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Monday, May 17, 2021

The Land of Mulch and Money

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Fay Jacobs
A 2011 Best of Delaware winner for Best Writer Downstate, Fay is a native New Yorker who spent 30 years in the Washington, DC area working in journalism and public relations. She retired in 2009 as Executive Director of Rehoboth Beach Main Street. Fay has written for The Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Delaware Beach Life, Coastal Sussex Weekly and the Wilmington News Journal and is currently working as a full-time writer, editor and publishing consultant. She has written three award-winning books about Rehoboth Beach.

Spring has sprung at Schnauzerhaven in Food Lion Estates. If I’d known just how much of my disposable income would go for mulch, I’d be writing from my condo overlooking the boardwalk.

Before I had this house I didn’t know it was possible to go to Lowes three times in a day. My mate and I socialize more over shredded hardwood than cocktails. And it’s the same people there every weekend. We’ve conducted entire friendships amid bags of pine bark in the check-out line.

Of course, all that mulch speaks to the enormity of our task. When we bought this house off Old Landing Road, I assumed the Old Landing referred to something nautical. “Dock the yacht at the landing, dahling.” Hah. It’s more literal.

Turns out my house sits directly on what used to be the runway for the old Rehoboth airport. When we moved here, our three-quarter acre landing strip had so few trees a 747 could still touch down without incident. I referred to it as the little house on the prairie.

But in the intervening eleven years we’ve landscaped. With a zeal formerly reserved for Saks Fifth Avenue I’ve spent summers careening through various garden worlds from Smyrna to Millsboro, acquiring all manner of variegated, spreading, compacted, dwarfed, pygmy things. I don’t know much about plants, but all their names sound like medical conditions.

My favorite trees are the Leyland Cypress. I swear, they grow so fast you can actually hear them spurting up. They started as 24-inchers in pots and now tower 35 feet in the air. Mother Nature’s little joke is their very shallow roots. I spent much of this winter’s blizzard putting aside the Irish Coffee, leaving the warmth of the hearth, dressing like Nanook of the North and shaking snow off the Leylands so they wouldn’t fall over and die. I spent the rest of the time hoping I wouldn’t.

So spring arrived and thoughts turned to landscaping. Exactly where did last fall’s $385 dollar ration of mulch go? It’s not like some truck comes along in the dead of night and siphons it off for a black market mulch dealer. Do birds fly it south with them? Where for art thou mulcheo?

Short of an answer these fools headed back to Lowe’s several times before April Fool’s Day to stock up and get ready for the 2010 Mulch Flinging Iditarod. That’s where we toss mulch around the trees and planting beds, followed immediately by the dogs trying to dig it back up and carry as much of it as they can into the house in their beards.

We’d almost finished when the spring rains came. What was it, an entire week? Between fresh plantings and mulch, Nor’ Easters and Schnauzers, God save the carpets.

Thrice a day we’d get the dogs in from the backyard mosh pit, grab them before their paws or snouts touched any carpet or wall and toss them into the tub. One memorable moment at Schnauzerhaven Day Spa had us lathering and rinsing the filthy pooches, then cleaning the tub. Sadly, since we’d used all our limbs just to get the boys into the house without touching anything, we’d neglected the teeny little task of closing the sliding glass door. While I was scrubbing the damn tub, the beasts were right back outside rolling around in the muddy mulch.

So last week, I was inside the house, stretching the making of a couple of sandwiches into a full-time job, as my spouse off-loaded more bags of mulch from the car. Ugh. It’s May and we’re still at it.

But here’s the kicker. In a stunning example of ‘what goes around comes around,’ it seems we now have too many trees on our property. And some of them, heaven help us, have gotten too big for their britches over the years, much as we have.

When the tree expert asked “Who thought planting a tree here was a good idea?” we learned we’d be better off if our homestead was more of a landing strip again. Our towering hollies and spreading spruces are threatening our roof and garage. Who knew we’d been looking for trees in all the wrong places?

So now I’m trying to wrap my addled brain around the concept of tree removal. After more than a decade of lovingly mulching, pruning, watering, feeding and otherwise giving aid and comfort to the greenery, I now have to kill trees? It’s enough to make me want to chug some Round-Up.

We’re about to spend good money removing carnivorous evergreens we paid good money for in the first place. If there’s no justice can’t there at least be revenge? I have a disturbing urge to head to Lowes and stab wildly at all the plastic mulch bags. If I hadn’t mulched the hell out of my trees in the first place maybe they wouldn’t have thrived and gotten us into this pickle.

Let’s face it, I always lived by the adage you can never be too rich, too thin or have too much mulch. But now, it’s ask not what your mulch can do for you, ask what you can do to your damn mulch.

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Fireworks will bloom this summer. Rehoboth, New Castle say theirs are on

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With so much federal stimulus cash, state predicts surplus of $1 billion

Members of the committees talked about replenishing funds that were used to help weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fans celebrate return of NASCAR to Dover Speedway

Almost a return to normal: 20,000 fans hit Dover Speedway and see Alex Bowman win
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