epic backyard landscaping project: the TILLING

DUN DUN DUNNNNN. (Insert dramatic theme music here.)

This is the part of the project that keeps me up at night.  Literally–I haven’t slept well in almost a week!  Andrew’s dad has a beast of a tiller that is older than dirt, heavier than crap and covered in rust.  I’ve used it before, so I knew tilling up this much surface area with it would be quite the undertaking.  

Last Sunday dawned bright and early, and we decided to forego church so I could get the bulk of the tilling done while Andrew was home.   I wasn’t positive I could start the thing myself, and while I’m not a worrisome person, I thought it would be safer to have someone else home while operating that piece of machinery.

First, I used spray paint to mark my beds along the fence line.  It came out pretty imperfectly, if I do say so myself.  (Thankfully, I was able to make more precise lines later on with a shovel.)

I had taken the top layer of grass off some of the areas already, so I jumped right in.  Andrew got the tiller started and off I went!

The pictures don’t really give an accurate picture of how difficult the tiller can be to manage.  If you’re simply chugging along in a straight line, you’re fine.  But, as soon as that thing start to list to one side, or it hits soft dirt and starts to nosedive–you’re in trouble REAL FAST.  It takes all my strength sometimes to keep it from tipping over, or maneuvering around trees or the fence.

I was at it for a couple hours before I ended up breaking the belt that turns the blades.  It got stuck on a tree root and I didn’t turn it off in time.  Thankfully (and a bit shockingly), Amazon stocks replacement parts and I was back in business two days later.  Feeling like I was falling behind schedule, I decided to give it a go alone.  I summoned all my #girlpower strength to get the thing started and it worked!  Once I finished the last fence line, I felt like a million bucks.  I wanted a cookie, a medal and a beer all at once.  A victory for women everywhere!

(I was, however, just a little panicked as I worked near the chain-link fence…that could have ended badly in all sorts of ways! Thankfully, my neighbor was home and aware I was operating heavy machinery.)

Check out the difference between our beast tiller, and my friend Dale’s ‘baby’ tiller:

I call his the ‘mexican jumping bean’ because it’s so lightweight and spins so quickly!  It’s a totally different experience.  I’m using his to till-in a top layer of compost.  It’s just as loud (ear protection necessary) but much easier to manage, especially in soft dirt.

Look at that beautiful bed and all that freshly tilled dirt!

The bed on the other side of the yard has been tilled up and I’ve spread some of the compost, but haven’t tilled it in yet.

This is where I’m going to start (TOMORROW!), and I’ve already had some of the plants delivered.  I’ll till-in the compost, then plant the new shrubs and transplant some hydrangeas that aren’t getting enough sun in their current spots.

My mantra for this project? ‘I am nothing, if not determined.’


One thought on “epic backyard landscaping project: the TILLING

  1. I can see why you haven’t been able to sleep. However, it’s definitely the most critical time of the project, and I, too, would probably lose sleep had I been there in your position.

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