a formidable opponent: yard fights back


This past weekend was Yard Work Central at the Windmere house.  And it was awful.  This yard is trying to kill me.  It’s not a normal yard.  It’s a 100-year-old (almost) yard and the sweet lady who lived in my house for the 9 years before we did may or may not have touched it, outside of mowing the lawn.  So when I say my yard is “challenging,” I’m referring to the almost-100-year-old tree roots invading my flower(less) beds, 100-year-old neglected ivy taking over everything it can get its little tentacles on, bushes the size of TREES.  I’m telling you people, this is not normal yard work!  The past 2 weekends Drew and I have cleared out truckloads of ivy and sticks.  Yesterday I also filled 2 trash cans with magnolia tree debris (those clumpy things that look like pine cones but they’re not) from our back patio.  You know it is not a good situation when you are raking your patio…


How do I know our Landscaping was designed in the 60’s?
landscape plans2

elevation plans

Because the original plans were left with the house – dated 1964 & 1965.
It’s seriously one of the coolest things.
There are architectural drawings of the landscaping design & elevation plans.

We have even used them to identify weird things and answer random questions (“Where does this drain come from…?”).

I like them.  At some point I plan to have them framed.

And why this sudden yard-work / torture exercise, you ask?

1. The “We just moved in” card is expired. It’s my favorite one to play, but it’s been a year. I don’t think it’s going to work that much longer, even though some of the work that this house needs it taking that much longer. As you can see from the before shots…

ivy pics

2. Neighbors are commenting. OK, only two of them. Bold? Maybe. But to be fair it was more of a “wow you’ve got yourself a lot of work to do here,” and “the previous owners really neglected this ivy and it’s crawling over into my yard now,” and “did you know that we have free brush pick-up brush on Tuesdays?”

3. The ivy is trying to kill us. I wasn’t joking about it taking over things. If you stood there long enough, it would eat you. We actually found lawn furniture in it. This weekend we found 2 umbrellas. I can only imagine what we’ll pull out of it next. I just hope it’s not a body, but I can’t say I would be surprised. I have no doubt it’s going to be a fight to the death, and so far the ivy is winning. But Drew and I plan to gain some points over the next few weeks. Plus I have a lawn service coming out today to take a look at it. We will prevail… one way or another.

before_exterior (7)

4. I love the boxwood in our yard, but they totally need some TLC:   A)  They’re too tall. They need to be shorter.   B)  When we pulled the 1 ½ ft deep ivy out of the first bed, we discovered that boxwood were totally bald at the bottom. Nothing was growing for at least 2 ft above the ground. It was like a weird bush / mini tree hybrid thing – and not in a good way! Basically it looked like it needed help.

You can tell how good our grass looks in this pic, too.

You can tell how good our grass looks in this pic, too.

So we cleared the ivy out from the first bed in hopes to un-smother the base of the bushes. Then, I cut them down on top to a reasonable height and pruned out all of the old leaves so the sunlight would reach the base of the bushes. “Pruned” may be too polite of a word. My husband said that it looked more like a buzz cut. Result: They look horrible. They look worse than they did before, which is hard to believe. Am I surprised? No. I expected this. I read that it takes a couple of years, but Boxwood will grow back if you cut them down at the right time (early spring). Now since there’s no telling how old these may be (50 years…?? I hope not.), we will see. I either killed them or helped them. I figured I had nothing to lose, so whatever. I can feel our neighbors judging us, though.

My 70-year-old neighbor keeps stopping by to tell us how impressed she is with the amount of crap that we’re pulling out of our yard and that she “approves” of our progress. This is 1/3 of what we pulled out of these beds. It’s all ivy and boxwood clippings. And we still have a long way to go!

2013 Feb-Mar 009

Wish us luck!


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