"Before" picture

"Before" picture

Saturday, July 17, 2010


We've killed a lot of plant and tree life on our property in the last eight years. It's not that we're cold blooded, just that circumstances required it. For example, the previous homeowner, who was maniacal about landscaping and privacy, planted juniper bushes along the right-hand side of the driveway. Besides the fact that junipers smell funny and make us itchy, they were encroaching on the driveway and scratching our cars. So we pulled them out the first or second year we were here. Goodbye, junipers (except for one, but I'll get to that later).

Then we built the garage and an awesome tree ended up having to come down. For that I continue to be very, very sorry. Next to it was/is a much less healthy and attractive tree that got to live on only because its trunk was lucky enough to be a few feet further from where the corner of the garage needed to be. I wish their positions had been reversed.

Years later we collaborated with our neighbors to take down a couple pine trees on the eastern property line because they seemed dangerously close to falling over during wind or ice storms. We've been seasoning the wood, which is good for outdoor fireplaces, and one piece that's a large, flat circle may even become the neighbor's new outdoor bar table some day. If we can figure out how to do it and they still want to by then.

Today we worked on removing the enormous rhododendron that was growing next to our front door.

The rhodo had to be moved because it is where a set of stairs down to the driveway will ultimately be. I chopped around the base with a shovel to loosen it from the ground, and then Ken took over for the fun part. Here's what happens to a rhodo after it's tied to a truck and the maniac driver hits the gas:

And here's the path of destruction leading to the rhodo's new home along the western property line (that's the rhodo in the right-hand quarter of the picture; Ken gave it a good trimming to fit it in its new spot):

Assuming it takes well to its new home, this is one lucky plant that won't have died at our hands. And thankfully our neighbors are OK with it's new location right next to their decorative grasses (thanks, J&T!).

Then Ken moved on to a juniper that has been sitting at the corner of the house (you can see it in the picture above) since we bought it, and he has always hated it. Now that that corner needs to be accessed in order to put new siding on the house, he was able to fulfill his vendetta:

The new gaping hole where it used to be:

Now we are officially juniper-free. If anyone wants this thing, come and get it quick!

When it cools off a bit tonight, we have one more job out front to tackle. We need to remove all these shrubs from in front of the bay window (yes, those are our snow shovels and the kids' sleds by the front door; so much for putting things away--they were hiding behind the rhodo all this time):

The doomed shrubs are occupying the space where the new front porch will be some day soon. We'd been planning to pull them out with the truck and offer them up to anyone local who wanted to grab them this weekend and replant them in their own yards, but then Ken wisely remembered that some of them are near the natural gas line. Not something you want to go messing with, just in case their roots have entwined around the pipe. So instead of yanking them out, Ken will have to break out the chainsaw and cut them as close to the ground as possible. Then we'll need to apply some root killer (ugh, my conscience hurts) so they don't start growing back. Whatever we can gingerly dig out without risking a collision with that natural gas line, we will remove.

It does seem wasteful to murder a handful of very healthy (ahem, overgrown) shrubs, but they are also holdovers from the previous owner, and while they've served us well for eight years, they are not part of the scheme of things to come. I don't know yet what we'll put around the new porch, but I want it to be simple, uncrowded, and easy to maintain. Ken and I don't have a whole lot of time to trim billions of shrubs, weed planting beds, or carefully weedwhack around those sorts of things. We used to try, but once we had the kids we gave up all hope of keeping up with what the previous owner had planted around here.

We murderers are currently taking a break from the heat to get some other stuff done. Tonight the row of shrubs meets its grisly fate. Mwahahahahahaha.


  1. I love reading your blog! LOL RIP shrubs, I'm sure they are happy in bush heaven ;-)

  2. Landscape with ornamental grasses, cone flowers, potentilla, salvia, Russian sage, monadra, spirea, daylilies and evergreens like dwarf mugo pine, globe arborvitae, cardinal dogwood, and dwarf blue spruce shrub. All these are super low maintenance and cold hardy. And most can be split for additional planting in the back yard down the line. Except for the planting part, the landscaping will take care of itself! :). Let me know if I can help you with a landscape plan.