Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Out of Retirement

I know, you didn't know I was in retirement right!?!  Well it was one of those things that sort of befell the blog.  It was neglected.  It was forgotten.  I apparently retired it and didn't tell anyone.  I was content to let it go.

But like actors, ball players, and musicians everywhere, I've decided to make a comeback.  I should start with something big, maybe with fireworks.  So here you go.

Okay, now that that's taken care of.  On to the blogging.  I've had a busy Summer.  A good chunk of it has been spent on the yard.  I've made three flower beds where there were none before.  I have planted the garden, mowed the lawn faithfully, and tackled the plethora of tree stumps in our yard.

When we moved in three years ago, this is what one section of our yard looked like.  I wish that I had a better shot of this.  Something that could show the whole thing top to bottom. It was just...well amazing.  Impenetrable.  A section of forest.  Someone could have set up camp back there and we'd have never known.

It happens to be the section that I have been removing stumps from.  I have taken out no less than 23 stumps from our backyard.  Some big, some small.  Some will have to be professionally removed because they are just too big.  So of the ones that I can do myself I have 5 to go.  This has taken me all summer thus far and I honestly can't wait to get the last 5 out and gone.  Some tricks that I have learned about stump removal:

1) If at all possible, don't cut down the trees, get a truck and a chain and pull them out because then the stump comes with it and no need for removal or buckets of sweat for years to come.  Had I known this three years ago when we moved in... Oy.

2)  Since I didn't know about the glory of tree removal by truck, we had lots and lots and lots of stumps. So the next step, or first, is to prune the snot out of it so you can see where the stump actually is without the camouflaging effect of wannabe branches.

3)  Next dig all around it, nice and deep.  Depending on size you can start prying them out with your shovel and some of them will actually come up!  I think 2 of mine did... early on so that I thought it was easy and would keep going.

4) After you've dug and hopefully located the major roots get your handy dandy pruning sheers and clip em!  At first I just tried to chop through them with my shovel.  That is stupid.  And hard.  My pruners are much sharper than my shovel and it goes much much quicker.  I'm pretty sure I had 7 stumps under my belt before I learned that little trick.

5)  Now that you've cut the major arteries, pull the sucker out!  If it still won't come then position yourself ground level, feet towards the offending stump, place your foot (either one, I prefer my right foot) on the stump and start kicking the tar right out of it!  This does 2 things.  First it helps you get some anger out at having to still deal with the stump and your own stupidity at not getting a truck and a chain in the first place; you can even grunt if you want to.  Second, it shakes more dirt loose and you can often find the one major artery that slipped by the clippers making it impossible to pull out.

6) Now you can truly remove the stump! After clipping the artery, stand yourself up, brush yourself off and pick up that stump.  Hold it high for the world to see and declare your victory!  "Down you offending and badly placed tree!  May your remaining roots rot!"

Too dramatic?  Well it's kind of what I felt like doing.  But mostly I just threw the stump to the side and laid on the grass while I caught my breath.

This is what that section of yard looks like now.

So how there's a fence?  At the tops of the pine trees that you saw in the first picture, well there are three of them.  Well actually there were 4 but we took one out last year when we FOUND it!  That's right, entire trees were living in our yard that we didn't know where there.

Here's another shot.

It's not really all that great still, but before the summer is out we hope to have most of that area under the trees converted back to grass with a bench seat underneath the pines and maybe some Virginia Creeper along the fence line for a bit more privacy (since we cut the privacy right out).  Which means 5 more stumps and a whole lot of digging and tilling the ground to get things evened out.  Oddly taking out 23 stumps leaves a few holes.

What have you been up to?  Any cool gardening tips?  I need all the help I can get!


  1. I clearly need to come see it!

    1. It really is quite a mess, but is so much closer to being ready to have something intentionally done with it. Feels good to have an end in site. AT least on that side of the yard. :)

  2. Holy cow, I feel like a wuss! You are my gardening hero...can't wait to see it finished!