Eric and I went out to clean up the yard last night. Specifically, to clean up the mess the contractors left behind after fixing the driveway. We’re pleased with the driveway itself, but not with anything else they did, like telling my mother-in-law about their plans rather than, say, me…or leaving furrows on either side of the driveway while taking away our dirt…or dumping trash all over our backyard. I acknowledge that the trash was ours, or rather the previous owners’–it was drywall they had laid down in the garage, presumably to soften the bumps caused by the cracked surface–but they took all our dirt away, couldn’t they have taken the drywall? Or at least not thrown it all over the grass the way they did?

At any rate, we put all the trash out (turns out the contractors ate Wendy’s for lunch the days they were here) and moved the retaining wall they had seen fit to disassemble and scatter across our front lawn. We moved the old roots they had presumably unearthed and dumped on our grass. We considered how much dirt we’ll need to fill in the furrows, and that we probably need to do it before the next heavy rain.

“We need some landscaping before we try to sell this place,” Eric observed as we looked around. He’s right, which is bad for our pocketbook but good for my gardening practice. There are holes where I moved things or, in one case, where the previous owners had had a completely useless stand of concrete that the contractors took out. There are spots where my plants have been killed, dug up or buried by the contractors. There are spots I plan to lay bare (i.e., the mosquito bush by our front porch), and spots where I don’t have to but really ought to dig out some plants. There’s the lilac bush that’s coming down in the spring, once I’ve gathered cuttings enough to appease my in-laws.

Plus there’s this narrow strip of ground between our garage and the fence separating us from the neighbors. It had been blocked by the old garbage can that the garbage people wouldn’t take and two propane tanks, but we moved those since we were doing all this cleanup anyway. (Eric took delight in jumping on the old can to make it look dilapidated enough for the garbage people to take.) “What should we do with this?” Eric wondered, gazing at its thistle-infested length.

I was ashamed; the neighbors have been having parties in their backyard all summer, and the cracked and peeling paint on the garage was bad enough for them to look at without a section of pestilent weeds. (Why couldn’t the bindweed have gotten that far along the fence? It did everywhere else.) “Spray with Round-Up and lay down gravel?” I said.

“Sounds good to me,” Eric said. “We can get some when we get the dirt. And a drum of Round-Up. What do you think? Spray the grass, plant Eco-Lawn in the spring?” I foresee us spending a lot of time at Home Depot and Andersons in the near future.

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