Dirt Free


Pick up dirt.

This was the reminder that popped up on my phone at about four o’clock in the afternoon, by which point it was pretty moot: I’d already been schlepping dirt all day.

So, we were turning a queen sized bed frame into a queen sized flower bed. Last weekend, I installed it in the backyard and prepared the sides with plastic and the bottom with landscape fabric. All I needed to do was fill it with dirt. At sixty inches by eighty inches by twelve inches deep, I calculated that I needed to fill thirty five cubic feet with dirt. I didn’t exactly have thirty five cubic feet of dirt just lying around. (I mean, that I wasn’t already using as, say, the actual back yard) and if I decided to buy dirt from a home improvement retailer, I was going to need about eighteen bags of the stuff. And I wasn’t really sure I wanted to pay for dirt.

So we turned to Facebook marketplace. It turns out that clean fill is something that people are willing to offer up for free: they get a pool excavated or some yard work done and the dirt needs to go somewhere, so… there. Perfect. All we had to do was go pick it up. In our minivan.

We’ve hauled dirt in the minivan before. Mostly, this involves lining the back with tarps and then shoveling in as much dirt as the creaking suspension will hold, and then shoveling it back out at the other end and wheeling it, by hand, in a wheelbarrow to the backyard. And it gets EVERYWHERE. On a recent visit, my mom and my sister Bean borrowed the van to pick up furniture at IKEA and spent a LOT of time cleaning it of all the dirt left over from the first dirt adventure. So… yeah…. that lasted for a little over a week. Sorry, Mom. Sorry, Bean. I’ll be taking the van to a car wash tomorrow to give it an apologetic once-over to try to make up for it.

But we got dirt!

It turns out that the van’s suspension can hold enough dirt to fill a queen sized bed frame about three quarters of the way full. We decided we could buy the rest- first of all because it would only be about six to eight bags, and second, because we did want some good planting topsoil on top anyway. We ended up getting four bags of garden soil, which seemed to do the trick.

Now all we have to do is figure out what to plant in it.

I’m moving away from the idea of grass, which was my initial impulse, simply because it would be too hard to mow. While at the home improvement store, browsing the plant/garden department, the word ‘Perennial’ caught my eye and stuck in my mind. My mom has a perennial garden: all plants that come back year after year instead of needing to be replanted. This sounded just about perfect to me.

Upon researching perennials that would grow well in Southern California in full sunshine in a raised bed with a minimum of coddling (because they’re going to need to be pretty hardy to survive my gardening instincts) I recognized several of the top recommendations as flowers from my wedding bouquet. The more I researched, the more flowers I discovered were perennial, or at least biannual, and which liked full sun and which would grow pretty readily in Southern California: Ranunculus, Gerbera Daisies, Kangaroo Paw, Indian Paintbrush, Chinese Lanterns, Silver Dollars…. This, it seemed to me, was as good a theme for a perennial garden as I could think of: an ever growing wedding bouquet.

So, I still need to lay out a plan and figure out what I have space for, but I feel like I’ve struck upon a concept that I can get behind.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on February 3, 2018.

2 Responses to “Dirt Free”

  1. Be careful with Chinese Lantern, it spreads like crazy and will take over if you let it.

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