Faced with a growing weed problem in the gravelled section of the garden of his rented property, David Enstone* was looking for ways around the problem that didn’t involve spending huge amounts of money.
The Plan and the Reasoning
“It’s not that I resent spending money, it’s just that we don’t own the property so I wasn’t chuffed with the idea of spending hundreds of pounds on someone else’s property. Unfortunately, the tenancy agreement makes us responsible for the garden,” he explained.
The idea was to remove the weeds, lift the gravel into some large bags that had been scrounged from a neighbour renovating his property, then lay down a weed barrier and replace the carpet. Mr Enstone had already bagged some extra gravel from a local person who had offered it on Freecycle, the internet bulletin board where people dispose of items that aren’t really worth any money but might still be useful to someone.
Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud
“Unfortunately, we underestimated the scale of the problem,” Mr Enstone explained. “When we lifted the gravel we realised that it was impossible to separate it from the earth underneath. We basically ended up with a bag load of very heavy mud!”
It was the recycling boxes that came to the rescue. “We had three boxes so we put a couple of spades full of gravel into the first and filled it with water,” Mr Enstone said. “After stirring it for a while we then lifted the gravel out with an old kitchen colander, put it in the second box and repeated the process. In the third box, we scrubbed the gravel with a wire brush, the sort that you can buy from car accessory shops.”
Weed Barrier from Reused Material
Once the gravel was clean, the site was levelled and the impermeable layer put down to prevent the weed problem without resorting to chemicals. Again, rather than buying a plastic sheet from a garden centre, Mr Enstone was off into the Freecycle world, this time to grab some rubber and hessian underlay, which was cut to fit and placed upside-down on the plot.
“Once we’d got the clean gravel down on top of the carpet it looked fantastic, and although it had been hard work, it hadn’t cost us any money, just our time and effort,” said Mr Enstone.
Was it Worth all the Effort?
Did he think that perhaps it might have been easier to just spay the weeds with chemical weedkiller and throw down a few bags of gravel?
“Well, easier, yes. But that’s part of the problem in the world that we’ve created today,” Mr Enstone evangelised. “We get rid of things before they’re finished with just because it’s easier and cheaper than fixing them. As far as I’m concerned the kids and I had a great weekend mucking about with water and mud, and at the end of it we have a good looking gravel bed that hasn’t cost a penny.”
* Names have been changed