Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Excising ...

Last week, sometime, I cut my grass. Some years, I can reliably cut my grass one day a week, the same day, usually, and that's that.

But not this year. Oh, no. This year, the combination of fertilizer and excessive rain have led to a grass explosion. My lawn is like Jiffy Pop.

So I was cutting my grass, sometime last week, and as I cut the swath in front of my shrubs – my massive, unruly, overgrown yews – I decided, "These have got to go."

I've meant to get rid of them for years, actually. I've never been fond of them. Left natural, yews are very pretty plants, but somewhere along the line, someone decided that yews should be trimmed into shapes, like boxes or spheres or Ding Dongs. As a new homeowner, I tried to keep them contained, in shapes vaguely resembling Dumpsters, but I gave up the gardening ghost where my yews were concerned. Not because they had beaten me, but because I needed to step between the yews and my house to cut the back part of them, and I had no idea what was living in that space, and I didn't want to find out by feeling it crawl up my leg.

My neighbor William is a landscape genius. His yard, I'm sure I've mentioned before, is that yard that is camera-ready, all the time. One winter, when he was bored because he couldn't be outside in the garden (which is also tended to by his wife, Rhonda, and their son, Shane), he drew a landscape plan for me.

It's a beautiful piece of work, but I never installed it, partly because I someday want to alter the front of my house and would have to dig up much of what he called for, and partly because I didn't have the ready cash.

And then, a few weeks back, it dawned on me that the money I needed for the plants wasn't going to show up as long as the yews remained. But if I got rid of the yews, I would effectively open up the channel for the money to flow.

And so, last week, I decided that it was time for them to go. And I knocked on the door next door and asked Shane if he could help me get rid of them or recommend someone who could.

And Sunday, as I was watching "Barefoot Contessa" and noshing on a handful of almonds, the doorbell rang and Shane asked if it was OK for him to start working. He had some time.

So, I met him outside and I cut the grass in my parkway while he fired up his chainsaw and started slicing branch after branch. With the parkway cut, we dragged bundles of branches out the street, so the city could come by and collect them later.

Start to finish, it took him about 30 minutes to cut them away from their trunks.

Thirty minutes to rid the front of my house for something I'd been ruing for the better part of nine years.

We spent about three hours, all together, cleaning up debris, digging out a long-forgotten brick border, cutting the stumps as flush to the ground as possible. Shane wields a chainsaw with surgical precision. His work is immaculate, which I appreciate.

So let that be a lesson to me to make room in my life for what I want, to rid myself of what I don't. One can't come while the other stays.

Now, I have a blank dirt canvas. Shane has advised me to live with the openness for a while, to really think about what I'd like to plant, not to feel any pressure to hurriedly fill the space we just created.

Now, wide swaths of possibility flank my front door.


Blogger Jeff Hunter said...

One can't come while the other stays.deep.

6:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you planning on digging up the roots? I understand that many bushes can just grow back.

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was thinking the same thing. One time my Dad removed some bushes from our yard. The ground was pretty wet, and he loosened it up with a shovel. He put a chain real tight around the bush, right at the ground, then attached the other end of the chain to the garden tractor. Hit the gas, and it pulled that sucker right out of the ground, roots and all. Messy, but thorough. And pretty exciting, if you're 4 yrs. old.

Those bushes NEVER grew back.

9:23 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Nope, we're not pulling the stumps out. The shrubs were planted, a long time ago, relatively close to the house. In case the roots have come in contact with the foundation of the house, we don't want to disturb them and possibly disturb the foundation.

Once we grade the area with dirt and cover that with mulch, nothing should grow again.

9:36 PM  

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