You know what mud wrestlers look like, right? Well, we've got heat and drought here and the dirt is dry, so imagine, if you will, dust wrestlers. Now you know what I look like every morning after an hour or so of sod removal in my back yard, the site of the excavation project. Legs covered in dirt - because it's hot as hell and I'm wearing ragged cut-offs. Then there's the huge amounts of sweat in which I'm drenched, and the damp frizzies that comprise my hairdo, and now you know why there's no photo to document the gardener at work. Though it would be fun to have one, maybe to show people in the media what gardeners really look like when they're gardening. Then they'd stop asking us to dress like we would for real gardening when we're photographed, which is just never gonna happen anyway. We're happy to shower up, dress casually, wield our pruners and show off the garden, though, any time.
But back to the project, the removal of about 500 square feet of sod that I wrote about elsewhere. I'm out there at 6 or 6:15 every morning, when there's barely enough light, and it's too hot to work already but the project must move forward so I can get a bunch of plants in the ground. But gardeners know to pace themselves, and by 7:30 or so I've moved on to the essential job of keeping my plants from perishing in this drought. I see dead and dying plants everywhere I look and it's pretty scary.
THE METHOD OF DESODIFICATION
With a flat-blade spade I slice under the sod or step on it to cut through the roots, covering an area of maybe 2x5 feet before stopping the cutting phase. Then, on my knees, I take my favorite pointy trowel and lift-and-pull the chunk of soil, then slap it smartly across the dirt side with the edge of the trowel to break off the chunks of dirt, then shake it and throw it in the bucket for a trip to the compost pile. And man, there's nothing like sod to make some damn good compost out of the huge pile of dead leaves down in the woods.
CHANGE OF PLANS
If you read the story I linked to about this project you know I thought I could just cover the lawn with newspaper and mulch, wait two months and start planting in the newly improved soil. Thank gawd, some smart commenters gave me the reality check that it takes a LOT longer than 2 months for all that sod to decompose, and other commenters suggested I NOT replace the whole 1,000-sq lawn all at once. So I'm removing half the lawn - the half with really crappy, spotty grass - and doing it the old-fashioned way, working up a good sweat in the bargain. And for all my complaining about the heat, I love doing it because it's for the project and I'm just happy to have one.
Low maintenance gardening? Not for this addict.