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.