I am not a gardener by any stretch of the definition. My parents enjoy telling the story of how I grumpily told them as a teenager that I was going to live in an apartment high up in a skyscraper so I’d never have to pull weeds as an adult. I didn’t end up in that apartment, however, and my feelings toward yard work hasn’t changed. We are on our second suburban house with loads of planned and beautifully landscaped garden beds. In fact, it’s probably pretty safe to say that we have twice the square footage of garden space that needs to be maintained at this house than what we had at the old house. Cue the sad trumpet noise!

Because I haven’t spent much time in the yard since my forced labor as a kid, I can’t identify very many plants nor do I know much of how to take care of them. Join me this growing season as I explore the jungle that we bought! I’ll make some guess, use Google a ton, and ask people who know more than me and hopefully not kill off everything in the process. By recording my work here, I hope to have a long list of completed projects that I can be proud of by the time snow flies later this year.

I headed outside today to start attacking the mess that is the front landscaping. Our house was vacant for several months last spring and we didn’t move in until the heat of summer when I was already uncomfortably pregnant so much of the yard hasn’t been weeded for more than a year. My goals for this afternoon were to get as much cleaned up during Ben and Teddy’s afternoon naps as possible including:

  • Trim the last of the ornamental grass before the new growth takes over
  • Cut back the butterfly bush in the front yard
  • Trim whatever else comes back as new growth in the front bed
  • Pull out invasive grass and tiny maple trees still growing from last spring

How much did I get done, you ask?

This is what the corner of ornamental grass looked like when I started and…

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…this is what it looked like when I was finished. I cut out last year’s growth, cleaned out the remaining dead leaves, and yanked out the surprise baby maples that were hiding under the leaves.

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I don’t know what this plant is (do you?) but it grows from new growth every year so I needed to cut off all the dead stuff from last year.

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This is how that area looks now that the plants are uncovered. I can’t wait to clean up the edges of the garden and put in mulch to keep the weeds from taking over!

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This is our butterfly bush. It has gorgeous purple flowers when it blooms and caps off the western end of the garden bed. It is another plant that sends up new shoots every year so everything you see in the photo had to be cut back. This was intimidating to me because some of the branches were an inch thick!

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Here she is in the lower left corner! I cut off all the sticks from last year, dug out a surprise maple tree hiding inside that had gotten to nearly 3′ tall (yikes!), and pulled out the chunks of wood that had started rotting and were soft.

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I worked on the middle of the garden bed but didn’t make as much progress as I had hoped. The bed is supposed to be kidney bean shaped but the middle was choked with invading grass. Grass in the yard = good, grass in the garden = awful!

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I got about half of the grass removed before I started running short on time and needed to move on. There wasn’t a whole lot to uncover under the dead grass except a few lily bulbs and what might be hostas. I’d love to widen the bed a tad through the middle and add a few more flowering plants that can handle full sun yet this year.

IMG_6132As a bonus, I dug out two more 2-3′ tall, self-seeded maple trees that were growing along the north side of the house and tested to see how much effort it would take to clean up the bed below our eastern bedroom windows. The answer, a lot of effort! Depending on how sore I am when I wake up tomorrow, I may have another post ready soon!

 

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