Social distancing garden jobs, 13 April 2020

My neighbour John was walking past today as my husband and I were tidying up the front yard. We stood the required 2 metres away from each other while we talked about pumpkins. John is growing pumpkins in his front yard, I am growing in the back. He learned how to hand pollinate from me, and now he has three pumpkins coming on, which he is well chuffed about. I gave him some spare cabbage seedlings I had leftover (my seed sowing eyes were bigger than my veggie patch), and he gave me some eggs from his backyard hens. While we were never closer than 2 metres from each other, we shared the gardening bounty as gardeners do, no matter what.

Today my husband and I were tackling the most hated part of our garden: the front lawn. We are not fans of lawn. He hates to mow it, and I hate to grow it. I think it is a big pain in the butt, a waste of water and time, and a waste of good growing space. I could be growing veggies, herbs, or flowers in that big expanse of land. Unfortunately, the way our lawn is placed makes it somewhat difficult to just dig it all up and use it as extra garden space. There are no footpaths on our street, so the front lawns of every house make up part of the walking space for pedestrians. There are also no front fences, which is a bit weird in my opinion, but this housing development was built in the late 70s and I guess home security wasn’t grooooovy, man. So to dig up the whole lawn and plant, say, a citrus hedge and additional veggie patch, would make it difficult for dog walkers, the postie, and our 84 year-old neighbour four doors down, who walks to the shop and back daily, pandemic be damned.

But the lawn ain’t making it easy. Firstly, calling it a ‘lawn’ is generous. I would argue that it is more a collection of annoying weeds, loosely held together with a blend of three lawnish plants, one of which I know is couch, and one of which is kikuyu coming in from next door (not John, the other side). As the neighbour on the other side has a somewhat relaxed attitude to garden maintenance, bless him, I know that the kikuyu will always come through, and it will be my job to continue to dig up the bits of it that sneak their annoying way through.

My husband decided he had enough of mowing the weeds, and to try a new tactic. So for the past four or five weekends, he has been outside with a bucket and a ho mi, patiently digging up every annoying weed he can find in the front yard. This is a boring job, for which I thank him dearly. My plan was to stare hatefully at the weed lawn until it died.

After patiently digging out every weed he could find (almost – I didn’t like to tell him that some of what he thought was grass was also, in fact, weeds – I went over it and pulled most of those out later), we made a plan to replace the weed lawn with oregano and mint to make a herb lawn.

We have trialled replacing chunks of lawn with herbs in the past, and it has been successful (in that they have not died). Our plan is to take this trial and expand it with as many oregano and mint roots as I can dig out of the front yard (we have a large herb garden, so finding the plants won’t be an issue, and it is free). My husband planted one section today, and once they settle in, he will continue this job over the next few weeks. It is a good time to do it, as the weather is mild and the herbs will grow more roots over Winter.

Will the herb lawn succeed? I’ll post some photos in Springtime if it does.

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