. What, you ask, constitutes good dirt? I personally prefer my dirt chocolate colored and at ground level. We have two dogs, two cats, and a rabbit. All are prolific poopers and eliminate the need for manure.
Hon dreams about gardens. Her calendars all have picturesque gardens from all over the world. She watches "The Victory Garden" every Saturday morning. There is usually a Richard Simmons look-a-like on the show speaking with an English accent who gallivants all over the world prancing around the gardens of rich and famous people that have no lives what-so-ever. I'm guessing their gardens are so great because plants relate well to people who have stepped on the wrong end of a rake one too many times. Unfortunately, I have no idea what perennial means, and we didn't inherit a huge estate with several very short gardeners at our beck and call. We have something even better. Me! I feel obliged to share my achievements and secrets in print so that I can do my part to beautify our city.
First off it is crucial to look the part. Remember, success is not nearly as important as how you look when you are doing something. Clothes make the gardener and I am here to impart important horticultural styling tips. I always recommend blue Key bib overalls. They aren't too pricey, yet it tells your yard you mean business. A large brimmed floppy hat is important so your wife can't see if you're napping or sipping a beer. If you are hirsute and single you may skip this accoutrement but for more perfect heads like my own it is essential. A red, cotton paisley neckerchief adds panache. (Red is important, as any fool in the emergency room can tell you.) I have also noticed steel-toed shoes are a good way to assure the length of your feet remain constant.
Unless you are a gifted tanner, a lightweight, long sleeve shirt and sunscreen will save you and your wife some sleepless nights and a lot of money on Solarcain, which I might add is hard to find around 1:00 AM. Too much sun has the tendency to turn people like me into a screaming traffic cone.
If you check out the price of renting Roto-tillers and buying sheep poop, you will quickly realize you already have all you need. What, you ask, constitutes good dirt? I personally prefer my dirt chocolate colored and at ground level. We have two dogs, two cats, and a rabbit. All are prolific poopers and eliminate the need for manure. My wife, of course, is very interested in organic gardening. She bought a mulching lawn mower that turns twigs, cans, leaves, and an occasional toe or pet into nutritional plant food. I have no idea how that helps the soil but I'm sure it must or they wouldn't have sold it to her. The main advantage as near as I can tell is that it saves a lot of trips to the dump. You'll want to sharpen those mulching blades frequently unless your lawn, unlike mine, doesn't have rocks in it thrown by angry neighbors trying to shut your dogs up.
Speaking of animals, they are critical to a great looking lawn. They've created ruts err... paths that look more natural than any I've seen on TV. Dogs have a fantastic sense of placement when landscaping. Sometimes I step in it. Most expensive landscaping gurus retain poodles or some species of dog that usually look like a sculpted bush, a few also use specially trained Doberman Poopers.
Many garden tools are unnecessary. As near as I can tell, my shovel is actually a finely tuned divining rod to find rocks and cables, so if I need a hole dug I just pour some bacon grease on the selected spot and my dogs turn into post hole diggers.
Every yard must have railroad ties. It's the law. We have an attractive pile of them lying right where I dumped them ten years ago. It serves as a natural habitat for raccoons, skunks and God knows what else. We always try to do our bit for local wildlife.
Herbs are critical for any household kitchen. We retrieved some starter plants when the police missed some. For some reason they were cleaning up the peoples yard behind us. Come to think of it, I haven't seen the residents of that house for quite a while. They always had visitors and seemed like a real popular couple. Maybe they went on a long cruise.
You can never be too careful picking out shrubs. Some of them can be prickly stabbers that send roots down to clog up drainpipes, and are a natural nest for black widows. Those are the kind we already have so we didn't bother spending all that money on shrubbery. They also provide an irresistible target for the paperboy.
The trees you pick should have a natural resistance to cold, insects, and drought. I can't tell you how many times I've commented on the inconvenience of termite ridden tree limbs poking through the kitchen ceiling. I've been thinking of partially burying one of the railroad ties upright and nailing green sticks to it.
In my opinion roses are the most beautiful flowers in the world... from a distance. They are nature's answer to barbed wire so, if you have a tendency to run around naked in your backyard after a few beers they are not a good idea. I dug mine up.
It's important to have some grass here and there for the health of your cats. It gives them something besides mouse and bird parts to throw up on your rug.
Garden furniture is always a nice touch to brighten up your yard. The next good blow will provide plenty of lawn furniture lying around the neighborhood just waiting to be picked up. Cable spools make excellent tables and won't blow away and it's a great anchor to tie your collection of wayward aluminum chairs to. The wind will also blow away any excess mulch in your yard that your fortunate neighbors can benefit from.
Fences are always a challenge. Our caring neighbors insist on building very high ones so we don't lose track of our dogs.
By observing other yards it is apparent that the more useless stuff you have in your yard the greater the chance that you will be in the parade of homes. We built a perfectly worthless grape arbor that provides no shade and serves no noticeable function what so ever. I guess the parade of homes judges haven't seen it yet because no one has called.
I've always wanted a statue of a little short guy leading a horse or donkey. Hon won't let me get one as most minorities in our neighborhood are well armed.
She wanted to put up plastic lifelike deer and gnomes all around. I needed some new archery targets so I reluctantly agreed.
The classiest yards look like a miniature golf course and the windmills and whirligigs scream taste and affluence. We also put in a birdbath that produces a pound of algae per day. Judging from the amount of bird parts and feathers scattered around the yard my cats really seem to be enjoying it. Hon said (rather vehemently I might add.) the upright bathtub with the lighted Virgin Mary statue inside it looked too busy so I abandoned that project. It's best to do these kind of projects only under carefully controlled conditions such as when your wife's not home.
Large rocks are a lovely addition to any yard. An added benefit of rocks is that they provide protection for my huge investment of time and money against vandals. I placed a couple of two feet high boulders in my front yard, painted them green, and planted buffalo grass around them. Hon says they resemble large post-apocalyptic chia-pets. Unfortunately several fun loving youngsters fresh from a prom or football game don't notice them in time to avert a collision. Driving over homeowner's lawns is a great pastime for these little testosterone producers and this sport produces memorable times and higher insurance rates for their parents. Every time there is a school function during May or June I sleep on our roof. Police occasionally ask me if I saw the people in the stolen the car that's teetering on my rocks.
I take pictures from our roof as mementos to give the kids and their parents to put in their scrapbooks. You can't pay enough for memories like that. Many of the cars reported stolen are driven by thieves that coincidentally look just like the owner's children. The rocks have provided several nice hubcaps that make great edging for plant beds and sidewalks.
I've run out of tips for today. I hope I've helped to inspire you to start your dream garden. I would invite you over for a bar-b-que, but when I mention it, Hon gets all frowny and looks as though squids are cruising through her intestines. She says we're not quite ready for company. She's such a perfectionist. That's probably why she married me.