Monday, January 23, 2006

Woodchips to End All Woodchips

Woodchips to end all woodchips

The problem with having dogs in the yard is that they (a) have 4 feet each, which (b) they use to tear up the grass and spew any mulch on ungrassy areas off to the four corners of the yard and then (c) proceed to cover all 4 (each dog) with mud from the aforementioned locations.

Two years ago (I think it was 2 years), I paid a ridiculous sum of money to a yard-supply vendor for a dumptruck full of "contractor shred" wood chips. What that meant, apparently, was that you also got thousands of bits of plastic, metal, foam, paper, painted wood, and so on. It took about a hundred faithful friends a couple of hours to haul it around to the back yard, but it caused an immediate and tremendous reduction in the quantity of mud morsels transported into my house.

However, the wood chips, being organic in that woodchippy way, have gradually decayed away, and have gradually mingled with the mud beneath, and even though I've spent a lot of time over the last couple of weeks scraping bucketsfull of extra chips from out-of-the-way places, there's just not enough.

So today they took out a couple of trees next door. The sign on the side of the chipper truck said something about free chips. "What do I need to do to get free chips?" I asked the worker next door after climbing onto a bench to peer over the fence. "Just ask," he said, grinning in an encouraging manner. "Hey," said I, "May I have some free wood chips?"

The catch was that I had to take everything in the full truck if I wanted it right then. What I could see looked very woodchippy, not much in the way of leaves and pine needles (which decay much faster and also cause the wood to break down faster and, aesthetically, don't look as good IMHO). So I said OK.

Turns out that the top 1/3 is wonderful, nearly all wood. The next third has a ton of pine needles, some places almost entirely pine needles and no wood. The last third seems to be about a half-and-half mix of leaves and wood chips. I'm afraid that I'm going to have to haul a bunch of it out to the street to be picked up by the free yard-waste pickup rather than putting it in my yard, but that's probably OK for the price I paid.

Today, in 3 separate sessions, I hauled a total of 25 cartloads of chips to the back yard. It hardly made a dent in the pile. (I think the photo shows it after about 5 cartloads have gone.) But the muddy-mulchy part of the yard is starting to look more mulchy and less muddy.

You realize, of course, that if I just had a nice, couch-potatoey kind of companion dog, I wouldn't need to do all this. But nooooo, I had to have *agility* dogs...

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