A Garden Makeover All Because of a Hedgehog
January 25, 2009
Allan in Musings on Gardening, garden design, hedge hog

The hedgehog that lived in my backyard was much larger than the one shown here. Learn more about hedgehogs by clicking onto the above image.

Our back yard deck sat five and a half feet off the ground atop an enormous rock garden that measured twenty feet wide by sixteen feet deep. A previous owner, who had built it, did things on a grand scale. One day, a giant hedgehog decided that our deck would make a comfortable home and began to burrow into the sides of the rock garden just underneath the flagstones of the deck and up against the foundation of the house. He created a tunnel that ran twenty feet from one end to the other.

Soon, the flagstones began to shift. A few years later, they would sink into the tunnel. Although we had attempted to repair them several times, the hedgehog would undo all of our  work in a season. The deck had become a perpetual safety hazard and need to be replaced.

All of the contractors we approached insisted that the raised rock garden would need to be demolished, to facilitate construction, and of course, to evict the hedgehog. If it were to be done right, there would be  no options to economize. In destroying the deck, the contractor we chose also demolished the supports of the permanent overhead awning.That too would need to be replaced.

For the new deck, we chose a polymer material called Eon that would liberate us from the chore of deck restaining. For the awning, we found a polycarbonate material called Suntuf that offers protection against UV rays. We're hoping that the heat blocking properties of the translucent color we selected, metallic silver, will help reduce energy cost during airconditioning season.

When the project was completed, we mused that, for only $500, the provincial government would have trapped the hedgehog and released him into the wild. We didn’t trust the hedgehog; we were certain he would find us again, no matter where he was released. In the end, we had spent many multiples of that amount on the new deck.

Our next project was the surrounding lawn. A backhoe, used to demolish the old deck, had destroyed the grass. I had budgeted for landscaping but neglected to factor in the cost of carting away damaged sod. Even though there was a lot to haul away, I did not want a dump truck on my property. It was the rainy season and my clay-earth back yard was too boggy to support any heavy equipment without  leaving craters. It occurred to me that I might be able to “recycle", thereby saving  money and whatever was left of my back yard.

Fortunately, my assistant knew a lot about composting. He selected a forty- foot- long empty flower bed that ran along the  fence separating my property from my neighbor’s, and piled the damaged sod, face down, along the length of the fence. At several intervals, he would sprinkle compost starter on the pile, which I found at Veseys. Then water was applied  and  the piling  process continued. When the job was done, the new mound  was covered with fresh top soil left over from the resodding project. Looking at my back yard now, no one would know that I was composting. All that the eye can see is a neat brown flower bed waiting to be planted next spring.

The composting exercise was inspiring and I needed  to learn more about it. By coincidence, a book about composting arrived, by mail, a week later.  My review of that book will be posted here shortly.You can read it now at  bookpleasures.com

P.S. The hedgehog  moved  into my neighbor's back yard.

Article originally appeared on Garden Design, Montreal, Perennial Flower Gardens, Gardening Tips, Gardening Advice, Gardening Book Reviews (http://allanbecker-gardenguru.squarespace.com/).
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