whereas all the weedy ones that grow around here have long awns) and the native brome's seed head is flattened (unlike the short-awned but puffy-seed-headed weedy brome called soft chess). Also it's got hairy stems and blades; a lot of our local natives are a bit on the hirsute side.

I was also thrilled to see that the lupines - small annual lupinus bicolor - growing in the scraggy area in front of the corral are really quite large this year, about a foot tall, and more of them than last year. I was careful to weed-whack around them. I'll get pictures of all these pretty things soon.

I do see more and more natives each year where I'm hand weeding the grasses. So if you are embarking on restoration yourself, be encouraged!

9 comments:

Christine said...

It sounds so barbaric to pull your enemies right out of the ground with your hands, but so so satisfying! It's encouraging to hear your progress since you started years ago. And of course, I always love seeing Duncan first thing in the morning!

Chandramouli S said...

Weeding! God! It's so difficult, but seeing a clump of weeds in your hand with their roots is the most delightful sight, ain't it! You are doing an awesome job.

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

Wow CM you've been busy! I still have so many weeds to pull here, from nasty thistles, to what feels like acres of...well my best guess...is Ripgut Brome. Nasty pervasive stuff.

As for Bay trees, I have a bit of a disdain for those too. Probably the only native tree I really don't like very much. They're so competitive, phenomenal hosts for sudden oak death, and most of ours are sick anyway, falling over with no notice. I'd much rather see Ceanothus, or Madrone, or more Redwood.

I'm so excited your hairy honeysuckle is starting to bloom. Means ours can't be far behind, and we have lots popping up this year!

Town Mouse said...

Very exciting! I'm especially impressed because I actually got a lot more weeds this year because it's been so wet. But that's the curse of being a Town Mouse...

Brad said...

It's good to hear you're making progress. I feel like weeding always seems so futile. And I'm impressed you weeded that mound in 3 hours by yourself. You've obviously been practicing.

Kate said...

Good to read this... I always need encouragement as it is sooo difficult to get the pretty native flowers to bloom and frightfully easy for the wild grasses to suffocate them.

Noelle said...

I'm trying to stay ahead of the weeds too! We have not had too much rain lately, so I am making some headway :-) I cannot wait to see your Lupines blooming soon.

Amy said...

It does look a lot better! You have been very busy. I have a whole side yard of weeds that I need to get to before they take over!

lostlandscape (James) said...

Even an intense day of weeding can be more fulfilling than indoor work projects. Bravo for giving the natives a helping hand!