Taming The Jungle 2013: Offensive Manuevers

Last year I found out that Liberty house is a specific combination of a lot of effing property and a lot of effing buildings that makes it difficult to keep the yard from becoming a jungle.

I mean, I’ve owned houses before, and I’ve owned property before, but last year was the first season of my life that I was solely and personally responsible for mowing a shitload of grass. And weeding. And letting the back field grow wild because I didn’t know what the hell else to do with it.


So my first year was what, if we’re being nice, we’ll call a “learning experience.” A learning experience in which my 85 year old grandmother mowed my lawn and kicked my butt at weeding

And listen, I may be the kind of person who perpetually has dirty dishes in her sink, I’m okay with that, but I really love a well-landscaped property. I like awesome garden beds and fresh cut grass, and I’ll be dammed if I won’t have them this year.

But, it’s clear that this isn’t something that just happens if you’ve got a job and a house and a blog and half a dozen farm animals to take care of, with just hour of time here and there to spare. Keeping a yard– especially out in the country– from becoming a jungle? That’s a full fledged battle. One that requires a plan of attack.

My plan looks something like this:

  1. Get it under control before it gets out of control
  2. Use what you’ve got
  3. Hire help
  4. Drink beer

In the last week we just started seeing green around these parts and my “get it under control” warning bells started going off. Loudly. The very first thing I did was to go out an buy a year-long weed killer (because my grandma, the Master Gardner, told me to)…


The first thing to tackle around here all the walkways and driveways, which are not insignificant.


I bought a “for real” sprayer this year, and this thing is life-changing. No more of those piddly-ass Roundup jugs with the pump.

The paver walkways on the front and back of the house both got doused, as did the expansion joints in the driver.


I still need to clean these areas up from last years invasion…


But, at least if there aren’t new weeds coming up, I’m not fighting a losing battle.

I’ve also got the gravel driveway to tackle with some sort of weed killer, and some green things have been appearing in the flower beds, and I’m not sure if they’re flowers or weeds at this point. (I’m so good at gardening.)

The good news on the lawn front, however, is that I’ve got a couple of guys living with me who can help with the mowing now…


They won’t be able to keep it all trimmed, but once I get the permanent pasture fence up (starting this weekend) it should cut the mowing in half. And after last year, I’m seriously considering hiring help for the other half so that I can spend that time working in the actual gardens.

And then, then, when the grass is cut, and the donkeys are full, and my flowers are blooming? Then I’m going to have a beer. Right here.


18 Responses

  1. Now that spring is finally arriving, you’ve got to take more pictures of your property! It significantly helps the vicarious thrills of those of us who dream of farms but are still stuck in city apartments =)

    Just make sure you include the cold beer somewhere in the “vista from the picnic table shot”!

  2. Wow! Your property looks GORGEOUS. And you know what, you’re helping the local economy by hiring a 16 year old boy to mow your lawn. We did that a few times last year before we owned a lawn mower (granted, in Lansing, with our size yard, it was like $10 to have him mow our lawn) but it certainly will make your life easier!

  3. Same battle here! We bought a house well into summer last year, and it completely defeated us. I spent an evening this week pulling random weeds from the back patio, and to my dismay, they were back in two days before I could spread the sand. I see weed killer in my future as well.

  4. Yep, that’s a lot to have to take care of!! Have you considered getting a goat or two? Not joking – they seem to be a great option for weeding.

  5. Same battle here too. The property was already in rough shape last year, and it only got worse as we focused all of our attention on renos inside. Mowing was limited to a couple of circuits around the house, two passes on either side of the driveway and one path down to the pond. I would really like to hire some professional help to keep it under control, but I think I might also need help to get it under control in the first place. My favourite idea so far is a controlled burn, but I don’t know where to start with that, and I’d really like to not light the whole property on fire.

  6. I LOVE to mow our yard! We upgraded mowers this year and it is so relaxing to mow! Just put in the earbuds, grab a drink and go to town! I’m actually a little disappointed that it only takes me an hour and a half to mow the 2 acres!

  7. HAha, I’m in a similar boat except I’ve had my house for two summer and let the lawn go just crazy. BUT this year is the year! My warning bells have been going off as well with the hints of green. This morning I dragged by ass outside and managed to de-thatch, edge and seed bald spots in my front yard before work. Feels great…well expect my body which feels abused.

  8. Goats are good at keeping the grass down. Often you can get gelded boy goats cheap/ free because they are only used for meat.

  9. I’m often envious of your beautiful property and my mind runs wild with the possibilities. Fruit trees! Beekeeping! Greenhouse! But I also have an older house that needs a lot of attention, a full time job, and four kids, and i just know a huge yard would be the death of me. Right now I’m mowing with a $10 garage sale mower. When it kicks the bucket I’ll invest in a good reel mower and kick the gas-powered habit. It really is small enough I can do it that way. I’ll just live vicariously through you on the rest.

  10. I can’t wait to get in the house I bought. (Close next week). One reason I bought it was to get back in a yard and it needs help as does the inside. I am actually going to hire help on some things even though it goes against the grain.

  11. One option is to get rid of some of that lawn and replace it with native grasses and wildflowers — grow your own awesome meadow. It’s better for the environment, because native critters and plants have habitat, you are not burning fossil fuels to mow, doesn’t require chemicals to maintain, and hey! more time for beer.

    And we all know that anything that leaves more time for beer has to be a good thing!

    (I have a decent sized suburban yard and I spent all winter dreaming of ways to covert grass to flowers and no-mowing-needed ground covers without breaking stupid HOA rules.)

    1. I soooo agree on that sentiment regarding the native grasses & wildflowers, and most importantly the elimination of toxic chemicals! Need to keep Kit & her beautiful farm animals healthy, with the added bonus of a gorgeous, lower-maintenance backdrop (more time for building stuff, and less plague(s) to recover from!!). 🙂

      1. P.S. – A non-toxic weed killer alternative is vinegar (super cheap!)…vinegar has a ton of wonderful cleaning uses inside the house, too, in place of toxic cleaning chemicals.

        1. I totally appreciate the sentiment, currently 4 acres of my property is all “field” that only gets mowed twice a year but around here the field also attracts predators like coyotes which I am interested in keeping as far from the house, donkeys, and chickens as possible.

          Last year I tried to be more “natural” in my control of the weeds, lawn, garden, etc… that may work if you have a small plot of land in the city OR a lot of time to devote to it, but it doesn’t work for what I need and the time I have available. (For example, I didn’t want to spray chemicals on the gravel driveway last year, and now I’m going to have to buy about 20 tons of gravel to recover it since there’s no returning from the mess that took over it.)

          I’m a big fan of companion planting, and I don’t intend to spray pesticides in the donkey pasture or all over my vegetable garden, but I think going “chemical free” is a personal choice that will work for some people, but not for the entirety of my property and what I’m trying to achieve here.

  12. Sorry if this is a dumb question but I am having sprayer issues…my sprayer was cheap tho – maybe $10.00 – do you think that makes a difference? How much was yours?

  13. I think I need to give in and buy some weed killer. I only have one tiny fraction of what you have but it takes a lot of time to pull weeds out of the gravel.

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