What prompted this burst of gardening energy? Someone finally bought the vacant lot next door. This lot has been a source of anxiety to us for years. Because of the odd configuration of our property (our driveway was originally the street, that the city never put through to the busy road that borders our neighborhood) we worried that whoever built on the lot would want to use our driveway, rather than access the property from the busy street. Indeed, one woman who was interested in the lot repeatedly insisted on accessing the property from our driveway, even after I told her that it was private property and that we would not allow her to use it. After our final confrontation, she left in a huff and didn't buy the lot and I emailed the real estate agent and asked him to please tell his clients that they could not use our driveway. (We went to the city about it, but they have not been able to definitively confirm or deny that the driveway truly belongs to us, although our survey certainly includes it within our property boundaries.)
We seriously considered buying the lot ourselves. Jon felt it would be a good investment. However, it has a tendency to flood and the steep grade plus the fact that it fronts a busy street all made it seem like an unattractive property. Plus the fact that we can barely keep up with the one lot we do own.
A local builder finally bought it and he is building a modern-style house on it. It's not a huge house, so that's good. We're mainly relieved that it's not a tacky Ryan Homes faux farmhouse. And also that he hasn't tried to use our driveway. He placed the house so it's not blocking our light or views. Now our only worry is who will buy it. We just don't want neighbors who will harp at us about our overgrown yard or our dogs.
|The new house in various stages of construction.|
|New house as it appears today|
|From the front. The gossip is that the asking price will be $450K.|
That yellow house behind is mine.
|The fig tree. It had been completely hidden under trumpet vine and grapes.|
Two years ago, it was mostly dead, with a few feeble shoots.
I didn't think to take photos at first, and it's not like the "after" shots are anything great anyway, since the yard is still a mess. However, I did get pictures of the side yard, shown below.
|Side yard before|
|Same space after weeding.|
By the third weekend (yesterday) I had progressed to the back corner, where grape vines almost completely hid a huge cedar tree. I had this idea that I could use our pole tree trimmer to hook the vines and yank them out of the tree. Like most of my ideas, it worked better in theory than in practice. When watching someone's inept handling of a tree trimmer, it's incredibly difficult to resist the urge to snatch it out of their hands and do it yourself. So Jon showed remarkable fortitude in not trying to take over.
|Then this happened. The extension handle broke off while I was tugging with all my strength.|
I tried climbing on a rickety kitchen stool, so as to get a better purchase on the vines, but to no avail. Then I used the full force of my body weight to pull and ended up literally swinging like Tarzan, (and shredding my hands) and still the vines didn't budge. So I gave up. For now. I've severed them all near the root and I'm hoping that after a week of wilt, I'll be able to yank them out of the tree.
|It's hard to see, but the crown of the cedar is still covered with vines. |
Before I started this job, you couldn't even see the trunk. Nor could you see the house behind us.
|There's still a lot of work to do|