Putting up a deer fence was both an end and starting point. It was the end of the carnage by the deer. If the snow didn’t save them from deer last winter, any remaining plants got chewed up in the spring or died during the rainless July this summer. But now we can start anew. Out of the 70 or so plants we put in last year, 45 were gone and needed to be replaced. Then another 40 needed to be put in around the building and walls now that work was finished.
So many of the plants we had installed last year had been reduced to dead twigs. Because hay instead of straw had been put down to control erosion, we had a big crop of rye grass and associated weeds, which was not the fescue we needed to plant for the back yard.
A backhoe was brought in to remove the sod and grade the area so that water would run away from the building and into a trench leading to the wetlands. Two knee walls were constructed earlier to ensure that the run off would not drain into a patio area.
Mark, the operator, had a wonderfully light touch as he delicately scraped the old sod away and replaced it with new topsoil. He was able to just pull away the right amount of soil with a huge steel arm as a child would run her fingers through the sand. Within a few hours, the area was ready for seeding.
While Mark was working on getting the back ready for a lawn, I with a bunch of landscapers started to plant all the different trees and bushes: American Cranberry, Inkberry, Winterberry, Swamp Azalea, Mountain Laurel, High and Low Bush blueberry, Elderberry, Gray and Red-Osier Dogwood and Spirea were just the beginning. Planting was bittersweet as for almost every plant I positioned another needed to be yanked and discarded. I now understand why professional landscapers around here choose such large specimens: more survival chances against man and beast. In a few cases, I needed to direct the laborers not to step on Witch Hazel saplings, indicating that they were not sticks but rather living plants.
Soon the lawn was ready for seeding. I have had 100 pounds of fescue seed in my basement for 5 months waiting for this moment. Ironically this was the last possible day (October 12) that I could plant: the next week or so looked warm so that the seeds would have the needed sun and temperatures for germination. Rain looked imminent so we worked quickly smoothing out the soil, broadcasting the seed and then spreading shredded straw over the area to hold the seed and erosion. We had just enough seed and straw to finish the job.
As we started to put away the tools it began to rain. Not heavy, but a steady soft rain that would moisten the soil and give the grass, transplanted trees and bushes a good start. I thanked all the people who helped me, loaded my shovels, pick ax and rakes into the car happy that we had finally finished the back area before the bad weather hits.