All in a year’s work

Back in September 2009, we moved into the house that we currently live in.  The house, itself, had its own share of major and minor issues, and the front yard was well enough established that it wasn’t a terrible eye-sore.  BUT it was the backyard.  The backyard was our nightmare in waiting that needed the biggest overhaul.  Our entire property is only under a half an acre, and one would never think so much work would be necessary for such a seemingly manageable size yard.  But it was necessary! Everything, I mean everything was hideously overgrown and out of control. There was no grass, either.  Mud and  moss was our “lawn”, and wild ginger grew in the areas were there wasn’t any moss.  Non-native “Amur” (exotic bush) honeysuckles invaded the entire floor of the wooded areas.  They had grown into the size of small trees with large canopies, blocking sunlight from hitting the ground and allowing any native plants to grow.  It looked like a jungle, and I felt as if I would suffocate when I approached the backyard.  A sense of dread filled me when I looked at it.  Fortunately, the positive thing about our yard is the trees.  There are numerous gigantic tulip poplar (my favorite) and maple trees throughout and tower high above everything including the house.  I love these trees, but sadly, wild vines (Virginia creeper, grape and poison ivy and oak) had grown high into the trees for so long, it was nearly impossible to pull them all down and out of the tops where they had become mangled in branches.  The first order of business was to kill the vines attached to the trees before we could remove them.  My husband went around to each tree and cut the vine at the base were it grew from the ground.  When the vine died, we would pull it off the tree and yank as hard as we could to pull it out of the treetop.  Sometimes, my husband and I would yank together as if to play a tough of war with the tree.  Once the force of our pulling was so strong, we both fell to the ground after a heavy tug on a grape-vine that had grown in a group of maple trees.  I guess you could say we won even though we probably looked stupid, but we did what we had to do.  Most of the vines are gone now, but some of the larger grape-vine stems still hang down because they are too entangled to pull out.  One vine is so large you could swing on it like Tarzan!  My thoughts always go back to ask, “How on earth could the former homeowners allow this overgrowth to go unnoticed?  They must have never stepped outside!”  It is so pathetic to know that someone never took notice!  From the neglect with many things in the house, I shouldn’t have been so surprised with the condition of the backyard.

In the spring of 2010, the extensive project to clear out our woods began. Over the course of a year, my husband and I (mostly my husband) have worked tirelessly to make our backyard more pleasing to look at and free from poisonous vines, to which we are still trying to eradicate. 

The following are before and after photos of the progress we have made.                                    

The left side of our backyard as seen from the deck  – fall 2009  


Now in late spring 2011


A fully grown rhododendron that was concealed within overgrown exotic bush honeysuckle.

The right side of the backyard – spring 2010  

Clearing the wooded area in September 2010

The right side of the backyard in May 2011.

Of course, there is still more to be done, but I’m thankful that the hardest part is out-of-the-way.  There is one side yard section to still tackle, but it is full of poison ivy and oak and I am NOT going near it.



Filed under blogging, family, home, life, nature, photography, science, thoughts, trees

10 responses to “All in a year’s work

  1. WOW. WOW! Your efforts have been serious – and have made a huge impact! GREAT JOB! I feel your pain. We had to do vast undertakings in our backyard after moving in – the flowerbeds around not just the house (which I’ve blogged about) but the whole perimeter of the property – even an enormous island of overgrowth in the center of the yard – all had to be ripped out. It was grueling work. Thankfully, the yard is now flourishing. We have two large fern gardens, which had been covered by volunteers and weeds previously – and have also found a lovely rhododendron which like yours had been covered. It gives you such a sense of satisfaction, doesn’t it? Knowing that this hard work is making such a difference, making it YOUR HOME. You have such a beautiful property, Tammy!

  2. Thank you for the encouaging words, Christy! Yes, we have worked extremely hard and it is rewarding when we can see results. But I can still always find more to do around here. It will be that way as long as anything green grows. 😉

    I has taken some time , but it finally feels like my home.

  3. Backyard with numerous joys and potentials. Your family put a lot of heart into it and it’s turning into a beauty. How cool is it to see the change in colors of the trees as the Season changes.Great post.

  4. Such a lovely garden! Gorgeous purple flowers! Well done you lot!

  5. I was just reading Daily Dishes gardening woes and left her my struggle, so I’ll spare you my rant about bushes. However, I will tell you that I admire the hard work you are doing, and wish you the best of luck.

    You are smart to stay away from the posion–my old boss pulled hers out, and had to go to the hospital, because she touched the broom handle without gloves, then went to the bathroom. You can imagine what she touched next. OMG, right? Let that be a gentle reminder to always wash your hands before and after you pee!

    • Thanks! I need to head over to Dishy’s site to see what you said. 😉

      I cannot imagine having a rash…down there… YIKES!
      I’ve been careful to stay away from the poison. So far so good.

  6. I think I’m a hero for pulling a few weeds in my driveway … obviously I’m not in the same league as you. Good luck with that nasty poison ivy.

    note: nothing is poisonous in my yard … except that cyanide container. hee hee!

    • Believe me, you don’t want to be in this league. Some days, I much rather pull weeds out of a driveway.

      I’ve learned my lesson with the poison ivy (after the second rash).

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