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There are 2 plants (well, probably more) that I can say with absolute assurance that I hate.

honey locustThe first is locust trees. They are, unfortunately, the predominant tree in our yard. The roots are shallow and little baby locust trees grow from them. But because the trees are growing from the roots, you can’t even just pull them up – you end up pulling 20 feet of root that goes in, around, and between other plants and flower beds. It sucks. Plus they have thorns and still grow profusely from stumps. And rest assured mine don’t look like the one on wikipedia page. They’re ‘weed trees’ growing in what used to be a wooded area, so they’re tall and spindly and half dead and uneven and ugly. I hate them.

crabgrass

eeeeeekkk!!!

The second thing? Crabgrass. I have Bermuda grass, too, but I don’t hate it as much because it’s not nearly as pervasive. And honestly, I don’t care so much about the crabgrass in the main part of the lawn. It’s not as pretty as my parents’ gorgeous zoysia grass lawn that actually feels like a carpet, but it’s green so whatever. It would take longer than we plan on living in this house to reseed half an acre or so of lawn with zoysia (and more money). But I hate hate hate it for two reasons. First of all, it grows in the gravel driveway like crazy. I’m always having to pull it out. It’s not the only offender for sure, but it’s the most visible offender. Secondly, it creeps into my flower bed borders. If we had “good grass”, then even if the lawn needed to be cut, there wouldn’t be 6 inches of creeping grass in the flower beds.

But no amount of edging can keep out the crabgrass. (We currently have an edging of recycled tire that is supposed to look like brown mulch. I think it looks very nice…if you can find it under the crabgrass). Because it sprawls, if it’s anywhere near the edge of the flowerbed, it’ll find its way over. It doesn’t really seed IN the flower bed because I catch it, but it will do its evil sprawling rooting deal and make babies that way. It really bothers my sense of order and neatness. I hate it (did I mention that?).

It’s about the time to start taking care of such things for the fall (from what I hear, you do it once in the fall and once in the spring, right?). The lawn is hubby’s domain, but I’m willing to hear ideas. How can we take care of the crabgrass situation without using anything too evil? We are in a Chesapeake watershed area (there’s a pier off our road) and I do grow veggies in the yard. But I also want the crabgrass GONE.

While out backyard does have mostly “good grass” (we expanded the backyard when we moved in), the front yard has pretty much no “good grass,” so it’s not like we can just pull out the offending weeds, spray something there, and move on. It’s *all* crabgrass, bermuda grass, plantain weed, clover…you get the idea. We did do a weed and feed one year only to find out that that made our entire front lawn brown because, well…it’s all weeds! So then the crabgrass just came back full force with all that new area to seed itself. Obviously desperate measures cannot be taken. We can’t buy sod, we can’t till up the whole yard, etcetc. We need another option. There must be one! Help!

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This is one of many trees I got from the Arbor Day Foundation a couple years ago when my mom joined and gave me the saplings. I’ve lost a couple, but most are still doing respectably. Two trees I planted in the ground and the rest are in large pots so they can get nice and big and pretty (well bigGER) and then I can figure out where to put them.

I can’t remember what this tree is, though! It has these gorgeous white flowers with purple in the center – I didn’t ever get a pic of one in bloom, but you can see the remains below. Any ideas on this one would be helpful. It’s so pretty that I think its a tree I definitely want to have a place for somewhere in the yard, but where that place is depends on what this sucker is! As usual, click the images to view them larger.

Screen shot 2009-09-30 at 8.42.13 PM

Screen shot 2009-09-30 at 8.42.19 PM

my new 20-volt trimmer (aka weed whacker)

my new 20-volt trimmer (aka weed whacker)

You may remember that a few weeks ago I was totally excited to have won a Troy-Bilt trimmer via twitter. It was made clear that I didn’t have to review it or anything, but I mean what the heck? I’m going to use it and it was free and the info might help others, so I’m reviewing it. Well, true to the word of @allisonpeltz, it came in the mail while I was away in Hawaii (my dad was on the lookout for it while on cat-feeding duty). It rained a lot while we were away, so the yard REALLY needed a cut and trim when we got back. I took off the day after we got back to readjust, and my hubby only had to be in court for a few hours that day (he’s a cop, so they scheduled all of his court cases for the first day they knew he’d be back!). So I did a lot of work in the garden and he cut the grass when he came back. I did the trimming pre-grass cutting. (Note: I took a picture with me holding the trimmer, but I looked awful, so you get the artful leaning trimmer image – the garden to the left is what used to be my herb garden. I stuck a hosta and a sweet potato vine in there for now. Most of the herbs found a home in various pots since it was too wet there (sadface).).

The trimmer, a Troy-Bilt TB57, says it charges in about 4 hours – we’d let it charge overnight, so I can’t say if that’s true or not. But I will say that it trimmed my entire yard without dying! We had a fair amount of trimming on our just-under-an-acre, so I was trimming for probably about 30 min or so. And when my husband got home later, he did some additional trimming and the battery power was still fine. I assume we’ll have to charge it before its next use, though.

The trimmer isn’t too heavy and was plenty powerful. Our normal trimmer is gas powered, so I thought this one (a 20 volt) might have less pickup, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I hardly ever use the gas one, because it’s just so darn complicated to get the thing started that my husband has to be home for me to use it anyway, so he just does it himself (we trim usually every other time we cut grass). This is great – now I can just go ahead and do some trimming if it needs to be done and my hubby is at work! Awesome for me.

Using the trimmer was a little uncomfortable for me, but I think I just need to figure things out. You have to push two buttons to get it to go, one trigger-like button and then a button on the side – a good safety feature. But I found it awkward to have to push both even though I kept moving my fingers around. I even tried both right and left hand (and the first thing my husband noticed when he came home was that I was “holding it retardedly”) and it just felt funny. I ended up with the battery part kind of under my armpit, so I don’t know. Maybe I’m not just an accomplished trimmer.

So anyway, I think this thing is great. Much easier to deal with than the gas powered one, and you don’t have to keep buying gas. This tool also can share a battery with some other tools, among them I think a hedge trimmer and a pole-chainsaw, so if the battery stays good for a while, then that’s some money saved right there (thought it is often hard to buy battery-powered tools without the battery unless you buy a whole set that shares a battery at once, which is annoying). We could never use a corded one in our yard (we’d need to use a really long cord to get to all the places that need trimming, so it would be impractical), so I really like the battery-powered trimmer as a solution.

I think @allisonpeltz is going to send me some other Troy-Bilt goodies as well that I can give away on the blog, so if I do end up getting those, stay tuned for a fun giveaway! Note that doing a review was not a condition of winning the trimmer (it really was just a contest, as stated in the beginning), but I’m a review whore myself when buying something, so I always review things I get when I can. And since I got it for free, it’s the least I can do! Also note that if you want to send me something for free, I will totally review it for you! (*wink wink*)

(Note: If this review helped you, leave me a comment and let me know! It would be much appreciated!) http://twitter.com/allisonpeltz

…I will peruse these pics I took while gardening on Saturday. I am actually future-posting this from Saturday. As you are reading this, I am at a hip hop class 🙂 (oh how I miss dance!!)

I love this pic of my flowering quince! Sky and grass, shadow and sun. I previously had the quince in bud form as my desktop wallpaper (from this post), but now I’ve switched to the below pic. Much less fall, much more spring!

Quince in bloom

Quince in bloom

The pansies are a little worse for the wear after the snow and awfulness earlier in the month. But this one is still giving up some pretty blooms.

pansy

pansy

This crocus bloom is on its last leg, but I kinda like how big the yellow bits in the middle are (I should know my flower parts). nice contrast.

crocus

crocus

And last, enjoy a totally boring pic of my compost area. One goal this summer is to use the outdoor fireplace more! Note the lawn, fresh off its first mow of the season. Wildflowers are going to go on the other side of the shed, facing the road, this year. In the pot are is some lily of the valley my mom gave me, which was passed along from my granny. Irreplacable plants! They’re just starting to sprout, too.
compostarea1

They are, they really are. But it’s starting to get warmer fir good, so no complaints. Got a lot of stuff done outside today. Gave the lawn (/weeds) their first cut of the season The grass didn’t really need it, but the onions and other weeds did. I took a lot of pics, so I’m going to divide them into two posts.

Poker Vase

Poker Vase

I cut some daffs yesterday and put them in this cool little poker vase my mom got me for xmas. We got it at a local craft show (so it is local and handmade). I insisted I didn’t need it, but she ended up going back and getting it for me. I’m glad, because I really like it! I’ll def use it all summer long as I can cut flowers.

seedsoutsideI took the seeds outside for another vacay. It was windy, so that helps them I guess. Those nasturtiums are getting out of control, so it frigging better get warm enough to plant them outside soon! The roots are all out the bottoms, and they’re waaaay taller than the other plants in their tray. They’re also starting to twist all over themselves and their little tendrils are starting to grow – these are climbing nasturtiums! So…yes please get warm. My salad greens need to go in their pot outside, dammit!

hyacinth

hyacinth


^As you can see, the hyacinths are about to burst.

oops - bad planting

oops - bad planting


^But now that the daffs and tulips are up, I see I didn’t pick a great spot to plant these or the early stardrift. They get totally overshadowed. Ugh, I hate to move them, but I think I may have to do some bulb rearranging after they’re done blooming. I’d like to group my daffs and minidaffs better, too.

early stardrift

early stardrift


^Speaking of early stardrift, it’s a gorgeous little bulb! I got it in a big “dutch treat” bulb pack from Breck’s that I split with a friend in the fall. Had never heard of them, but I really like them! White with little blue stripes. Need to move them to a place where they can be seen a bit better, though.

ghetto trellis

ghetto trellis


^ And for the last pic of the day, enjoy my ghetto trellis. I wanted to make a “natural” one for my sweet pea flowers and climbing nasturtiums. I have a ton of twigs in the yard and a lot of grapvine, so I gathered some. Then I stuck them in a pot and tied at a couple crucial places with green garden tie. Well, it looks super ghetto. Of course it doesn’t help that the pot it’s in is all beat up. This is a pot that usually lives beside the shed and has some snapdragons in it that I let reseed each year. It’s gotten whacked by the weedwhacker and lawnmower more than a few times, so I patched it with some duct tape. Normally I would so this to the inside of the pot, but I wasn’t going to empty the dirt out to do it. Sooooo….ghetto trellis. I pushed in a few sweet pea seeds and some more climbing nasturtium seeds. It’s still really technically before last frost, but we’ll see how they do. Usually last frost here isn’t until May 1. It gets warm before then, but the temp fluctuates a lot, so there’s still a good chance of some light frost before then. I’d like to make some more of these trellises for various things, but I need to work on making them look more “rustic” and less ghetto.

k – rest of the pics will post later this week. I know you’re waiting with anticipation! oh – quick poll question. Do my pics take forever to load? My hubby looked on his computer and they took a long time. Trying to figure out if big pics or thumbnails are better. LMK what you think in a comment, if you are so obliged.

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