my garden boots

rubber mulch



Fall is for Dreaming


              For me, this fall is mostly about dreaming about spring.  In August, I broke my ankle while gardening.  It was one of the few dry spells this summer and I was trying to deliver water to the planting bed on the far side of the property.  Because the hose was not long enough, I filled pails with water and took the heavy cart down a shortcut, a steep incline.  I fell and heard the snap of bone.  That was the end of my gardening.  After two surgeries, a metal plate and screws in my ankle, and instructions not to step on my right foot for 6 weeks, all my gardening activities had to stop.

              So what about gardening safety?  If you search the internet, you will find that gardening safety is mostly about handling lawnmowers and tools safely and about being careful with pesticides.  I did read about a woman, who became horribly infected when she walked barefoot in compost. She had an open cut on her foot.  But mostly, gardening is great for your health: you get a good workout pushing that wheelbarrow; you increase your lung capacity and absorb sun to give you healthful vitamin D.  However, the human body may be frailer than we imagine and so it is important to think about safety.  My lesson from my broken ankle is to wear better shoes or boots with slip-proof soles and maybe ankle support when gardening. I also will be more wary when it comes to steep slopes.

              I still hope to be able to do some gardening chores in late fall. There is pruning, transplanting to be done. I want to enlarge some of my planting beds and have them ready for planting in spring.  One easy method to convert a piece of lawn into a planting bed without digging is to put wads of newspapers on top of grass (after it has been cut), wet the newspaper and then pile several inches of topsoil, compost, or manure on top.  In spring, the area will be ready for planting.  Another labor-saving technique I tried this year was to use 5.5-inch wide rolls of rubber mulch to surround my garden beds. I immobilized it over low cut grass with landscape fabric fasteners or staples.  The metal staples worked best for me.  The strips of rubber mulch even work on curved or round beds.  You just have to cut the strip into smaller pieces to get a good fit.  Just like ordinary mulch, the rubber mulch suppresses weeds while allowing air and water to go through.  Unlike ordinary mulch, it can’t be scattered.  For me, there is no more trimming or etching and the lawnmower can cut the grass right up to the rubber mulch.  The rubber mulch is not just practical, it also looks great.  It can also be used along walkways and under or next to fences to avoid trimming the grass there.  In some cases, you may want to scrape off the grass before laying it down.  I am planning to use more of the rubber mulch next spring.  You can order 10 foot rolls from gardening catalogs, but I found mine at half the price at Lowe’s.  I am looking forward to walking on two feet again and a very busy spring.