August 02, 2015
Town Work on Road
The town has been working on my road replacing culverts. They finally got to mine. It looks much better as before it was heavily overgrown with poison ivy and wild, invasive roses.
The water going into the culvert is extremely rusty - weird, since it looks clear up further (top of pic). Maybe it is from the culvert they took out.
Wish they had taken this tree. Most of the green you see is poison ivy
Hopefully this means that they plan on repaving soon.
Brightening up a Dark Spot
Last Sunday I continued work on the no mow zone. I planted more hostas, lilies, a Little Henry Sweetspire and foxgloves. I covered some areas in landscape fabric then began the long process of shoveling pea gravel into the cart, moving the cart, then shoveling pea gravel back out (didn't want to damage plants by dumping the gravel). My last several trips I was able to dump the cart along what will be a pathway thru.
The pea gravel pile was definitely much smaller when I got done with that portion. The dead grass shows where the pile was previously. What isn't apparent is that the pile is not as tall either, so more is gone than what would appear.
Yesterday, I started tackling the stump; removing large roots. I have an idea to keep the stump as a "feature" (much as sometimes is done with large rocks that would be too much trouble to move), but I don't want the roots heaving. Nor do I want them in the way of future work in the area. I have gotten about 1/2 way thru removing the main roots. It would be much easier and faster to use large, mechanical machines, but I work with what I have. I did use the chainsay to separate the roots from the trunk, but everything else is done with hand tools. The first picture is where I started from (I had actually started getting the sod away from the stump last weekend). The rest are of the progress I made yesterday..
I was so glad it was only in the 70's - and with that, I still had sweat running into my eyes. I am hoping to continue work today, but it is supposed to get near 90, so I am unsure how much will actually get done. Plus, most of my calluses were worn off (I stopped earlier than planned because of that), so don't want to end up with all blisters. And no, I'm not the glove-wearing sort, wspecially on hot days.
July 25, 2015
Mulching With Stone
After receiving irises from Cop Car, I decided it was time to finish up the flower bed under the bay window in the front of the house. So on Sunday, I set to it. To remind you of what that portion has looked like to this point:
I left the lilies there, removed the planters with roses, cleaned out any weeds that had dared crop up since I had last worked the area, and covered the back portion with landscape fabric. The section between the foundation and the lilies is a good two feet wide, so I shouldn't have anything crowding the foundation.
I filled in the areas next to the landscape timbers with a sand/dirt mixture. I had moved some of the cleaner excavated sand/dirt to a pile at the side of the house, so used that to fill in. Once the dirt level was where I wished it to be, I started planting.
Along with irises, I have gathered several perennials and shrubs during my wonderings thru CL, from a former neighbor (stored in the extra raised bed until I was ready to use), H*me Dep*t and other places. Most I got for free, or for $2-5 as distressed plants (amazing what a bit of water will do to revive them). When I was done, hostas and delphinium were at either end of the lilies and a penstemon was next to the stairs. I placed most of Cop Cars irises and some creeping phlox sprigs in front of the lilies.
Once the plants were in, I started hauling pea gravel from the two yards I had delivered a couple of weeks ago.
The lower portion, to the left and next to garage isn't done yet. I was hoping to do that during the week after work, but spent all my time waiting for contractors to show up to give bids for remodeling the bathroom. Maybe I can get it done this weekend, but have more contractors and rain to deal with, so we'll see what happens.
July 19, 2015
Flowers from Kansas
Cop Car promised to send me irises from her gardens in Kansas. - and she delivered quickly. Friday a box of plants was waiting for me when I got home.
The group in the front, right are dwarf, root-beer colored irises. The rest are a mixed bag (we will all be surprised - which is great!).
They aren't flowers yet, but they will be in a year or two. Thanks Mom!
July 12, 2015
$75 of Fun
Got a work out yesterday; starting at 9 AM I mowed, then I spent quite a while playing with my latest acquisition from CL - a chainsaw. I got it from a woman who had only used it to take down about 20 saplings. Then she acquired a boyfriend that had 2 chainsaws, so it wasn't needed any more. The saw is in great shape (almost new looking) and easy to start. She only asked half of what it would have cost new, so I jumped on the deal.
I cut down one of the lilacs, trimmed up several more, then cut down a huge forsythia. None of these had been touched for years. The lilacs have all old, gnarly wood and the forsythia was trying to take over the world, and the oak tree it was against.
When I was done I had 4 loads of branches to take to the dump
This is the first load of branches. The back of the Jeep is packed so tightly that with a lot of tugging, I got it all out in one "piece". Note the leaves sticking out of the hatch. Although the hatch closed, it wasn't tight and the dash complained that it was open. I took it easy on the way to the dump so any potholes I hit wouldn't jar it enough to get the hatch to pop.
Who knew you could have so much fun?
Smells of the Season
Going riding today - first a HOG meeting in Concord, then wherever. Supposed to be the hottest day of the year, with a lot of mugginess, so work on the yard or house is not on my agenda. But, I do have some rose pictures to share from the last two weeks.
Queen Elizabeth (just starting to bloom - this is the only flower so far - lots of buds though)
All have a wonderful scent; Easter Basket is more fruity, Europeana is very perfumy and QE is classic rose scent. QE is also, at this point, developing powdery mildew, where the other two's foliage is just fine. Good to know before I get them panted in the ground. Want to keep it a little away from other roses, and have other plants block off some of the view of the leaves. Not a problem, I haven't come up with a plan on where they are supposed to go anyway :)
July 04, 2015
No Mow Zone Redux
Two weekends ago, I added on to the no-mow zone. I worked my way up the hill since the idea was to extend the existing flower garden all the way to the fence. The crab apple and Hydrangea trees, which reside in that garden, needed to be pruned hard, which I did once I got to the branches that were in my way..
Project from start to finish
A week ago Friday I got some plants installed
Still plenty of planting to do, but feel like I'm making progress. And yes, just this project has cut down on the time it takes to mow by 10-15 minutes. I know that seems to be a lot, but I don't have to deal with the tree roots or boggy ground, or getting along the rocks that delineated the edge of the original flower garden.
Oh, and I relocated some of the moss that I pulled up. It may or may not survive (it is in a drier place), but that is a place that not much else grows anyway so I really don't care one way or another. It is a spot just above the no-mow zone, so I wasn't carting it clear across the property to where I have been dumping the rest of the excess dirt/grass.
June 14, 2015
No Mow Zone
The side yard next to the next door swamp stays pretty wet at all times of year. It is a bear to mow, but I have to keep it clear as there is poison ivy just on the other side of the fence. It is also pretty shady, except for a couple hours in late afternoon.
I have decided that will be a no-mow zone. In other words, shrubs and perennials need to be installed and any bare spots mulched to help keep the poison ivy from encroaching. I am taking the no-mow zone from the existing shade garden (where the crabapple is) to the fence. The first order of business was to remove the sod that consisted of a mix of grass, catmint and moss. This is the strip that I dug out last Sunday.
The first row I planted was (l-R) Bleeding heart, hydrangea, coral bells and another hydrangea. The lilies next to the fence were already there from the previous owners.
The second row is tall phlox, peony, primrose, dwarf goats beard and Japanese iris. Note the big root between the coral bells and the pink hydrangea.
Yesterday, I started another row and ran into a massive amount of roots - most from a stump. So, I spent 3 hours pulling up sod and digging out roots. I need to get all the larger roots out; if I ever try to pop the stump, the roots will have to be removed anyway. Better now than having to tear up plants I'm putting in now.
I did get turtleheads (front left of top picture) and a couple more primrose planted, but I'm still working on getting the roots out from the rest of the section I uncovered yesterday. This will definitely be a long process.
Now that I have a cart to move dirt, I can really hurt myself make some progress on yard work. I was taking so much time transferring buckets of dirt (it doesn't take long to get 50 pounds of dirt, especially when it is moist), that even simple jobs looked like I was getting nowhere.
The first job using the cart was to dig out the big rock that was against stump #3. I was not only digging the rock out, but also lowering that part of the soil level in general as it overtopped the stone retaining wall. At the same time, I had to be careful of the Japanese Knotweed so I could bag that, and all the roots I could find to take to the dump. I had saved empty mulch bags and filed 4 of those with the weed and roods, with any dirt I thought was contaminated (fill is a misnomer - I put in 30-40 pounds of dirt/weed/roots).
With the rock finally uncovered, I could see that it wasn't going anywhere without more muscle than I have - or at least the help of machinery.
Needing to cover that area with plastic (to keep any missed weed roots from growing back), I had to do something with the rock as it topped the retaining wall by quite a bit. No problem, I dug a huge hole next to the retaining wall (storing the dirt in the cart), and spent about 30 minutes with a pry bar and several pieces of wood getting it to slide into the hole (was hoping I could roll it - but that wasn't happening).
So the big rock now buttresses the retaining wall and the level of the dirt along the retaining wall has been lowered.
June 07, 2015
Putting it Together
After removing stump #3, and starting to define the flower garden in front of the house - and moving dirt slowly by carrying/dragging buckets of dirt to the side yard last week - I decided there had to be a better way.
Actually, I had been thinking about getting a wheel barrow previously, but the price for two-wheeled barrows is really quite high (even on CL), and a single wheel barrow would be tough to move and navigate in my uphill and extremely bumpy yard. But knowing the amount of dirt I would have to remove, sealed the deal - I had to look in earnest.
Somehow I stumbled upon the notion of a dumping yard cart, I believe it was an ad from a BBS, and the research began. I looked at the reviews of the featured item and did not believe it would serve my purpose. However, I did some research and found what I believed would be the best value for my money at TSC. Happily there is TSC a couple of miles down the road from work, and I went to check it out at lunch time.
The cart I was looking at touted a handling capacity of 600 pounds as well as the ability to convert the handle from a hand pull to a towing hitch (not usefull for me presently, but could be handy in the long term). However, they also showed a 1,000# cart on the website. When I got to the store, I was in for a surprise - a 1500# capacity that was on clearance for the same price as the next size down.
After checking out the feel of the bed, to see how sturdy it seemed, I had the largest one loaded into my car. That night I began assembling it in the basement (it was raining, had been raining since Sunday, and wasn't supposed to quit until Thursday morning). I got a box of parts (no surprise) and an instruction manual.
The instruction manual and container of hardware were pleasant surprises. Despite being made in China, apparently the writer of the manual not only had a great command of the English language, the writer also did a great job of indicating the hows of assembling. Additionally, the assembly illustrations were clear (except one), there was a chart of hardware shown in ACTUAL size; one complaint that I usually have is if the hardware is mixed up, I can't tell what bolt is a specific size until I sort everything and compare to the other sizes. The hardware was in a package that kept everything separate and labeled both on the front and back of the package. Someone really thought this out for users that are not a natural born tinkerer!
The manual said I should be able to put it together in 20 minutes. The reviews, although positive, warned of more like 1-2 hours. I put it together in 1 hour and 10 minutes, so felt good that I at least was amongst the average.
I put the cart to good use yesterday and am very happy with it.