Friday, June 28, 2013

Overrun by vines

The house next door to us has been a rental for about five years.  The former owners moved into a house two doors the other way.  They love to garden and left behind a mature landscape that had been lovingly tended.

Since becoming a rental, what remains of the garden has gotten out of control.  The various tenants mowed the lawn, and one even had a vegetable garden for a season, but the vines on the arbor along the property line really went wild. Last winter, the most recent batch tenants moved out very quickly.  It turns out that the landlord had been pocketing the rent rather than paying the mortgage.  While I wasn't particularly sad to see these tenants go, it does mean that we are next to a vacant house for now.

This was the view from our side.  Honeysuckle, grapes, climbing roses, and something else I don't know have completely overrun the arbor.  Gene and I figure that the vegetation weighs in the hundreds of pounds.  The grapes are a destructive menace, having reached across and pulled our gutters down on that side of the house during a particularly intense growing spell.  It's infuriating.

Here's the after picture.  I cut all this down by hand with hand pruners.  Seriously.  It was tedious and filthy work.

I've since cleaned up the raspberries and cut back the hydrangea and currant on the left.  I plan to remove the two shrubs in the middle on my side, and transplant raspberries along the fence.


Became this:

The hummingbirds are NOT happy with me for having cut back the honeysuckle.  They'll return as the plant regrows but in the meantime I will miss them.

Since the house is vacant I went over and cut back the laurel hedges on the property line.  Those hedges, too, are very invasive and destructive to our side of the property line.  Less than an hour later I heard Gene talking to someone: potential buyers!  The wife looked at the laurel and asked when it had been cut back because it had all been there the previous morning.  Ummmm.... [whistling]

Finally, I salvaged my flower bed from the grass that had overtaken it last summer.

Wow.  I am starting to remember what it's like to have a yard that is attractive and purposeful, not overrun with weeds and regret.

The best part, though is having a spot for Kaelen to be.  We've been spending more time outside.  He's getting more comfortable with and interested in the chickens.  The girls are normally in their run but we sometimes let them out for some supervised time in the yard.  With a toddler who will step in and pick up poop, and a dog who treats it like her personal smorgasbord, it's best to leave the girls in their run most of the time.

But ya gotta admit that seeing a toddler with chickens is pretty dang cute.

This aligns with my 2013 goal of simplifying the yard.  I'm eliminating and reducing garden beds that have proven too hard to manage.  I wanted more space for Kaelen and for the dog, which is well on its way to being done.

Next up I'm going to reduce the size of a bed on the other side of the yard, give away several of the larger shrubs to a friend who just bought an acre, and then transplant some things from the front yard into the back.  My flower beds that are on the front slope of my yard are going to revert to grass for the sake of my sanity.  I know that we're supposed to plant gardens, not grass, but I just can't manage the yard in its current state.  At least I don't water grass in the summer, right?

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