Back yard progress report #2

It’s late July. We’ve installed the edging around our lawn oval, taken up about half of the sod outside the oval, and cut down the Amur maple in front of the fence.

Back yard progress report

Looks kind of awful right now, but there is a plan, really!

1. The yard waste bin is a permanent feature for now. Oh, well.

2a. The freshly cut Amur maple snag sticks out like a sore thumb, but it will blend in once it weathers a little and is surrounded by plantings.

2b. The dead Amur maple branches will go away soon.

Back yard progress report with labels

3. The pile of buckthorn should be going away soon, although there’s lots more to cut behind the fence.

4. Need to do some lawn re-seeding this fall. (It was patchy before we started trampling all over it to cut down trees and lay edgers.)

5a, 5b, and 5c. The main issue right now is that cutting down the Amur maple in front of the fence revealed just how bare our evergreen trunks are (two white spruces and a white pine). There’s also another Amur behind the fence (5d) that should go. I’ve asked a couple of tree services to come out and give us their advice.

Seems we’ve also got weedy white mulberry, Siberian elm, and an ash. We’ll have the ash taken down this fall while it’s still healthy. (Apparently it costs a lot more to have one taken down once it’s been hit by emerald ash borer, which is, apparently, inevitable.) We might take down the elm, which is leaning quite a bit, and the second Amur maple. One of the arborists thought there was a good chance the pine trees would fill in, at least a little, now that some sun can reach the trunks. Here’s hoping!

[Edit 10/19/17. I’ve learned that ash trees can be treated if they aren’t already infected, or only slightly affected, by emerald ash borer, so we may do that instead of taking it down. I would love to get rid of the Siberian elm and white mulberry. It’ll be hard to get equipment back there (plus, expensive!), but they’re shading out the crab apple and apple tree on the slope. In the years of ignoring the hill behind the fence, I forgot those were even back there because the buckthorn was hiding them. This fall, now that the buckthorn is gone, we can see flocks of robins and cedar waxwings feasting on the tiny crab apples.]

 

Back yard progress report #1

When we moved into our house in 1998, there was an old metal swing set in the back yard that was too rickety and dangerous to keep. The sandbox, however, got lots of use.

Linus and friend in the old sandbox

By the time this picture was taken (around 2008), we had put up the fence and installed planting beds all along the east side of the property.

Now that the kids are older, we took out the sandbox and expanded the planting bed along the back property line. Unfortunately, this is what it looks like right now.

Back yard bleah

It’s nicely filled in over to the left, although the whole yard is in need of more shrubs and structure in general. I scattered some wildflower seeds last fall in the section from the middle to the right, but not much has come up (yet). The tree on the right side of the picture is an Amur maple, an ecological threat according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR – Amur maple). Ours had been dying out in the middle for a while, so cutting it down is an easy choice. We plan to leave about 10 feet as a snag.

We cut off only a few branches with the pole saw, then made more progress with a reciprocating saw with a 12″ pruning blade. We’ll be borrowing a chain saw for the rest. It’s a bigger tree than I thought when we started! (There’s another one behind the fence, too. Yippee.)

Trying out the pole saw

We had installed part of a planned mowing strip by the raised beds on the east side of the yard last summer. This summer we’re planning to finish an oval to contain what will remain of the lawn in the back yard.

Back yard oval lawn in progress

Trenching and lopping …

Trenching and lopping

Eventually the west side of the back yard will contain paths and plantings instead of turfgrass and bare dirt. (There used to be a swing hanging from the locust.)

Back yard dirt patch

I’m not sure exactly what’s going to happen back here, but I’m thinking of native shrubs (nannyberry, chokeberry, pagoda dogwood, etc.) and lots of woodland/savanna plants. I’ll let you know how things are coming along in a future post!