Monsanto kindly asks that you rake the forest.

Everybody has days when they realize their job is a pointless absurdity. Mine came the other day when I was raking the forest. Don't get me wrong- any kind of February work for a landscaper is a good thing, but I'm used to thinking that what I do is important. I regard landscaping as a nexus of Art and Science and often imagine myself poised heroically with a shovel in a Diego Rivera mural.

Daydreaming helps pass hours of endless raking.

On this day however, I was preoccupied with the silliness of what I was doing. A friend and long term client had taken pity on me and asked if I could squeeze in some late winter work into my busy schedule (har, har). A couple hours later I was on a little island near the Boise river raking up leaves and debris that had already begun to turn into wonderful compost over the winter. The adjacent homeowners had already cleaned their little sections of the island which just seemed to make my client's area just look, well untidy.

Cutting into this self sustaining natural system does have it's business advantages though. As an add on to my expert raking services, we also provide fertilization (which I will be sure to suggest for this little piece of Poplar and red twig dogwood riparian forest). I don't feel especially bad about it as we use organically derived, low nitrogen fertilizer but it does make think that there are probably better ways to manage our landscapes.

I'm currently working on a large community common area landscape redesign which I plan to write more about in the future. An important component of this design will be on site composting of all non-woody organic debris derived from the common area landscape. The idea is simple. Instead of hauling off the biomass, we can reduce it by a factor of ten or more through accelerated composting and reintroduce it to the beds as a nutrient rich soil conditioner. In my own landscape beds at home this has precluded the need for supplemental fertilization. This is a terrific way of emulating natural systems in an effort to create sustainable landscape maintenance .

I got the idea from raking the forest.