So we started our first year focusing on getting the house and yard to a maintainable level. You see our home was a flip property which was wildly overgrown with random plantings, out of control wild blackberry and grape vines, widespread Poison Ivy, dying or dead trees that leaned out over the yard, scrubby overgrowth, patchy yard, and poor drainage to boot!
Unfortunately, we lost most of those pictures when my husbands phone needed repairs and we sent it to Samsung on the manufacturers warranty. What neither of us knew was that when you send in your phone to a company for repair they wipe out all of your saved data on your phone and take it back to a factory reset state. Since my husband does not use systems like Google to back up his pictures and videos, we lost most of our before pictures, a lot of photos from our wedding, and over half of our honeymoon photos. So remember that if you have to send your phone in for repairs, BACK UP YOUR PHONE! LOL.
Anyhow, I did manage to pull some pictures from the videos my husband has made for his fellow veterans that show how overgrown the tree line was.
My husband has such a serious face because the video’s he has recorded and tried to publish to Facebook are mostly related to veteran concerns, anxieties, and depression that afflict so many military veterans. Since leaving the military and losing one of his best friends and battle buddy to suicide he has had a passion for posting videos and encouraging veterans to seek help via the veterans suicide prevention hotline.
Among some of the smaller projects we worked on before we got married and I moved in was trimming up the huge bushes at the back of the deck. I have no idea what kind of bushes these are but they were growing through the railing and were gnarly looking. So they got trimmed up and topped off so that they might be more presentable. In the far right of the picture you can see the bane of my first year, the Crepe Myrtle tree.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love Crepe Myrtle trees. This Crepe Myrtle tree was especially beautiful with vivid pink flowers wrapped in a somewhat enchanting way with English Ivy. However if you haven’t had much experience with Crepe Myrtle trees and English Ivy, you wouldn’t know how much work both of them caused in addition to the poor placement of the tree itself. The Crepe Myrtle tree was the bane of my first year of marriage in that it was planted so close to the deck originally that when we bought the house it was beginning to grow into the edge of the railing. Nevermind the fact that, 75% of it’s branches reached over the porch and house, while at the same time its roots were starting to reach the foundation.
So not only were we looking at potential foundation issues in a few years but we were also dealing with flowers, leaves, and seed pods constantly littering our deck, walkway, and gutters. Oh and the English Ivy? It was so intertwined into the tree that it was beginning to kill it while it also started reaching out into the garden bed and yard.
So like anyone interested in saving their house and sanity, we took the tree down… even though it was spring before we could get to it. My husband meanwhile took down about 20 trees and hundreds of yards of the wildly overgrown vines and thorns.
When this was all accomplished we were left with about 20 feet of bare dirt all along the edge of the woods and far reaching into the woods. We then went to work planting grass seed along the edge of the woods to help with drainage, soil health, and the overall look of the property. Here we planted deer grass. We chose deer grass and clover for this area because Deer grass and clover actually improves drainage and soil health.
The cost of this grass ran us about $75 dollars. But as you can see the grass grew well over the winter months and filled in the area quite nicely. The wood pile you see at the back of this picture was piled up from the trees we took down. Our property drops off quite severely along the back edge of our property so we wanted to fill in the drop off some while adding protection and refuge for the local deer and wildlife population with the creation of these thickets of sorts.
Inside the woods where my husband thinned out the overgrowth of the forest we were left with rich healthy bare soil. With it being heavily shaded we decided to plan Black Beauty tall fescue as it is a hearty grass with a deep root system that thrives in mostly shaded areas. This Grass seed was approximately $50.00 a bag at Ace Hardware, but it only took two bags to cover about 1/4th of an acre.
As always, preparing your land to be self-sustaining is not easy, so I hope you find the inspiration and encouragement you need in this publication to begin your journey to a healthier and more beautiful self-sustaining life.
The Upstate Gardener/Crafter