Dirty Killer Cover-Up

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Don’t worry, we aren’t turning this blog into a conspiracy page. This aptly named post is about bringing our levels back to dirt by removing all the weeds and then using some lumber paper to cover the levels until next year to ensure we have killed all the weeds. We plan to grow a lot of food in these new beds, so we don’t want to be using any sort of weed kill in them, but would like to do our best to kill the weeds down to the root if possible so that we can minimize our weeding next year.

Since building the walls, we have had a mix of warm but wet weather, resulting in prime conditions for all of the plants in the yard to grow hearty and fast. The only problem is that the weeds in the yard have also grown quick and fast. Our neighbour had told us about free lumber paper that you can get from most lumber yards. He had been using it instead of buying landscaping fabric and swore by it. It would suffocate the weeds and doesn’t let any water through (unless there are holes from the lumber). Since it is free, we figured we might as well give it a go and see if we could use it to cover our new beds. We had thought about using it for our walls, but we want the water to be able to flow through the walls, so we stuck with the commercial landscaping fabric which slowly releases water.

I headed over to a lumber store close to our house to pickup some wood I needed for some projects, and decided to see if they had any of the lumber paper. One bin had already been emptied, but a second bin was full to the brim. I didn’t want to be greedy, so I only grabbed 3 to begin with, hoping that I would only need that many to cover the 3 levels. Worst case scenario, I will just have to go back and grab some more later.

K had already back-filled the lowest one, so that was easy to fill. There was very few weeds on that level, so it only took a few minutes to get it ready to cover. I had forgotten how wide the bottom level is. It is a fantastic size bed and is going to allow for a lot of growing space, but it took 1-3/4 of the 3 lumber sheets to cover it completely. Not a problem, the other two beds are thinner, so I was hoping that I could just halve the last sheet and it would fit.

The second level up needed quite a bit more weeding. Half of the level was overgrown. It also needed to be mostly back-filled. Again K had already done some of it when I was building the walls because the one corner was a sand-pit and kept eroding. We needed to get it backfilled quickly so that it didn’t erode under our wall. That was a little stressful, but we managed and was successful in backfilling with a more solid fill that will hopefully stabilize that section a bit. The backfilling did take me a little bit, but at least it was close enough to the pile of fill K had created when he dug the terraces, that I didn’t need to haul the cart up the path. Hauling dirt or anything up our path is strenuous and unpleasant, especially by yourself.

Once the level was weeded and backfilled, I laid out the lumber sheets. It was beginning to look like I would have enough for the last level. I was hopeful. I was however, running out of large rocks to hold the lumber paper down. Luckily my brain was on point this day and suggested that I use the posts to hold down the one side. We had left a little extra post so that we can add the wood caps, but haven’t done it yet. So I cut an “X” in the paper over the posts and slid it into place. I was still worried about wind getting under it and lifting it off the posts, so I checked to see if any of the wire had been bent back, and luckily it had been. My laziness when finishing the walls had paid off as I was able to bend the wire back and fold it over the paper to hold it on the post. Worked like a charm. Sometimes laziness pays off later….apparently!

Once I had finished the second level, it was getting hot and I wasn’t into frying while finishing the last wall. It needed to be fully weeded and had the most established weeds of all the levels. It also needed a lot of backfilling, which would mean hauling the cart up and down the path. The whole thing seemed daunting so I left it for my future self to deal with. What a jerk. Ha!

A few days later, K and I decided to weed the whole yard. Anywhere we didn’t want to use the weed whacker. So we weeded the path, the last level that we had to backfill, around all the plants, in our raised beds and on the steeper upper section above the path. It was a good couple hours of work, and a good reminder of why we were covering those levels. By the time we were done, I wasn’t interested in hauling the dirt up the path and neither was K. So we left it again for our future selves.

I was then offered the opportunity to work in the office for a few weeks instead of from home. One of the people in another area had decided to take a months leave of absence, so I offered to cover her position while still doing my own job. Unfortunately, this meant that my option of making my own hours for the next month was no longer in place, and yard work would have to wait until I got home from work, in the absolute hottest time of the day. I was cursing lazy past-me.

Well, I had a really productive day at work, got home and the weather was mild, with some decent shade in most of the yard, and so I got to backfilling that final wall. The weeds were just starting to try to come back, so it was best to just get it done, otherwise I would be stuck completely weeded the level again. I love that we have a sloped back-yard because of the aesthetic of it, and the way we have landscaped it. But when it comes to actually doing the landscaping I curse the slope and wish that I had a nice flat yard. K wasn’t home from work, so it was just me, our wagon, a shovel and some determination. After about 10 loads of dirt, all my determination was gone, and I was a sweaty, exhausted mess. Unfortunately, that is exactly when K got home and I only had one, maybe two more loads to do. So, I sucked it up and got it done. K had offered to help me finish it later in the evening, but I just wanted to get it finished.

But my work wasn’t done, even after the level was filled. I still needed to run the lumber paper along the level. Unfortunately, I ran just short, only covering 3/4 of the bed. It widens out just slightly at the top, so I will need to get one more sheet of the lumber paper. Although, I may grab a few so that we can lay it out in the angular bed above the path as well. We will be planting flowers or something there, so we might as well kill off all the weeds there as well. So far, the lumber paper has been working great. The bottom two levels have been on for about 2 weeks now, and there is nothing coming up or through. And the water definitely just sits on top and does not work its way through, so if you are looking for a quick and cheap solution to kill weeds or to use instead of expensive landscaping fabric, check with your local lumber yard to see if they give-away the paper that is used around the pallets while they are in transit.

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