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Summer’s Last Big Outdoor Project

Welcome All and Welcome Back…

Today’s blog is a chronicle of our last big outdoor project for the Summer.  Our backyard is in three fairly small sections with the above picture showing the largest piece that runs parallel to our detached garage.

When we first built our house 21 years ago, we planted a line of three arborvitae evergreen trees alternating three barberry bushes.  The first of these to go was a barberry that was removed very early on when we put in our small pond and fountain feature.  The rest have survived until this summer when a squirrel decided to build her nest in the closest arborvitae.


Apparently she wanted a sunroof as she systematically removed large sections of the evergreen, sections that would never grow back.

It was the final insult to these old trees and bushes.  The middle arborvitae was looking a bit lumpy already and the barberry were on my list for execution anyways (I will never plant another barberry in my yard again -those things are MEAN).

Still, the decision to remove the row was a big one as these have been a green and pleasant ‘wall’ separating us from our two neighbors to the south for many years and it was going to look very different there for all concerned.

But we had made up our minds – and we already knew what we wanted as replacements so a trip to our favorite nursery was next.


This is a row of four young ‘Hardy Pampas Grass’ in 3-gallon pots.  They are about 4 feet tall already and 2½ feet wide.

I was surprised that at this time of year we would find four really nice specimens as usually the nurseries are pretty wiped out by late summer.  I chalk this up to a plus in the Covid column.

Let the destruction BEGIN…


…by virtue of a hedge trimmer and chainsaw the first assault by early morning light sees barberry #1 reduced to a knot of bare branches and a swath of naked poles on the front side of the first arborvitae.


Chains, a ‘come along’ and the sturdy trunk of our locust tree and the first barberry is about to get wrenched out of the ground.


Thanks to my guy’s tool knowledge, the backbreaking work of hacking everything out with an ax is considerably reduced to hacking out a few stubborn roots.  Still, I’m sweating my socks off just doing cleanup – this man puts men in their 30’s to shame at over twice their age.  He just keeps going.  The best I can do to feel like I’m accomplishing anything is keeping him hydrated with plenty of water refills.


The other two trees get a limb job and the other barberry is just about to get pulled out.  Bella, of course, inspects every stage. Smokey is nowhere to be seen. But check it out…there’s neighbors over there!  And, we’ll be able to see our bird feeders again!

Before we go any further though…we dig up the hostas with nice root balls and set them off into some deep shade until we decide where they’ll go back in.


Late morning has both barberries gone and the heat floating into the high 80’s.  But the arborvitae give us some last patches of shade to work in in farewell.


The chainsaw is about to go to work.  Already, our yard looks twice as large as it was.  It’s easy to miss over time how trees can out grow there space, it was time for a change.


The middle arborvitae is all trimmed out and ready to give up its roots hold in the earth.  The come along does the heavy pulling but wrenching the lever back and forth takes far more muscle than I’ve got, that’s for sure.


And over she comes and out she goes!


Pounding the dirt out of the root ball gives us back a substantial amount of soil and decreases the weight of the lower section of the tree which is pretty important when you go to lift it into the back of your pickup (well, Subaru Baja, in this case).


And now it’s the end arborvitae’s turn.  When we first were married back in ’74 this guy was a logger.  I know playing with power tools is always fun for him but actually we bought this little Stihl chainsaw just for this job and though it’s been years since he’s worked with one, old skills are always there.  It takes talent to cut limbs to fall the right way and all these large sections fell right into our yard – not the neighbors.


Wow…it’s a whole new look.  So much open area now.  Well, that was enough for one day and this is where we call it quits after a solid day of hard work.  Tomorrow, we’ll be back at it bright and early as the temperature promises to go up a few more degrees from today and the day after will see us into the triple digits!  We want to be done before that hits, for sure.


The last arborvitae looses its upper story.  When we were logging, I used to ride with Rock (he was a log truck driver) and I loved the smell of the woods both up in the mountains where we got loaded and down in the town at the mill for unloading.

We moved on from logging within a few months back then, and then the industry went through a tough time.  But now we all know that forestry, logging, is an essential part of a healthy forest.  But having been there and seen it up close, I’ve always known when done responsibly, logging is an amazing business to be a part of.

This project reminds me of those days – the smell of wood and evergreens…wonderful.


But check out this last big piece – see how it’s leaning towards the neighbors?  Yep, it twisted perfectly as he cut the angles and dropped it down into our yard.  Cool.


These trees were 18 to 23 feet tall, that’s a lot of tree.  In all, it will take us three trips to the dump where all this will get turned into mulch and sawdust…the circle of recycle.


The next arborvitae to be uprooted is the one at the far end of the yard.  He’s using the last, front tree stump, to work the come along from.


Pretty sure this maneuver isn’t OSHA approved (it wasn’t really approved by me, either, for what it was worth).  But he did manage to pop loose a few more stubborn roots and the fence narrows the directions the stump can be pushed and pulled to get those roots to let loose.


And the FINAL trunk to get removed.  Whew…I really got exhausted just watching, Ha, ha.

I also missed getting a good shot of everything out before we started putting the new plants in…darn it!


Nothing’s dug in yet but each spot has been prepped with a bag of organic compost and some slow-release fertilizer.

Each plant gets positioned and when we like what we see – in they go.


This might look a little sparse compared to the mass amount of greener that was their before.


And oh my, get a load of all the neighbor views!  This is certainly going to take some getting used to.


It also looks like there’s too much space in between each plant, like maybe we could’ve used five of these instead of four?


This is a picture of our front “Hardy Pampas Grass” that’s two years old.  This plant is eight feet wide and nine feet tall – and it’s not done yet.  These grasses send up towering stalks that end with huge tufted plumes – so another 2 -3 feet to go!

So when those four plants out back hit their maturity next year or the year after that we will, again, have a wall of green.

Plus, these plants gently wave in the smallest breeze and dance wildly when the wind really blows.  Where the arborvitae were always covered all summer long by spider webs that you just couldn’t get rid off (and looked pretty gross) until the fall rains came, spiders don’t even bother starting webs in these grasses – they move too much.

So we’ll watch these new beauties this end of summer and fall where they might give us another foot or two of growth, and then next year we’ll be anxiously awaiting the amazing ‘charge’ of growth these tough and beautiful plants are known for.

Thanks for joining me, I love sharing my view of the world with you.  Please stay safe and healthy. – Kriss



2 thoughts on “Summer’s Last Big Outdoor Project

    1. Fortunately, we spend most of our time out back up on the deck which is out of their line of vision and blocked with a wall of bamboo. I’m just loving how I can see the bird feeders again – yeah!


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