Washing rocks (no, that’s not a euphemism)

On Saturday I resolved to clean up the “plant bed”** at the front of the house where we removed the big ugly bushes (See entry: 12/15/2006 Clearing (yard) clutter).
Here’s a cruddy before picture:
Note the dappled grey/green/white “plant bed”.
When I was about half way into the project Marc came into the front yard from the back yard (he was working on his own project)
Marc: “Babe, what are you doing?”
Me (Chirping cheerfully): “Washing rocks!”
Marc: “Are you serious?”
Me: “Of course I’m serious! Come here and admire my ingenuity!”

Keep in mind I have no green thumb. In fact, I have no yard-related skills at all beyond the ability to mow in reasonably straight lines. My plant related activities with the house to this point have been:

  • Kill cactus in back yard (on purpose)
  • Kill cactus in front yard (on purpose)
  • Transplant ferns to back yard. Kill ferns (through a combination of zero human attention and too much canine attention) (accidental)
  • Cut down yucca in front and back yard (truthfully Gunther and Marc did this.. but I was an agent of the destruction.. I told them I wanted it done)(on purpose)
  • Cut down pine tree in front yard and make it into a Christmas tree (on purpose)

Before we bought the house I was an apartment dweller and then a house renter. The last house I rented… let’s just say that I let the yard go to seed until it was utterly embarassing.. and then hired a gardner to clean it up just before I moved out (best $75 I’d spent that year).
So I’ve never been faced with this kind of problem before. That is.. landscaping rocks that are lost under all the schmutz and weeds.
The big ugly bushes had been there for years and years. When we removed them we found that they had dropped -tons- of dead dry needles. The “plant bed” is lined in sparkly white rock. Over the eons that the bushes had been there, time and the elements had managed to turn the dropped needles into dirt. Dirt that interleaved the sparkly white rock. Dirt that was sufficient to support weed growth. Weed growth that was UNACCEPTABLE! Weed growth that made our house look like an abandoned experiement in horticulture… or someones “really bad idea”. So it had to be fixed.
So keeping our parameters in mind (Dirty rocks, weeds in rocks, no knowledge of landscaping) I’m thrilled to share my ingenious solution to clean the “plant beds”.
Reasoning that plants float in water.. and dirt settles lower in water than rocks.. I set a washtub of water on the incline so one end was lower than the other.. then I ran the hose into the washtub. I would grab a large handful of rocks out of the “plant bed” and drop it in the washtub… then stir it around until all of the plant material floated off the low-end of the tub. Then grab the rocks out of the high end of the tub and put them back into the “plant bed”.
I got about half way done with one side of the walkway (before my hands got too frozen to work). I figure I’ll just keep plugging away at it on the weekends until I’m back to having shiny white “plant beds”.
Then maybe I’ll consider adding plants.
** I keep saying “plant bed” in quotes because I’m pretty sure that at this point there are -NO- actual plants in the “plant bed”. But I can’t think of a better name for it.

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