Landscaping Blitz

It’s with an aching body that I sit down to write this entry. I’ve made a lot of progress landscaping over the week. In fact, pretty much everything I had planned on doing is done, aside from actually planting oodles of vegetables.

Last weekend the landscaper from whom I planned to order dirt came by to look around and figure out how much dirt I would actually need to turn my mountain of clay into a fruitful little slice of Eden. I also asked him about ordering some sod to plant a small patch of lawn that will serve as the BBQ headquarters of the yard. It was arranged that everything would be delivered on Friday.

So I came home from work Friday evening and was happy to see several large piles of hatake (rice paddy) dirt filling up my yard. I ordered five 4-ton truck loads, but really had no idea how much that was — it was just the amount that the landscaper recommended. Turns out his estimate was spot on.

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It also turns out that I underestimated how much work it’s going to be turning my yard into a mini-farm and maintaining it. This is a wholly different undertaking than the gardens I’ve had over the past few years, where I was borrowing land that already had nice dirt in it, and a nice old man always used his tiller to churn up my dirt for me each spring. But once I get all this prep work done I should have a good foundation and plenty of room to have both summer and winter crops going in a pretty hefty volume.

The prospect of lumping dirt around my yard compelled me to get up at seven yesterday morning. It was heavenly actually, sipping my coffee between wheelbarrow loads and listening to the Red Sox in the background. But I still had a bunch of dirt left when I had to turn my attention to other things in the afternoon.

After a boozy night and sleeping in to the hedonistic hour of 8:30 this morning, I was back at it. Slowly but surely the pile leveled out and finally I was left with some massive, deep beds. I’ll treat them with some lime and fertilizer, maybe some chicken poop, and let them sit for a few weeks. Tilling all that stuff in by hand should be a total pleasure. Then they’ll be ready to plant right around Golden Week.

Here’s the front yard.

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My friend will be using the side yard this summer.

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A few of the whole spread, with small child for scale.

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And I mentioned sod before. The landscaper called earlier in the week to say he would deliver the sod, along with some river sand to spread underneath (easier than chiseling the hardened clay level), earlier than the dirt. So I was able to bang that out during the week. Sod in Japan comes in little square, not the rolls that I was used to in America. There were some pretty suspect pieces in my order, with virtually no dirt attached to the underside of the grass. Hopefully everything will take, but if some of it dies it’s easy enough to pick up a few extra pieces. I cut out a circle in the middle of the lawn where the grill will sit. In a month or so I’m hoping everything will be solid enough underfoot to grilling away.

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It’s so cool to be getting things set up as I had envisioned while we were building the house. Realizing the dream baby! Hope everyone’s having a good weekend.

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10 thoughts on “Landscaping Blitz

  1. That looks like a lot of work, glad it didn’t rain on you or it would have been pure misery. I would recommend getting the soil tested for heavy metals or other contaminants just to be sure, as you’re planning to feed children out of it (they are more susceptible to neurological damage) and if the rice paddy it came from got runoff from the road anything could be in there – I saw too many paddies that I really, really didn’t want to eat out of while in Kanazawa, including one that was temporarily blue after someone spray-painted over a runoff grate. If you can’t find an agricultural testing service in Japan we could work it out to have you mail it to me and I could get the Purdue extension here do it, though pretty much any state’s extension service does it for a nominal fee. Don’t want to rain on your parade, especially after all that hard work, but I do recommend getting the test done soon. I was raised by professional horticulturalists and they sampled our own dirt repeatedly to make sure the places we were planting food were clean because you just can’t be sure who did what before you got there.

    Lee

  2. Good to hear from you Lee, and thanks for the tip. I’ll look into getting the soil checked out. It looks clean, but as you said, you never know what could be in there. Hope all is going well with you guys.

    1. Wish my house was as far along as yours – we ripped out a bathroom where the pipes leaked behind the walls and haven’t quite managed to get the shower back in yet three months later. Getting tired of showering at the gym. Graduate student life and priorities (papers come before bathrooms). Enjoy the sakura.

      1. Yes, one of the many benefits of building a new house…I (hopefully) won’t be ripping anything out in the near future.

    1. Thanks Lee. Wow, two Lees commenting on the same post! I’ll be planting all the normal veggies and then whatever weird stuff they happen to be selling at the home center to fill up the rest of the space. I’ll make a post about that when I actually put stuff in the ground.

    1. Thanks Kevin, it’s been a while since I’ve updated this thing as well! I should make a new post though–the garden is overflowing!

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