We have an area all along the back of our lot that used to be the dog run. Now that we don't have dogs any more, we are in the process of making it a play area for the grands. We affectionately refer to it as Limberlost. When Bob was in grade school, he has wonderful memories of coming in after recess and listening as his teacher would read a chapter of A Girl of the Limberlost. Which, by the way, is also an old favorite of mine. So, when it came to naming our spot for the grands, it seemed like a natural -- full of sweet memories, and at the ready for a lot more to come!
Last year we had a cement pathway (all the way around it) poured, so that the kids could ride their bikes, skates, wagons, etc, around the perimeter. And then I proceeded to spend hours upon hours spraying the weeds that would pop up in the dirt area All. The. Time. We love the old orchard trees that run down the center of it, so we couldn't really put any kind of complete vegetation kill in there.
This year we decided to solve that problem. Rubber mulch. Amazingly wonderful invention. The first thing we had to do to prepare the ground, was to remove dirt and even it all out. Bob made a screed board that leveled it off at about 3" from the edge of the concrete. This picture below is looking down Limberlost down the opposite way from the photo above.
We took the extra dirt and piled it in the crevasse that was between the cement path and the back fence. Fewer lost balls and toys. And okay, I'll say it... fewer places for snakes to lay in waiting.
And here's the screed board in action. Bob and I each took one end, and dragged it across the dirt several times until there was a good pile of dirt to be removed. Then we shoveled it into the wheel barrow and dumped that into the tractor, and then he drove that down the street to our daughter's house, where she'll be using it after we remove a little pond in her backyard.
After the dirt was leveled off, we put down a landscape liner. We got that at Home Depot, along with the little staples that attach it to the dirt.
It was so nice to see the blossoms just starting to peek out from the apple-pear trees in Limberlost.
The preparation was really the hardest part of the whole project.
We decided that before we put the rubber mulch in, we should put in a couple of things for the grands to play on. I found a great teeter-totter airplane from Lifetime that can fit up to 7 kids! We had a few of the kiddos here while we were assembling...
We put the airplane right onto the liner, so the mulch can go all around it.
... And it appears to be grandchild approved!
We also put together a Little Tykes play structure
There is a bigger slide that goes off the back side. It's pretty fun for the kids to play around on.
After we got the toys in place, we started dumping the bags of mulch. We had 3 pallets of rubber mulch delivered to the house -- 6000 pounds worth. It sounds like a ton (well... three tons), but it went pretty fast, and made such a beautiful difference! I love how it looks!
The rubber mulch is really great for a lot of reasons. It doesn't decompose like natural bark mulch does. We won't be replacing this every other year. It is made from old tires, which makes it feel like I'm doing something good for the environment. It is a soft landing for the kids coming off the slide, or if they happen to fall in it. It is heavier than bark mulch, so it stays in place better. And lastly, it is clean. The kids can sit in it and play with it, and they come out clean as a whistle.
After we got that area done, we started on the area just in front of Limberlost. There are orchard trees all along that fence, too, and the garden beds were solid Mexican Primrose. I love the look of Mexican Primrose when it's blooming, but after that, it looks like a bunch of weeds, and let's just be honest here... it also was a great place for snakes to hide. I have seen many a snake back there in those Mexican Primrose beds. So, because of my relationship with snakes, the Primrose had to go.
The guys are clearing the beds below...
I don't know why, but boys and tractors....
And these are what the beds looked like after we pulled the old dead primrose growth out of them. Then, they removed dirt and put the liners in.
And voila! Beautiful beds with no primrose and no snakes. Woohoo!
We'll continue to add and tweak in Limberlost in the coming years. It is definitely a work in progress.