Status reports

10 Nov: No students came out for Yardwork Thursday — but it was pretty cold! Continued weeding the last section of Bed 8. Perhaps one more session and it’ll be done.

2 Nov: Mrs Greco and I worked on the Bed 1 edge along the front courtyard. The weeds that had regrown were removed and then mulch (about a 3-in layer) was put down. It looks quite nice now – very civilised. The edge facing the parking lot will be done next.

19 Oct: Mrs Greco pruned back the shrubs at the back side of the parking lot spaces out front. Then she began working through the weeds in Beds 3 and 4.

15 Oct: A little more weeding of section 4 in Bed 8, while working at the Double Fundraiser (E-waste + used clothing) that day.

13 Oct: Thursday student yard work session. Two new students came out and we worked on section 4 and 5 of Bed 8. They went to work, pulling out the tall weeds, while I came in behind and went after what was left. In an hour, we had almost finished section 4, leaving just a small patch of weeds in section 5. Very good progress indeed!

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6 Oct: Thursday student yard work session. There were 4 students who came out and worked in two teams, one with me in the long bed (Bed 8) and the other working on weeding the interlock in front of Beds 3 and 4. We worked on Section 3 of the long bed, pulling the shallow-rooted new weeds, digging deep for the grass roots, and pruning dead branches from the junipers. After an hour and a half — success! The 3rd section of the bed has now been cleared! Along with Section 2, the ground is ready for fresh soil, which will be turned over to mix with the old, raked smooth, and then it’s time to plant the remaining Stella d’Oros and surround with mulch!

5 Oct: Mrs Greco again worked on three separate beds. Bed 9 has been weeded and fresh mulch put down, so it’s ready to face the winter. She next began working on Beds 3 and 4, which are across from the main courtyard. These beds each have two small patches of daffodils in spring but otherwise, are choked with weeds of all kinds! It’ll take a while to clear them; plans for what to put in them haven’t yet been formed. They may well be the focus of next year’s yard work.

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29 Sept: In the morning, Mrs Greco worked in three separate beds! Bed 1 now has creeping thyme plants along the whole front edge. The next bed, Bed 2, has not been touched this summer, until now. It’ll take some time, but she made some good in-roads on the tall weeds in that one. Bed 5, at the traffic circle, now also looks a great deal better. See the before/after shots of these last two beds!

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Thursday student yard work session: Only one student came out. She worked on the weeds coming up through the interlock in the path between Beds 3 and 4 (the other side of the front lane, across from Bed 2). She then came and joined me, slowly weeding through the rest of section 2 of the long bed (Bed 8). And by 5 o’clock, we had finished! Very satisfying to see that large swath of dark earth! Photos pending.

22 Sept: Worked on Bed 1 with Mrs Greco in the morning. She continued weeding along the parking lot edge while I continued pruning the dogwood along the windows. We filled 5 yard waste bags! She also brought a large clump of creeping thyme which I divided into 7 plants and put along the courtyard/front edge of the bed. She’ll bring more next week. We’re hoping it will take and start to fill in the border.

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Thursday student yard work session: Only one student came out but she made good progress picking up the fallen fruit from the crab apples. While she did that, I worked on the next section of Bed 8, deep forking to get at the remaining grass roots and removing the surface weeds. Most all of that section is now done, ready for soil. Much-needed rain is forecast for this evening and tomorrow.

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… yes, there are a lot of new weeds in the remaining 3 sections of Bed 8. But. For the most part, they’re shallow-rooted weeds and won’t be hard to remove. I promise 🙂

19/21 Sept: Still with birches in Bed 1: pruned all the lower branches hanging down on the 2nd birch (closest to the office windows). Also began pruning the dogwood along the windows, as well as removing dead branches. Pruned out dead branches from junipers in the same area. Weeded the ground exposed after pruning back the shrubs.

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15 Sept: Worked with Mrs Greco, weeding the front edge of Bed 1, down to the corner; also pruned the birch tree, so that its lovely white branches are visible again. Photos pending.

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11 Sept: Cleaned up the Grad Garden (Bed 6). Deadheaded the central blue delphinium (spread the seeds in a semi-circle around its base — maybe we’ll get lucky and have new plants start up next spring!). Once that was done, the new fall blooms were much easier to see — very nice! Removed dead and damaged leaves  — both from the summer drought and probably slugs — from the hostas. Deadheaded the two overgrown clumps of wooly lambs’ ear — which then also reduced their spread.

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10 Sept: It’s done! The demonstration area (about 1/4 of the long bed) has now been planted! A final 18 plant clumps (many of them doubled up — a larger + a smaller one) and 3 bags of mulch to finish off around the tree. Yeah! Now we just have to keep people from walking right through it all! Yup — I kid you not — there were footprints embedded in the mulched areas this morning …

But wait, there’s more 🙂 Mrs Ballard came and started deep forking the next section. So we’re keeping the ball rolling!

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Starting to dig up the next section

9 Sept: Put in another 15 plants and used 5 bags of mulch. That just leaves a small central area around the tree — one more session should do it. And then maybe the human and dog tracks in the dirt will stop …

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Using boards to avoid making footprint-craters

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More plants and mulch, less empty space

8 Sept: It’s begun! Planted 19 Stella d’Oros (from 8 pots) and used 9 bags of mulch around them. The plants are along the 3 curb sides of the demonstration area, closest to the front courtyard, roughly 30 inches apart. The central part of the area will be planted over the next few days.

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5 Sept: Dug new soil into demonstration area (Bed 8); still finding deep grass roots! Raked area smooth, ready for planting.

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New soil’s now all dug in and the bed raked smooth

2 Sept: Carried on weeding along the front strip of Bed 1; weeds are really thick but with shallow roots, so they’re easy to pull out.

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For a change of pace, let’s weed the front edge on this bed!

1 Sept: Weeded and cleaned up dead growth in the Grad Garden (Bed 6); removed weeds from interlock, along front edge of Bed 1.

ALSO: first steps to finishing off the long bed (Bed 8): new soil brought in (1 cu yd) (yeah!!) and spread out on the courtyard side of the bed, till the maple tree. This is the demonstration area mentioned at the end of the 27 August entry (below).

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27 August: We’ve done it! For the first time since it was created 7 years ago, the long bed (Bed 8) has been weeded from one end to the other.

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Yes, there are new sprouts in the area first tackled on 6 August, and yes, there are a few valiant tall grasses coming back. But these are easily dealt with, as we can now, at long last,
proceed to the next phase in getting this bed to its final maintenance level.

ALL the volunteers — students and parents alike — who have come out on one or more Saturdays in August have had a hand in achieving this goal. You should all be very proud of your part — I thank every single one of you!

Today’s volunteers (7 students, 2 parents) not only finished off the last remaining islands of weeds and grass, but also tended to a number of other tasks, with the overall result of having tamed the long bed:

  • 2 more dead juniper shrubs were removed (for a total of 5)
  • removed weeds outside the long bed:
    — between the interlock bricks around the long bed
    — along the base of the 3 remaining curbs of the long bed
    — along the base of Bed 7 (2 sides)
    — along the auditorium wall behind the long bed

The change seems small but it makes the whole area look so much more civilized!

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With the main weeding phase done (hurray — again!), we were able to start on the next step, to ensure that very few weeds and grasses come back: a thorough forking (the depth of the fork tines) to go after the deepest grass roots. Along with two of the parent volunteers, Mrs Ballard and Mr Khan, we stayed after the students had left, determined to get a decent-sized area done. And we did.

At least this area, we’ve decided, will now be brought all the way to a maintenance level, as a
demonstration of what the whole bed will look like:

  • add new soil and fork it into the existing, depleted earth
  • plant whatever Stella d’Oros are still available
  • mulch the planted area

Note: At this time, there are no more Saturday yardwork sessions planned. Instead, stay tuned to the daily announcements (on the LDHSS school website) for student opportunities after school, as well as announcements via this website page.

20 August: Wow! We made great progress today! There were 13 students and 4 adults who came out on this not-too-hot day, and we are almost done with Bed 8! And yes, there will be another session, on 26 August. Check the Gardening/yard work opportunities page for updates on that.

Before we began, it was very rewarding to see that the areas weeded two weeks ago (see 6 Aug. entry, below) showed only a bit of new weed growth — very heartening to everyone. And a perfect demonstration of why one needs to weed the whole plant, including the root.

One parent worked with a few students, pruning out the dead growth in the all the shrubs, as well as removing 2 or 3 totally dead ones. Already that has greatly improved the look of the bed!

The rest of us worked on weeding.

Most of us worked in the long bed (Bed 8), continuing on from the last session (6 August; see below for details and slideshow). Using garden forks, some students loosened the soil while others used their hand claws to get at the weeds. The deep underground runners from grass are particularly tricky to completely remove — at times it was like a contest, to see who could get the longest one 🙂

There are two small areas left to weed and then we can say that the long bed has been completely weeded, end to end! Granted, we still need to fork through the whole thing one more time, to get the last of the roots, but the end is in sight!

In addition to the main bed, some other areas were also weeded: two students worked on the nook between Beds 6 and 7 (see photo) while one of the parents made inroads
on the weeds at the base of the curb of Bed 8, as well as the top edge of Bed 1, including the stub wall at the front door area (photo). The courtyard area is looking more civilised as a result of all their work!

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13 August: Simply put — we were rained out! And what a shame — there were 23 volunteers, parents and students, who had signed up, thanks to a concerted advertising campaign by both the school council and the school admin, with both email and synervoice messages going out to all parents. It was so encouraging to see all those messages coming in … and then so discouraging to have to let everyone know the morning was off. I’d like to thank all those parents who did come by at 10am, when it looked like the rain might clear. But it didn’t, and so we all had to just turn around and go home.

On the other hand, I can’t cry too loudly — all the beds have been thoroughly soaked! The plants are looking a little less scruffy … but the weeds look completely reinvigorated! So we’ll have to work on them, starting next week, on the 20th. Keep an eye out for confirmation of that date.

6 August: 9 till noon yard work blitz! Many volunteers came out (13 students, 5 parents) to focus on weeding the long bed (Bed 8). We got over half of the job done! The clearing out of the taller weeds, done in late June, meant that new weeds were much smaller and easier to remove. With a sun shade, the weeding was much more bearable.

As well, a couple of teams went out to tend to the crab apple trees (about 16 of them), pruning suckers from the base of the trunks and removing as many dead branches as could be reached.

Another team helped get the hoses going, filling containers to bring water to Beds 5 and 9.

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11 July: re-weeded (after a month’s absence) the day lily section of Bed 5 and then added mulch. Also spread mulch around the base of the Russian sage and echinacea (about to bloom). Planted tall iris (`New Tune‘ — donation) in a crescent around the central Mugo pine.

29 June: This morning, a gr10 student and I finished the main clean-up of Bed 7! The entire concrete retaining wall is now free of any interference, ready for students to sit on, just as they can around the Grad Garden (Bed 6). The same pruning and weeding job still needs to be done to the back side of the shrubs — but for now, the bed looks very tidy, ready for gr12 convocation on the 30th.

28 June: This morning, a gr12 student worked with me for 2 hours in Bed 7. We began clearing away the overhanging and old branches of the dogwood, starting at the far/eastern end of the bed. It will take another day to finish it. Meanwhile, Ms Briggs was out, continuing to work through Bed 8.

27 June: Finally! We’re going to work on Bed 8, the `Long Bed’ at the front. This morning, Ms Briggs brought out at least 10 intermediate students, who helped clear out a lot of weeds. They were assigned specific weeds to remove — and it worked very well. A good part of the taller weeds are now gone; the rest will be pulled within the next day or so. I worked at the far east end of the bed, clearing out all the weeds and grasses to the end of 2 rows of junipers. I’ve stopped there, and will now fork the soil over, to get the remaining underlying roots. Once that’s done, this section will get new soil worked in, Stella d’Oro day lilies will be planted, and then mulch applied.

24 June: After a bit of trouble figuring out how to access the water from the new faucet by the west entrance, I got the two 50-ft hoses hooked up … and found they only took me to the southwest corner of the building (principal’s office). But at least there was water. Filled my containers from there and watered Bed 6. Will probably have to use the faucet access between the garbage lock-up and music room entrance for Bed 9.

21-23 June: Bed 5 at the traffic circle has now been weeded and cleaned up. There are some large open spaces that can now be planted — most likely sedum `Autumn Joy’ — then heavy watering and mulch. Next flowers to bloom should be the day lilies. Weeding of Bed 1 continues, pushing further back and removing the tall prickly weeds and the wild mullein (enormous fuzzy leaves).

A gr12 student needing hours was out there this morning with me. I had him start pruning the suckers and dead branches from the crab apples; he cleaned up 4 of them, along the path leading to the traffic circle.

There was also the mowing service working out in the front this morning.

14/17 June: Bed 5 has been the focus this week. Weeding is done in the central area and the west side (where the day lilies are).

3 June: Bed 9 (custodians’ window) is now complete — see updated entry. Did a bit of weeding in Bed 1 (front edge).

2 June: Bed 6 (Grad Garden) is now complete — see updated entry. Did some weeding of Bed 1 (front edge).

27 May: Entry for Bed 6 (Grad Garden) has been updated; it has been weeded and dead growth removed. Only needs mulch to be refreshed and annuals added for graduation colour.

13 May: The main triangle bed (Bed 1, west side of the entrance courtyard) has been worked about half way, from the courtyard side towards the middle. It’s probably best to not work in it as it’s difficult to distinguish weeds from spring growth of the perennials already planted. The western side has not been weeded or tidied up.

Bed 2 (just after Bed 1) has some bulbs (grape hyacinth and fritillaria) in the west half; otherwise, it hasn’t had any work done in it.

Beds 3 and 4 (across the front entry lane) have had daffodils planted in two clumps per bed; otherwise, it hasn’t had any work done in it.

The bed at the traffic circle (Bed 5) and the one under the custodians’ window (Bed 9) are like the Grad Garden — in maintenance mode, with only tidy-up and a mulch refresh needed.

The Grad Garden (Bed 6) just needs some freshening up and then colourful annuals added by late May, so there’s time for them to take hold by graduation in June.

Bed 7 has had no work done in it.

Since last summer, the weeds (mainly tall grass) have grown back in the long bed (Bed 8) along the front lane of the school. Last year’s strategy of dividing the bed into sections and then weeding from one to the next was effective, as long as work was ongoing. However, once work stopped, all the cleared spaces quickly reverted to weeds and grass. A better strategy will be used this year: as each section is cleared of weeds, its soil will be amended with new soil, and then plants put in right away, with mulch, to start taking space away from future weeds.

Bed 9, as mentioned above, is in maintenance mode.

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