Bermuda grass in my flower beds is relentless. I hate to admit it but the last few years it was so out of control I was embarrassed for anyone to see my flower beds. This year I was determined to get rid of it or at least get it under control. I prefer not to use the commonly used spray to eradicate Bermuda grass for reasons I won’t go into here but it was the only way I was going to stand a chance.
First, I used garden scissors to cut huge amounts of the offensive grass out of the beds so I could at least see the ground that it was covering. Second, I sprayed the base of the grass as close to the ground as I could get it. The final and very important step was to cover the ground with thick layers of mulch.
Here is were the frugal part comes in. I had a load of wood chips delivered for free from a tree trimming company that was looking for a dump site. I also acquired several bags of pine needles from a friend. (Best part about that was I didn’t even have to rake and bag them myself.) Additionally I picked up all the pine cones I could find and obtained a few pieces of used brick that was going to the dump from a construction site.
The pine needles and pine cones were used in one section of the flower bed. The wood chips were used in another. I partially buried sections of brick amongst the wood chips for a decorative effect and while the Bermuda grass might manage to come up through all that mulch, I dare it to come up through that brick.
I have to admit there is still some grass in my flower beds but for the first time in several years I can enjoy my flower beds instead of feeling disgust at how bad they looked. As an added benefit the mulch also helps hold in moisture which results in a less frequent need to water.
I have been reading about cob building and now that I have an outdoor cat I decided to see if I could build it a shelter for free. For the bottom I used a greenhouse tray that I obtained the last time I bought a flat of plants. For the upper portion I found a scrap of old Formica in the garage. For insulation I lined it inside and out with 1/2″ thick fiber fill that was used as packing around some furniture we bought.
The hubby kept telling me the cat wouldn’t get in it but you can see it did before I could even start putting the cob on it. The cat is inside it in the featured photo but he is so far back he doesn’t show up very well.
I am by no means a cob building expert. If you want to do any cob building I highly recommend you find better instructions than mine. I just used what I had available. I mixed equal portions of sand and clay. Since I didn’t have any straw I used pine needles that I cut into 2″ lengths. I mixed it all together then added enough water to make a moldable clay. Then I applied it to the mold in blobs and used my hands to smooth it all together.
Once it was build I pressed pebbles into the top to make it more durable. So far it is holding up well. It sits under an overhang so it doesn’t get very wet. I don’t know if it would survive if it got thoroughly wet.
We jokingly call it the Cat Cave. It even has a front porch. The cat loves it. I got him out of it one morning when it was 15 degrees outside and he felt toasty warm. It was free so I love it. I did learn however that I do not want to try a large-scale project like this. It was hard work.
You can make your own windshield wiper for pennies and it works great. All you need is a one gallon container, 1/2 C ammonia and 1T dish soap. Fill the jug with water leaving room for the ammonia and dish soap. Add the water first or you will find yourself waiting for the bubbles to subside before you can finish adding the water. Add the dish soap and ammonia. Put the lid on and shake. Add to the wiper fluid receptacle as needed. You might want to add a drop of food coloring so you won’t mistake the wiper fluid for something else. I write the name and recipe directly on the jug that way I don’t have to look for the recipe when I need to mix up a new batch. During harsh winters you may want to add a bottle of rubbing alcohol to make sure it doesn’t freeze.