Gardening : Some Triumphs and Some Tragedies

September 19, 2011 07:29 by ehouston

My outdoor “To-Do” list is off the charts right now. I was hoping for a little more warm weather before having to trudge around the yard, cleaning up all the gardening and other messes.  I guess I should be happy that I won’t be baking in the sun while straightening out this space before winter sets in.  Not only did I put together a small veggie patch this past spring, but I also toiled away at planting 16, yep, 16 Leyland Cypress trees around the property.  We have a fairly wooded lot, especially for a neighborhood.  We have wooded sections on either side, out back along our fence line and out front in between the ends of our circle drive.  We love having this added privacy, especially since we live on the main road into the neighborhood.  These wooded areas consist mainly of large and small deciduous trees, mostly of the oak variety.  Interspersed among these trees are several regular long needle pines, cedars, and many mature Leyland Cypress trees.  We also have a couple of dogwood trees and crepe myrtles in key areas for color and bloom.  The rest of the yard pretty much has small, very neglected boxwoods, azaleas, iris plants and lilies.  The previous owners clearly had some initial landscaping completed and then proceeded to do nothing going forward.  While we loved the idea of having all this space and “stuff” to work with, we did not have a very good understanding of the time and/or budget commitment our yard would take up.  So, we have proceeded with caution on both fronts when it comes to changing and maintaining the grounds of our home. 

Late last summer and early this spring we had a sudden decent in the ranks of the Leyland Cypress trees.  Here are some pictures of our backyard from early this year.  You can see the trees we lost are almost completely brown when I took these shots and since the leaves are off the other trees you can also see the views we want to block.


View to the left.


View straight toward the middle.


View toward the right.

We lost four very large Leylands out back and a huge, story and a half sized tree from the front yard. This was really quite devastating to us because to truly replace what we lost would be in the several thousand dollar range and would require bringing in large equipment. Neither bringing in the heavy equipment to make the fix, or living without the privacy the bushy trees yielded, was an option for us. So, as soon as the sale papers arrived touting the 4 to 5 foot Leylands on sale for $16.99 I jumped at the opportunity to get some screening going ASAP!


View toward the side yard, before.

After walking the yard several times we decided 12 trees would do the trick to start. I actually began the monumental task of all this planting by adding two trees to our side yard to begin the buffer between us and the neighbors.


View toward side yard, after.


Closer view of the side yard trees through the fence.  They actually grew a good foot taller and wider just this summer.

We love these neighbors and they are good friends, but we don’t enjoy looking onto their deck and screened porch while sitting out on our deck in the evenings. Plus, the sounds from passing cars out front seem to be amplified as they come into the backyard in between our houses. We figured two fast growing, bushy evergreens would cut both the view and noise in half within the next couple of years.

Then I planted the other 10 along the back fence and in the empty spots from their fallen comrades. Before I even finished the planting, which took a couple of weeks of afternoon naptimes, we realized we needed at least 6 more to fill in all the gaps everywhere else. And, those last 6 took another couple of weeks to get into the ground because I was just flat, exhausted!


View of the left side after removing the large dead Leyland and planting three along the back fence.


A little bit closer shot of the plantings and part of the view we want to block.  That’s our left side backdoor neighbor’s garage, driveway and back of their house.  They also have a shed with a HUGE pile of yard waste behind it.  They don’t see it, but we do.


View of the middle section of the backyard, including the back of the left side neighbor’s shed and massive stick pile.  You can also see some of the dead new trees in this shot.


View of the right side after removing the dead tree from the front of the bed and planting two trees along the back of the fence.


Here is a close up of one of those newly planted trees on the way to tree heaven.

Now, with the weather changing we need to get out and do that last minute clean up before we start being pummeled by the falling leaves. And, before winter really sets in. We were also considering adding some other trees and bushes to our yard to help round out the landscaping, add more privacy and some interest. While doing our research on new and different varieties we have discovered that we should not have replaced the fallen Leylands with more Leylands. Apparently there is a disease in VA that is killing them all- great! We have also noticed that several already appear to be succumbing to that disease- Double Great!

This week I have added, “remove the dead and dying Leylands” to the “To-Do” list along with purchase and plant some new stuff. Luckily I still have my receipts from Lowe’s, and luckily they have that lovely 1 year warranty for plants. Thank God! Now, it’s on to Camelias, Stevens Hollies, Skip Laurels, Accubas, Wax Myrtles…anything that will grow in mostly shade and not keel over on us within 6 months. While I am not looking forward to all this hard yard work, I am excited to see some new things out back and hopefully lose the view of my neighbor’s discarded stick pile!

So, what are you guys focusing on in your yards right now? Planting or just removing the spent stuff?

Kitsch Krafts

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