My wife and I have two sports we spend a lot of time doing. One is whitewater kayaking and the other is pickleball. So far this year we have had two whitewater kayaking outings cancelled (along with a lot of practicing at our local river) and two pickleball vacations cancelled. So, what to do during the shutdown?

Landscaping! I am spending a lot of time on our landscaping try8ing to make sure that the weeds don’t take over. If you are bored, give it a shot. It seems a lot of people in my areas have had the same idea.

So, the title of this blog is “The Adventurous Boomer.” You may ask – is landscaping is an adventure? In Texas, it can be. It seems that everything you don’t want to grow, and everything you want to remove, has thorns – thorns that can go right through your gloves and your jeans.

Anyway, this post is about the landscaping we have been doing during the shutdown. It is also partially about the law of unintended consequences.

For the past ten years or so we have had 8 trees surrounding our swimming pool. Ever spring the oak pollen would practically turn the pool water yellow. It was as if some giant stood over the pool and urinated into it. I had to clean the filter every week it was so bad. Well, I got tired of it and had the trees removed.

That worked great – no leaves, no pollen and fewer bugs. I was down to cleaning the filter about once a month, if that.

But then – the law of unintended consequences. There is a path that runs behind our pool, a path wide enough to drive a pickup down. I used to go to the recycling center in New Braunfels to get a few truckloads of mulch and spread them on the path. Yes, it was a pain in the neck, but I enjoyed the smell of fresh cedar.

But then, because there was so much sunlight on the path, the weeds seemed to say, “Thank you Mr. Hansen for taking away the trees.” Now I have to mow the path. This picture shows only a small portion of it.

See all the rocks on the left? I hauled them from all over the property to build a small wall. Now they, too, are covered in weeds and I have to weed-whack them.

Speaking of weeds, they seem very happy to have a lot of sunlight, too. Here is a section of the back garden that is not necessarily weed-free, but not covered in wees as it is now.

It’s not all bad news, though. I listened to “Science Friday” on NPR last week and they were discussing the benefits to nature of the coronavirus shutdown. There is much less pollution in the air so the bees and hummingbirds are having a field say. It seems that pollution disturbs their sense of smell, so they can’t always find their way to pollen. It also seems that many of the plants are benefiting as well. The picture below is of a set of roses that are blooming better than they ever have.

So, this leads to a discussion of how I have been spending the shutdown. I have bought plastic sheeting, am clearing out the weeds section by section, putting down the plastic sheeting and covering the sheeting with mulch. The wees will get no sunlight and, therefore, will be able to grow (I hope). I tried “weed barrier” in the past, but the only barrier that create is a barrier to your ability to prevent weeds. Essentially it is useless.

Here are some pictures of areas I have done.

This is a small area where we are growing butternut squash. You can’t see them, but there are drip irrigation heads by the plants. The drip irrigation, installed by Donna, runs throughout the entire back area. We first grew butternut squash by mistake – a seed from our compost heap sprouted where I had planned on something else. Eventually it sent out runners that were 20 feet long.

This is an area of tiger lilies. There used to be so many weeds that you could barely see them. They have bloomed already, but may bloom again.

This is a cherry tomato plant. This year, because we will most likely be home when the plants produce, we actually planted a couple. In the past few years we decided not to because we were away.

Here are the first cherry tomatoes!

This is a Vitex plant. It, too, is normally surrounded by weeds and can have thorny vines on it. This looks much better.

So, I have a few more areas to do, including the blackberry patch (thorny!). When everything is done, I’ll post some more pictures.

By the way, all of the mulch and sheeting has totaled to less than $200. Worth every penny.