After my last post's diversion into useful gardening information, I am back to my "don't do as I do" didactic method. Four months, two chainsaws, two axes, two loppers, one root jack, and 3,500 brown refuse bags later, I have cleared out the world's (or at least the northern hemisphere's) ugliest hedge, which I affectionately dubbed the Beast.
This hedge, about 40 feet long by six feet wide by eight feet high, dominated our yard. It was large and ugly, and probably some variety of invasive ligustrum. I was never able to get an accurate identification. Over time, it didn't matter. Every time single I turned into our driveway, I muttered, "I hate that hedge." Now that I've got a teeny tiny bit of gardening knowledge under my belt, growing and alive are no longer prized-enough qualities for a plant to remain in my yard.
The hedge's only slightly redeeming quality was the privacy it offered between us and the neighbors. Almost two years ago during a rash of daytime burglaries in our neighborhood, it hid me as I checked on a suspicious person in my neighbors' yard. When I saw that person kick in their front door, the Beast hid me as I slowly and quietly retreated into my house to call 911.
(Unfortunately, the hedge was of no help to the police dispatcher who gave the motorcycle cop my address as the one being burgled. He tried to sneak up on the burglary in process but ended up at my back door drawing his gun on me.)
But I digress. I didn't hold the hedge responsible, but I also didn't like it any better.
So finally, after years of hating it, I decided to remove the hedge.
I started by trimming it with loppers. That would have taken the rest of my life. Next I used our chainsaw. Piece of crap. MSS of Zanthan Gardens loaned me hers. Much better chainsaw but it still struggled with the Beast.
The wood (or whatever the branches were made of, I think perhaps titanium) dulled the chain quickly. I sharpened it many times, replaced it, and then still wore out the new chain. When I returned the saw to MSS, I included another new chain.
A friend recommend a root jack, which was moderately successful. It might have worked better if the stems weren't so close together and if there weren't 5,000 of them. See that brown bag in the photo below? You know how tall those are, right? Notice how the pile of branches is taller than the bag?
Once I'd cut down all those branches, I still needed to dig up the roots. My first ax, with the improbable slogan "quality digging tool" lasted only ten minutes, before it bent at 90 degrees. (My second ax, purchased at Callahan's, survived the entire demolition.)
I think it had something to do with the size of the roots. Notice the Pabst Blue Ribbon bottle next to the roots? I use it not to just to show how enormous the roots are but to show how long this hedge has dominated the yard. I'm not entirely sure, but this bottle looks like the ones my father used to drink from when I was a kid. The bottle is just one of the many things the Beast swallowed. The photo at the top of the post shows some of the other goodies tucked under the Beast. My favorite, however, has to be this almost complete plate,with a cute floral pattern.
Then I found a fork, and everything began to make sense. Years ago the neighbors were dining al fresco in their driveway, someone drank too much Pabst Blue Ribbon and tried to stab his or her dining companion with a fork.
The attackee tried to defend his- or herself with the plate, and oh, forget it.
So clearly tackling the Beast was challenging my mental as well as physical health. (I must apologize here to MSS for tweeting about cutting my leg while working on the Beast. For a moment she was afraid that I had cut myself with her chainsaw and not my loppers.)
I took a brief break to recuperate and look what happened: this evil &*^%$ grew back. I had cut those suckers down to within an inch of their lives, and they did not care.So finally, (I know what you're thinking, finally, really, finish already) with some help from my husband, we finished removing the Beast this weekend.
Because this project took way longer than expected, I wasn't able to plant the new area. I did transplant some underperforming bamboo muhly into the area, as well the world's tiniest mountain laurel.
I plan to add some more plants in the fall. Until then I covered the area with weed barrier and mulch. I hope that the the evil hedge doesn't grow back.
As you can see, I'm still a few bags of mulch shy of a full load, but then again you already knew that, didn't you?
I also have the rest of the hedge to remove. That's right, all this time, blood, sweat, and tears has been for only half of the 40 feet. I've still got another 20 feet to remove!
We've left it temporarily until we build some sort of privacy screen or at least build window screens for that side of the house.
A couple of years ago I got a bid to remove the hedge and install a walkway. I found the several thousand dollar bid too high. Now I think the bid was too low, just to remove the hedge.
So, please use my experience as a cautionary tale. If you ever get a crazy notion to remove 960 cubic feet of hedge by yourself, stop and reread this post.
You and your loved ones will thank me.