by Susan Harris
Have you finished putting down fresh mulch in all your borders yet? This is THE biggest job of the year for most gardeners – especially if you include all the cleaning up and weeding that we do before applying those 1-2 inches of mulch.
So every year I struggle with the gardener’s dilemma: Can I find someone to help me who won’t destroy my emerging perennials, or do I have to do it all myself? Seriously, I’ve heard horror stories about cut-rate “landscapers” who swore they knew a weed from a perennial and then proceeded to rip out dozens of valuable plants. That’s why I’ve always done spring clean-up myself, but this year at least I got help moving the 7 cubic yards of mulch I apply every spring. See, I garden on a hillside and the mulch delivery truck has to dump the stuff in my driveway, waaaay uphill from most of the garden. That means I have to carry the mulch downhill – down two sets of steps – and last year, in a bout of pure masochism, I actually counted the trips I had to make and the number brings back memories of all sorts back pain – 135! And I’m a Baby Boomer, ya know, so not actually young.
But this year I found Pedro, recommended by many neighbors as hard-working and resourceful, and darned if he wasn’t exactly that. He quickly rigged up a way to move the mulch in a wheelbarrow and got the driveway clear of those seven cubic yards in less than four hours. Since then, I’ve covered all my beds with mulch and there’s enough left over in a pile at the back of the garden to cover the soil I expose every time I plant something new or move something old. Which I seem to do all season long. Ah, the security of having plenty of mulch!
How to find help for big gardening jobs is just one of the topics covered in the new book Gardening for a Lifetime by award-winning writer Sydney Eddison. Now a widow recovering from hip replacement surgery, Eddison has had to adopt the principles of low-maintenance gardening, especially replacing complex perennial borders with easy-care shrubs. Her book about the transition in her garden and gardening techniques is chockful of great ideas for not just older or disabled gardeners but busy gardeners of all ages. Here’s my rave review of the book.