Saturday, April 13, 2013

Spring Break Gardening

Most of my students came back from spring break from exotic and warm locations.  Our spring break wasn't nearly as sunny. I really don't have an aversion to sunshine, and wouldn't have minded a day at the beach.  Still, I loved our staycation just the same.

You see, we had these seriously hideous bushes in the front yard.  Maybe they weren't hideous, but they came with the house, were pretty hollow, pretty big, and a lot more maintenance for looking so mediocre than I really cared to invest.  Bottom line, they just really didn't do anything for our front yard. We decided to pull them out.
Pulling out 8 very old bushes turned out to be a bit of an adventure.

Step 1: Use large pruning shears to clear out most of the branches.  Use smaller pruning clippers to cut branches down so they fit in a lawn bag.  (after getting frustrated with the dumb bags, learn that bundling the limbs with twine is far more time efficient).

Step 2: With a shovel, clear dirt from roots around the base.

Step 3: Attach log chain to our truck's tow hitch. Wrap other hook around base of bush/roots.  I think this is the point where I started to feel just a little redneck about the whole process.

Step 4: Drive forward, preferably in 4 wheel drive.

Step 5: Reverse truck and repeat until bush is pulled.
Our first bush, which was on the very hollow and lean side  pulled out with just one good tug.  This feat really suckered us in to feeling invincible.  The remaining three we took out that day were by far less willing to be removed.  There was a bit more patience, shoveling to loosen roots, wrapping the chains lower and lower around the base, etc.

It took us two days to rip out all 8 bushes.  In truth, we usually didn't get started until after little man was at his afternoon session of daycare.  Another afternoon was spent amending the soil with some organic fertilizer and top soil from family friends.  Then planting and mulching.

We planted a boomerang lilac and japanesse maple in the corners.  The boomerang lilac claims that it will bloom twice, which is exciting.  I've always liked lilacs, but was never able to plant them growing up--my father is allergic. We planted a couple phlox, hoping they will slowly fill in as ground cover.
We also planted blueberry bushes, which I am super excited about. They are bushes, they flower, they have fruit... what's not to love.  At least it's a front yard plant that has a purpose!  We have three different varieties, Tophat, Bluray and Northern Chippewa.  The tophat came from a local garden center, while the others came from a big box store.  I'm curious to see how they turn out.

I'm a little worried to have planted outside so early, and we have had some coolish weather.  I'm looking forward to warmer weather, when the garden centers will have a greater selection.  I think I'll likely add more lavender, and a few hydrangea to fill in.  I may even plant a flat of annuals, just for color.