Mulching and Composting Can Change Your Landscape

pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)August 19, 2014

Subconsciously, I knew that, but I did not know it would raise my yard a foot higher than my neighbor's. :-D

Hi Folks,
Ten years ago I was a frequent poster on this forum. I had been composting and mulching prior to joining the Gardenweb. But I became an avid leaf bag snatcher after discovering this forum.

Every fall, I would dump bag after bag of leaves in my yard and every spring and summer, I would dump van loads of horse manure & horse bedding on top of the leaf mold. I have also been composting in situ, meaning burying kitchen scraps wherever I can find a spot to dig.

Guess what? Last week, DH told me after visiting my next door neighbor that our backyard is a foot higher than the neighbor's. Is it against the city's ordinance to raise your yard above your neighbors'? LOL. Not that I would change my habits. 5555 (FYI: 5 in Thai is "Ha")

Three cheers to mulching and composting.

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My neighbor and I are both gardeners. She mulches (has someone come in and apply mulch annually) and I go with compost and leaves in my mostly "no bare dirt" garden.

One thing we ran into is having to ask the people who did her mulch to be careful not to mulch right up to the property line, where the water is supposed to drain between the two yards. I was suddenly having rivers running through my garden whenever it rained because the grade had changed! She's a wonderful neighbor and was happy to have them be sure to keep the swale open for drainage.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 12:54PM
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It may be that the level of your soil is higher than it was but also the level of your neighbor's soil may have sunk if they did not amend. Possibly both. I had a large bed in my front yard that I didn't amend much and the level became lower over many years. I've since redone that bed and raised the level substantially.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 12:55PM
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Maybe it's a new mountain range rising out of the earth's crust. Have you thought about that? :-D

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 6:13PM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

Thanks for responding, everyone.

Ruth, how lucky you are to have a gardener next door. Neither of my neighbors was one until a young lady moved in to the house with a sunken yard this spring. She created a beautiful vegetable garden immediately after moving in. She did not know that that garden will be submerged in heavy rain. I will help her mulch and share with her my loads of manure.....something that the neighbor who moved out did not want.

luckygal, I believe you are right; the end of our yard was submerged when we first moved in 28 years ago. That part next door becomes a regular lake after a heavy rain especially when the ground has not thawed in srping and the puddle gets larger every year.

:-P toxcrusadr, THAT is a very creative answer. :-D Thank you for giving me a good laugh.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 7:12PM
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I have seen Piti's gardens in photos and she may have raised the soil in her gardens but OH what gardens!!!!! They are spectacular!!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 7:36PM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

Thank you, tiffy. :-) A compliment from you is especially valued considering how spectacular your other garden was. I have yet to see any picture of your current garden. Have you worked on it so it is close to the glory of that one yet?

This post was edited by pitimpinai on Fri, Aug 22, 14 at 21:20

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 9:14PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

I would remove some poor dry soil because adding compost to keep it level. But, since the compost does breakdown, the soil I remove is so much less then compost that I add. I wonder why your compost is not breaking down? Eventually if you add compost that is all organic, your soil should come out the same. Even if you don't remove soil.

This post was edited by tropical_thought on Sat, Aug 23, 14 at 20:41

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 12:11PM
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When I first moved here, I dug out 5 inch deep, 20 inch wide furrows to plant stuff, irrigating the furrow from up hill. I added manure, compost, and mulch to the surface of the furrows - all organic matter, no soil, and let the worms do the work of incorporating it. About 8 years later, I realized my 5 inch deep furrows were now 5 inch high mounds.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 12:27AM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

Mulch does break down in my garden, tropical_thought. Each bit and piece beaks down at diffternt rate, depending on the materials and their original size. I still find chunks of woodchips that I added to the garden a few years ago among decompsed materials.

I do not remove any existing soil. After such a large amount of mulch and compost have been added to such a tiny yard for 28 years, the accumulated decomposed materials have no where but building up on top.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 2:11PM
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I've been in my house for almost 30 years, and I've been mulching most of those years. I have probably had over two feet of mulch decompose on my gardens, and that accounts for the several inches difference between my yard and my neighbors' yards.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 5:50PM
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