Last night, I made plans with myself to get rid of these gigantic dead bushes:
It is important for me to mention here that in order for me to snap this photo, I backed into the aloe vera plants that are blooming alongside the sidewalk and the blooms are attracting bees, which I conveniently forgot about until I was in danger of being stung. Thank you; back to the photo. The shrubs on the ends are the same type, I’m pretty sure, and the one in the middle is called a heavenly bamboo. I know it isn’t dead. But it is gigantic. These bushes were absolutely perfect to cling fake spiderwebs to for a creepy entryway for my Halloween party. The rest of the year, the house looked like no one lived here because the bushes are so wild and unkept. They also cover so much of the front window that it looked like I was trying to hide something. I hated the way they defined the house, that someone who lives there can’t take care of their things. I decided it was time to cut them away and see what I could do with them. I started by checking out websites on how to prune bushes. I don’t want to kill them, just tame them a bit. I finally ended on an article titled “How to Prune a Bush” by Callie Barber. I also read a little bit about pruning citrus trees. Apparently once every year or two is frequent enough for those kind of trees.
So this morning, after I got the boys to school, I made a trip to the hardware store. I am now the proud owner of a pair of gardening gloves with thick leather at the palms to protect my hands, a pruning saw, little plant clippers, and a trowel. I also desperately want to transplant the jasmine into the ground, to explain the last item listed there. When I came home, I realized how perfect the weather was today for such a project and chopping dead bushes to bits. It was bright and sunny but there was a wonderful breeze, sometimes wind, blowing. The bush at the far right of the photo was completely dead. No growth, no nothing. I hacked off some of it several months ago to kind of jumpstart my compost, mixing in the dry elements with whatever else was in there. If you’d asked me two years ago what a pruning saw was, I would not have had an answer for you. This thing is my new best friend. A few of the articles I read last night mentioned it and as soon as I saw that phrase I knew that’s what I was missing; bear in mind the formerly out of control citrus trees out back. It quickly got through all those dead dusty limbs. I started by cutting off the huge chunks and when I tried to stand up to start on the higher branches, I discovered an innocent mini cactus entwined in the left knee of the jeans I was thankfully wearing. I also rediscovered this irrigation system that goes to each of the bushes out there. I don’t know how to reconnect it to a water supply but I will figure that out sometime. I don’t mind watering plants around the house, but as we all know, I suck at it.
After I finished with the first shrub, I moved to the one at the far left of the photo. Its dead limbs stretch across the heavenly bamboo. As I cleared away the unnecessary branches, I found that there are actually two bamboo bushes there: the one that is extremely proportionate to the size of the entire house and then a much smaller one which I assume has stunted growth due to the gnarly brush around it. I got to a point as I chopped where I just had one tall limb left that kind of stretched toward the center of the yard. I honestly considered keeping it because it had new growth on it, but heck, why not just dive in. So I’m starting over with that one.
That left the heavenly bamboo. Which is a monster. I had no idea where to start with that. It’s named after bamboo because it has long straight shoots like bamboo does; it’s not actually bamboo. But it grew to be maybe eight feet tall at the most and there were more stems at the bottom of this thing than I honestly knew what to do with. I started with the dead parts of the plant, then moved on to the really tall parts, then to the parts that were extending all over the yard. There was still a ton of plant there! I took out several branches in the middle that were tall and continued to shorten it until I could see over it. I must have taken about half of that bush down. The pile of branches in the yard was huge. Lastly I cleaned up the new growth at the very base of it. I saved a few pieces and potted them to try to create new plants. So after all that crawling around on the ground and snipping and hacking and sawing and snapping, I pulled the twigs out of my hair and the back of my shirt and I was left with something like this:
It kind of reminds me of when I give my dog a haircut. He looks younger and fresh, he can see, and I want to play with him. You can kind of see in between the two bushes that are left is the small heavenly bamboo I mentioned. After all that was cleared away, I turned around and really wished I had a wood chipper:
This does not include the remains of the dead bush on the far side from the first photo. Those branches I tossed behind me, toward the side of the house. At this part of the day, it started to get very windy outside so the large branches that were just laying around started threatening to blow away into the neighbor’s yard and possibly down the street. I started jumping on them and breaking them apart, especially the larger pieces, so as to get them to be less airborne (read: tumbleweed-like). The remnants took up most of the trash can. I stood over the trash can breaking branches apart (gloves on!) and shaking the can so that they’d settle in there. I also composted some of the heavenly bamboo, just for the sake of room in the trash can. I didn’t think about it before, but not having all that dead decaying plant life to see when I look out the window was very refreshing. The front room is much brighter now with a lot of it gone and I’m not as worried someone’s hiding in there waiting to attack me. Just have to get the rest of that stuff picked up. It doesn’t help that there are also still a bunch of weeds out there that need to go in the trash too. Also, I was not surprised or attacked by anything crawling around. The only living thing I found was that baby cactus with my knee. And it’s still safe and sound out there.