Thursday, July 2, 2015

My rather public shame

 We moved from a condo in the Chicago suburbs to a house in Kentucky 10 years ago. This is the first house I've lived in since I was 5 years old, and I love my house.

 It's a fine size - big enough to house a family of 4 (with the addition of a family member or two here and there,) but small enough to clean (when I feel like it.) It is mostly brick, which is nice, and the shutters are green, and we all know that green is my favorite color. We haven't done a whole lot to the house, and there are definitely some bits of maintenance that really should be done, but all in all, I love my house. And my favorite part is the yard. We have a 1/2 acre, mostly flat (which is unusual in the Ohio River valley,) and I would rather be outside mowing the lawn or doing other outside-y things than cleaning inside. Unfortunately, I have some problems.

Here it is, my not so secret shame. Considering that it is in front of my house, it can't be much of a secret. I am a mess when it comes to time management and landscaping - hence, the jungle of my front yard. Let's add the fact that I tend to kill things - I prune over-enthusiastically, or I plant a bizarre assortment of things, or I just ignore everything, which is what has happened over the past 2 years.
This was a Bradford pear tree planted by the builder. Yes, you'll see that it was planted approximately 2 feet from the house. Bradford pears grow to upwards of 26 feet tall, with a large canopy, so our pear spent most of it's life with the back half pruned off to keep it from rubbing destructively against the gutters. Bradford pears also tend to be structurally weak, since their canopies are too large to be supported by their trunks, and they grow so quickly.

Last September, a freak storm tore down 1/3 of the tree. We had wanted to get rid of it for years and never bothered, so Mother Nature took care of it for us. My brother-in-law came over and took down the rest of the tree using his chainsaw, and carted off the wood, which was lovely. Do you know what happens when you cut down a Bradford pear without taking out the stump? It doesn't freaking die, oh no. It just starts shooting off all these little baby branches. So, I guess dealing with the stump of my nemesis, the old pear, is #1 issue with my front garden area.
Then there is the fact that I never prune the holly bushes, or any of the other bushes, for that matter. They grow like crazy, and grow together, and it's all crazy. There used to be 4 holly bushes, I appear to have killed 2 of them, I don't know how. Last year I pruned most of the burning bushes, but I couldn't reach the top, and I asked my husband to do the rest, and he never did, and I never got around to finishing them, and now they are these insanely overgrown, monster shrubs. And the weeds. Good Lord, the weeds. It's gotten to the point that I think nothing short of a flame thrower will deal with the weeds.
When I was staying home with the kids, I was still not a fantastic landscaper, but it didn't look like an Amazonian jungle. I kept it "sort of" in check, although I still always managed to kill things. But now - I've been back to work for years, and I still haven't figured out time management. Admittedly, I do read books, and I do like to go out from time to time, but I can't seem to figure out how to finish much more than dishes and laundry.
All this is to say, I have let this get out of hand, and now it is so overwhelming. I'd like to take out the stump (and all its pesky babies,) Put in something appropriately sized, get all the weeds cleaned up, trim the shrubs to a manageable level, and make everything lovely.  I'm not sure how to do that, or how not to kill everything, or how to find the time to do it, or what to plant, although the people who lived there before had some carpet phlox that I absolutely loved, when I weeded enough to let it grow. My neighbors have been awfully patient with me, but they can't love living near this insanity.

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