Aspiring Landscaper: Welcome to the Jungle (Part 1)

overgrowth-natureBy Wes Annac, The Annac Blog

Ever since I bought my house, my yard has been a jungle. We have enough overgrown plants, bushes, and small trees to start a nature preserve. I used to prefer it this way, but lately, it has taken a toll on my fence and the siding on my home. Not to mention that my neighbors probably don’t love driving by my small jungle, with trees and bushes in the way of the stop sign that sits at the corner of my property.   

This year, I want to do something about it. Instead of letting my yard grow to the point that it looks prehistoric, I’d like to trim back most of the trees and bushes, take some of them out and plant some food or flowers in their place. I’ve become exhausted with cutting thick vines out of my fence; it’s long time I get rid of them and grow some plants everyone will love.  

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have the time to make my yard look as nice as it used to (more on that later). Between writing, working a part-time job, and trying to spend time with my family; there just aren’t enough hours in the day.  

My solution is to combine my time spent writing and working on the yard by making a “yard restoration” series here on the blog. I’d like to take you on this journey with me, so you can see my process of transforming my overgrown yard into something a little prettier and more manageable.    

First, a disclaimer:   

  • I am a total beginner who does not know at all what I’m doing when it comes to landscaping  
  • I cannot guarantee this series will get off the ground  

It all depends on what I can learn, the progress I can make, and the time I’m willing to devote to this project – one that will undoubtedly interfere with my ability to write about topics I normally cover here.    

Before I show you the photos of my yard from last summer and the progress I’ve made this year so far, here’s some backstory on my yard and why it has been so crazy for so long. If you’ll allow me to indulge in a cliche, I’ll switch to my Rod Sterling voice for dramatic effect:   

Imagine, if you will, a retired old fellow with an empty yard, a love for nature, and nothing to do. The man spends his days planting pretty bushes and flowers on every square inch of his property, to the point that he gains the attention and love of the neighborhood. His is considered one of, if not the prettiest yard in town.   

As it always does, life moves forward without regard for the man’s age or mortality. This retired fellow pours his remaining time and energy into his property before passing away, leaving his wife to move elsewhere and his yard to grow, grow, and grow some more. His once-majestic property, with its seemingly endless colorful bushes, flowers, and trees, slowly falls into disarray as it is left vacant for many years. It ceases to be a sprawling yet carefully maintained slice of paradise and instead begins to resemble the grim, unsettling forest just outside of town.    

Fast forward to 2013, when a young writer with stars in his eyes purchases the jungle property and moves in with his wife and son. He is infatuated with the overgrowth and decides he wants to keep it as it is; telling himself that if the time comes, a little elbow grease is all he will need to whip the property into shape.

Now, the young writer is on a quest to make his yard resemble – even if only slightly – the work of natural art it once was.

Will he succeed? Only time will tell…

In summary: the previous owner was a retired man who planted things everywhere – and I do mean everywhere – because he had decided to live out his retirement planting and gardening. It is a respectable way to spend your last days, but once he moved on, there was nobody around to maintain everything he had grown. So, the property sat uninhabited for years until we bought it and inherited all this overgrowth.  

I shared some pictures last year of how bad it had (once again) become. I’ll share them here to give you an understanding of what I deal with every summer.   

Ordinarily, I would appreciate untamed nature. But when you’ve been dealing with this level of overgrowth for so many years, it starts to get a little overwhelming. I used to romanticize the thought of my backyard resembling the wilderness, but as you can see in the above photos, it comes with consequences.   

With that lengthy introduction out of the way, here are two photos of the progress I’ve made so far this year. I’ve only just started, but I’ve made significant progress in the one patch I’ve been able to get to.

In these photos, you’ll see a patch at the end of my driveway that is a lot cleaner than it was before. It was previously covered in old firewood from a tree we had to cut down after silkworms killed it. I left the firewood there for many months until the vines covering my fence began to overtake it. I don’t have any photos of what it looked like before, but it was so overgrown that I expected to uncover a small city of snakes when I started moving the logs. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.  

I moved the firewood to another part of my yard in the hopes that if it’s in good enough condition, I might actually burn some of it in our firepit this year. Then, it was time to get to work cutting the vines out of my fence and trimming the overgrowth on the ground. I didn’t want to mow in that spot because I didn’t want to fling rocks everywhere, so instead, I took my electric trimmer to it. It worked surprisingly well; I was able to trim down most of it and pull out the rest. Then, it was time to take the trusty rake to the vines and weeds that remained on the ground.   

So far, my ol’ rake has been my best tool for getting rid of the overgrowth on the ground here. It took a little work and plenty of patience, but with my rake, trimmer, and pruners, I transformed a viny pile of firewood into something resembling an actual driveway.

A few days later, I cleaned up some trash that had accumulated in the area near the front of my carport and raked/trimmed the rest of it. You can see above that it doesn’t look perfect – there are still some vines and trimmings that have been cut but not yet cleaned up – but it looks a lot better than it did. Not bad for a few days worth of effort.    

This is what I have so far: a much cleaner patch at the end of my driveway. My plan from now on is to take pictures of each individual area before I clean it up, so you can compare how it looked before to the hopefully improved way it will look after I’m done. I’m focusing on one area at a time so as not to get overwhelmed; mine isn’t the biggest yard, but it is decent-sized and there will be plenty to do in the summertime when things start to really grow. (Edit, a few weeks later: now that it’s getting hot outside, things are already starting to come in thick).

If you want to see more, feel free to support this series by liking this article and sharing far and wide. For you landscaping enthusiasts who know a thing or two: I am open to any advice you may have on this. I don’t know what I’m doing, so if you have any tips or tricks that have worked for you – or want to show some love, support, or even criticism, drop a comment below.   

If all goes as planned, I’d love to make this landscaping project a bigger part of what I do here. If nothing else, it is an excuse for this couped-up writer to get outside this summer instead of sitting in my cozy air conditioning.   

In the meantime, thank you for your support and the patience you’ve shown me as I figure out what content I want to make this year and try to commit to a solid writing schedule. I plan to write more for Openhearted Rebellion this summer as well, so check that space for new articles that cover topics like spirituality and the insane things happening in the world.

I will hopefully be back soon with a part 2 in this series, but for now, wish me luck as I try to figure out how to turn a messy yard into a not-so-messy patch of nature that won’t destroy my home’s siding.    

Peace!   

Wes Annac =)

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