Showing posts with label stump removal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label stump removal. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Blank slates and fun natives I'll never plant again

Did you ever have something really hard or bad happen in your life, and maybe you were super worried or stressed about it, but once you had a plan you felt better? You still have to deal with it and go through all the pain or hassle, but having a plan makes you feel like you're being proactive. Plans in the garden make me feel better too. I'm still going to have to deal with plants dying or growing slowly or not growing the way the tag said they would, but I have a plan.

In the northeast corner of the yard, the corner we stare at all through winter while we drink coffee in bed, I finally gave up on the Cryptomeria japonica 'Elegans'. It couldn't stand on its own for whatever reason (I think that corner is just too windy). This corner has been a mishmash of stuff, mostly natives that I got on the cheap because I was so cash poor when I first bought my house. Behind the cryptomeria was an Ocean Spray (Holodiscus discolor) that looked absolutely terrible all the time and it had no winter interest. It was also going to crowd out that tree eventually. Between the weeping blue spruce and the cryptomeria is a huckleberry that is going to take a million years to get up to a good shrubby size. I'm willing to wait on that one because it's evergreen and very pretty. There used to be a native flowering currant in that spot but the pink blooms clashed with everything else so I dug it up and gave it away. While we're on the subject of natives, I planted a nodding onion here on a whim and I will be forever pulling up seedlings as a result. Except the seedlings have to be dug up, they're so stubborn. Worst native ever.

Our view in winter

The cryptomeria is going to be replaced by a Korean fir but I've yet to find one with a form I like. I ripped out the Ocean Spray this weekend.

To get some height and winter interest in this area I'm finally getting smart and incorporating tall grasses and fast-growing perennials. Behold, my amazing MS Paint skills!

Two Panicum 'Northwind' will lend some height in the back, along with Joe Pye weed. I'm planning to put in some Zauschneria starts to obscure the tulip foliage once they start dying. I'm really excited about the lupine here, Lupinus regalis 'Thomas Church,' which Annie Hayes described in a lecture I attended last spring. Its blooms are two toned purple and yellow and it's fragrant and (supposedly) mildew-free.

Image source: Annie's Annuals
Just to the left lies the apple tree stump that I attempted to turn into a birdbath.

The birdbath couldn't hold water after the second year and the stump keeps suckering along the root line, so I've yanked out all the peonies and penstemon from this area and the stump will be ground out in two weeks. The peonies have been permanently relocated to another area of the yard and soon I'll have a blank slate in front of the bamboo. I don't have a plan for this area yet.

I want to plant a gunnera but I'm worried it will dwarf the ninebark to the right of the bamboo. I'm also worried it won't fit in a yard where there isn't much in the way of tropical plants. I have about 50 square feet of blank slate here. I think I might need another Melianthus major but that's all I've got so far. Anybody have good ideas? Has anyone ever crowd sourced their yard as much as I have? I don't think so.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Like they never existed

A dude came out this week with one of those fancy earth-moving machines that make me so nervous. He dug out the rhody stumps, including the one located over our water main. I was working from home that day, ironing out a presentation while the windows rattled and the floor vibrated. It wasn't stressful at all.

As the guy left he yelled, "Enjoy your clean slate!" It amazes me; in about an hour he was able to make it like the rhododendron and azalea never existed. I feel extra stupid for ever trying to remove a stump myself. He also ground out the rhododendron in the backyard, nicking the berm on my rain garden a little.

How funny is that perfect square of sod in the middle of the yard? I broadcast seed around that area, trying to soften the square, but our lawn is rejecting it. I'm just going to start telling people that it's a modern grass installation. "Eames totally did that in his yard."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I'm not as strong as I think

The front yard has been looking particularly bad lately. The house needs to be painted and the landscaping is non-existent. If we neglect to mow the lawn our house goes from looking rundown to looking abandoned.

To wit:

The grass has spread under the rhododendrons and has sprawled well past its edges on the sidewalk and driveway. Greg was away on a crazy business trip all last week, jet-setting to amazingly humid locales like Atlanta. He came home and I was like, "I missed you so much! Let's spend some quality time weeding!"

I am the worst girlfriend.

We got the area under the rhodies cleared and discovered there are bricks outlining that area! I wanted to mulch the area under the rhodies but was worried about using a wood product and possibly encouraging termites. I asked the two instructors at my Naturescaping class and they assured me that mulching with bark or bark dust would not cause termites. Now I know where to send the Terminix bill if they are wrong.

While we were clearing out the area Greg started whacking a rhododendron stump. There were, at some point, FOUR rhodies and one azalea in this area. The stump popped right out with a few whacks.

Greg: "Well that was easy."
Heather: "Nice job! Now go remove that one."
Greg: "Where? I don't see another stump."
Heather: "Right there. And there."
Greg: "You mean the live rhododendrons?"
Heather: "Yes. Just go whack them until they fall down."
Greg: "That won't work."
Heather: "Yes it will. Just try."
Heather: "Please?"

I was convinced (convinced!) that it wouldn't be that hard to pull the live stumps out so the next day I cut down one of the rhodies and started working at the stump. Mothercusser wouldn't move. Greg came out and nicely didn't gloat. I was hoping to trick him into picking up the pickaxe but he wouldn't go for it.

Whatever, I don't care. I'm glad this thing is no longer blocking all the light into our dining room. LEAVING THE STUMP WAS PART OF MY PLAN.

Instead I weeded the parking strip, spread a nice layer of compost on it, then mulched it. Again. I have weeded and mulched that strip so many times. My coastal strawberries are finally taking off but my kinnikinnick is just sitting there, not forming a nice ground cover.

It doesn't help that I never amended the soil after I removed the arbor vitae. This fall I plan to have a couple of yards of compost delivered so I can spread it on all the beds. I always thought compost only helped if worked into the soil. It turns out that if you leave it on top, the worms will come up through the soil, grab it, and bring it lower. Working it in initially would be better, but laying it on top will eventually improve the soil structure. It will also work as a mulch during the cold winter months.

I plan to build compost bins this summer so I can start making my own soil amendments. And a new fence. And a deck. We're gonna be busy.