Yesterday was cool, dry, and overcast; a superb day for yardwork!
I had in mind planting a few veggies and flowers, but a neglected back corner of the yard caught my attention because a long-forgotten weigela shrub (1 of 3 originally planted) was struggling to bloom among the shady underbrush of unwanted tree saplings, vines, briars, and a single will-not-die asparagus plant from my original 20' row planting 25 years ago. So I got out the loppers and waded in (carefully, as I also spotted a few small poison ivy plants).
The first thing was to cut down all the saplings. Trickier than you might think, because that corner seems to be the last refuge of the nasty thorny locust trees that originally covered half the backyard. They have thorns all along the trunk and branches like 3/4" needles, and they will grow back from being cut down 4" in a year. They are very hard to handle, and harder to kill. I once read that the original colonists used cut trunks as fenceposts (the wood is rot-resistant and the trunks grow straight) only to discover that the cut trunks would re-root when stuck in the ground!
it took a while, but I managed to clear the surface of all the bad
stuff, and I discovered a 2nd weigala barely surviving at a foot high.
With the additional light and less competition for nurients, it should
recover. There was no sign of the 3rd weigela. I'll have to take a few
stem cuttings and get them rooted in pots.
After that, and being in a clearing mood, I decided to tackle the forsythia growing into my flowerbed border from another neighbor. Those forsythia, though outside my fence, are entirely my fault. My street was built brand new in 1986. I was only the 3rd house built on my street and my neighbor was the 4th. She was elderly, friendly, and sneaky. There were not borders then and the property lines were uncertain. She noticed that I would mow any part between us that she didn't, and she gradually left more and more. So I planted a row of forsythias to mark the assumed property line. When I decided to build a fence (to keep the large off-leash dogs out, for cat-safety) I discovered pipes marking the corners of the property. From the plat measurements and compass directions, I figured out the property lines.
On my father's advice, I inset the fence 18" to allow myself legal access to the outside of the fence for repairs. That was the dumbest advice I ever followed, but more about that later! Anyway, I asked the neighbor lady if she wanted me to leave the forsythia and she said yes. I have regretted that ever since. Each year, forsythias pop up on my side and some years I am too busy to get them out. Well, when I planted them I didn't know they spread.
I usually just keep cutting them off at ground level, but this year I decided to get in there and dig them out. I used my "poacher's shovel" (on right).
So I first pruned most of the forsythia canes away so I could see the rooted stems and dug them out carefully one-by-one. It took 2 hours! At least I have most of them out by the roots. The remaining ones are growing up through the roots of 2 shrubs I have disliked for years and plan to remove later.
The pile of removed forsythias does not look like much, LOL! But each one was an effort. I had to stand awkwardly to avoid stepping on wanted plants, the shovel handle would hit the fence, there were forsythia roots among the butterfly bush roots, etc...
I'm going to try to kill the forsythias. As the canes grow through the fence, I will cut the cane and put a dab of undiluted Roundup on the cut end. It worked for the thorny locusts...
I got a lot more done, but this is long enough and I'll finish tomorrow.