July 03, 2008

How to move a mountain of mulch and live to tell about it.

Having moved to a pretty large piece of property with very little landscaping, The Bob and I decided to take on a couple of projects designed to improve the curb appeal of our 1970s ranch.

The previous owners were just about having a lawn. So the front yard was devoid of anything other than the 5-6 huge, towering oak trees. Beautiful, but a pain to mow around. We like "laaaandscaping" - well thought out areas with shrubs, hardscape, and perennials.

We consulted with a landscape designer who was recommended by a friend. The deal was, for a minimal fee, the designer would come out, look over the property, and give us some ideas, a layout, and a plant list. We would do the work ourselves. The Bob was dubious about this, but after it's all said and done he truly saw the benefit of getting just a little advice from a pro. We personalized it somewhat, but followed the basic plan and it worked.

The two projects we decided to do this year were a large, more formal shrub and perennial bed to frame our front porch, and a HUGE, kidney shaped "mulch bed" that encircles three of the big trees in the front yard. Better for mowing, he said.

A mountain - two pickup loads - of mulch was needed to cover these two areas, which we had delivered. The first day moved the mulch in a wheelbarrow with shovels. It was hard, backbreaking work, but I didn't think there was any alternative. My magic wand was on the fritz. The next day when I mentioned to my friend how badly my back hurt, he asked why didn't I borrow his mulch fork. MULCH FORK? Well, my friend is as particular as I am about most things, and seems to be a semi-pro at do-it-yourself. I decided to take his advice.

I purchased mine from Lowes and let me tell you, it's the best $35-ish dollars I've spent on a tool in a long time. I could not for the life of me figure out how this was going to work, though. To me it looked like eating soup with a fork. But, it worked, easily moving a large quantity of mulch and making it a cinch to spread... just shake it a little and the mulch falls where you want it.

In case you think this tool is a one-hit wonder, guess again. We have used it to move piles of leaves and weeds, and it will be useful for stirring compost piles. I am sure that's just the short list of uses we'll find for it around the King Ranch.

If you are doing any landscaping in the near future, run, don't walk, to your nearest garden center and pick up a mulch fork. Find out for yourself what it feels like to move mountains!

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