Going on a cardboard hunt

As part of our multi-year landscaping project, Melody and I cover up a lot of weeds and sod. Our landscape designer recommended starting with a layer of compost, a double layer of cardboard, then a thick layer of wood chips. This has worked really well for us; the old weeds and sod are pretty well suppressed, and all we need to do is pile on more chips every now and then. Sometimes the hard part is making sure we have all the parts necessary to proceed.

While we have a compost bin, we use a lot more than we can make. We end up buying a few cubic yards every now and then and supplement with our own whenever it's ready. Chips are really easy to get, since tree service companies will drop them off for free. It can take several weeks before they get around to you, but it's hard to beat the price.

Chips and compost

Chips and compost

Since we have a pretty long driveway, we have chips and compost dropped near the garage (we wouldn't be able to fit cars in the garage around the wood shop). Every now and then we end up moving a pile over so whatever is getting delivered next can be dropped off closer to the garage. In this picture, the chips were the most recent delivery, and we had moved the compost to the right to make room. Behind the planter (a bay laurel tree) are a pile of river rock (on the right) and a slate-type rock, all dug out of the yard from one place or another. We've already used about the same amount of rock in other areas of the yard (for drainage around the perimeters of the house and garage).

Early on, the easiest thing to procure was cardboard. I used to grab the large, double-thickness cardboard boxes in which our computer systems arrived at work.  Throw a dozen or so into the car, peel off all the tape and labels, remove the staples, and we were ready to go. That source has somewhat dried up recently due to the combination of purchasing fewer servers, not being on the same floor as where the servers got unpacked (therefore not seeing the boxes), and the boxes not staying around as long before they get recycled. Thus the hunt for cardboard.

My initial thought is appliance stores would have big, heavy boxes. After calling a few places, we ended up at an appliance store in Shoreline, and a call to them confirmed that they have a bin into which they throw cardboard. We didn't see much in the bin when we got there, and the cardboard ended up being single, not double thickness. Drove by Best Buy on the way home, figuring I've seen several people leave the box for their new flat screen TVs to get it to fit into the car. The store greeter pointed me to the loading dock, and while I didn't see any TV boxes, I did find lots of medium-sized boxes which were double thickness. After filling a shopping cart twice with cardboard, I went home and started doing the tape removal thing.

The boxes are all different sizes, so that will make it more challenging to use over large areas, but it should work out OK. Now we just need to find time to actually get around to working in the yard.