For several months, I increasingly decorated my backyard with a variety of craziness. It distracted from the stress of the pandemic. Due to the lack of lumber, I tapered to mainly doing painted inset stones in the ground. It was a lot of work. While doing it, I kept reminding myself that moles could come along and ruin my work. At my last house on Cottonwood in Springdale, I fought a long war with the moles. A couple of them miraculously managed to destabilize and ruin a complex brick planter I put in the middle of the yard. The yard? It looked like a crazed man repeatedly dug for small treasures in the middle of the night. Stupidly, I resisted using bait or lethal methods to eradicate them. (The moles – not treasure-seeking older men.)
One of the catalysts for this project was that the neighbor behind me finally installed several fencing panels for his hot tub privacy. (Not that we could see in that shadowed clutter.) In most places I’ve lived, the neighbors don’t maintain their yards appropriately. I’ll agree I probably go too far in my yard minimalism. Digging and cutting brought the moles, as I figured it would. After the moles and squirrels conspired to ruin a sunflower planter I made, I moved the heavy planter and dug the back perimeter down a couple of feet in two places and filled it with concrete. It was a stop-gap fix in those limited areas. I should have thought of it as I put posts in and filled it all with a barrier a foot down into the ground. It wasn’t laziness that prevented me. I dug all the holes manually with a shovel.
In the last few weeks, the rain dried up as the squirrels and moles began their infiltration. The encroaching cold began to kill off the variety of plants.
The rich topsoil and buckets of grass seed I watered and nurtured to keep the ground clean and covered began receding with the onslaught of holes and tunnels. A few of the hefty footpath stones I inlaid began to tilt as I walked on them, even I took the time to stabilize them with sand and pea gravel. At least four times a week, I’ve had to emerge and dig out and stomp around most of the stones, leaving dried dirt instead of lush grass.
Those of you who know me also know I don’t care about manicured lawns or the even sheen of grass. All I wanted was grass to root and stay where it should be.
Finally, a couple of people whose opinions I value came by and saw the backyard. After all those months of brilliant color and vibrant plants, my yard mostly looked barren. “Prison yard” accurately captures the overall effect if the prison was inhabited by several addicted to odd colors.
The lackluster condition of my once colorful and eye-catching yard is a good lesson on entropy. Nothing holds its center. It’s a reminder to spend your time wisely and nurture what you can.
Though I didn’t resort to bait before, even as the yard looked like a grenade zone, I’ve decided to drive the moles away by any means necessary. I hate to, just as much as I hate scaring the squirrels. Squirrels have a lot of personality – but they also destroy feeders and scare off many of the birds I’m trying to attract.
For the blog, some of the previous posts about the yard are tagged “Project” or “Yard” in the drop-down menu.