I’m back from a week away at a conference in Bozeman, and while I was gone the walkway project was completed – at least this portion of the work. As you’ll see, there’s still some things that need to be done (grass! gardens!).
Out front, we have a lovely red stamped concrete pathway that goes all the way from the street to the front door.
It leads right up to the front steps and the patio area up here is now slightly larger than it was with the pavers.
On the side of the house, we went with a regular concrete (less spendy!), had the pathway moved out farther from the house and widened, and added a horseshoe-ish path going on either side of the garage to the existing slabs.
We also had all the downspouts buried (in the yard [dirt] you can see the green pop-ups where they’ll drain when it’s raining) while we were at it.
This horseshoe-ish shape means that when we have folks over, they can park on the slab in front of the garage and have a walkway to get to the house instead of having to traverse the alley (which is dirt) or the grass. The areas between the garage and the horseshoe will be gardens rather than grass.
We also have a much better walkway to the back gate. The gate was moved over along with the walkway, so it’s all farther away from the side of the house – before it was so close you felt like you were going to run into the house with your elbow if you weren’t careful. And the window well back here was a huge hazard! No longer!
That window well is now well back from the pathway, hooray! I’ll also be planting in this area between the walkway and the house. I need to decide what to plant there. I don’t want anything that will climb up the house (remember all the horrible tenacious vines that we cleared off the house? Remnants of the roots are still clinging to the brick!) or be too bushy – but I do want perennials that pretty much take care of themselves once established. Any suggestions?
Great news! Despite being dug up/disturbed over the winter when we had the basement/exterior drainage system installed, and being disturbed again during this project, the roses are thriving! I had expected them to die, but they’re looking amazing. I’m so pleased!
We FINALLY got a tall ladder again (thanks for nothing, Home Depot! Everything about working with you was terrible! GREAT JOB on making me never want to order from you again) and within hours of possessing it, we were taking care of biz, like we do.
We started out here:
and worked our way starting from the lower, outermost branches/stems:
(By we, I mean K did all the actual work and I dragged branches to the curb and picked up sticks and handed him the hack saw. I also monitored all ladder activity with preemptive worrying. Heidemann gotta Heidemann.)
Huzzah!! So now we have a super ugly stump trunk, but at least the roofers will be able to do their job! Speaking of which, we (K) also cleared off more of the vines/trees from the side of the house.
Where we left off last time:
The section over the kitchen nook was especially awful – there were dandelions growing up there in the composted materials caught in the knotted vines/branches. It was ridiculous!
Now, it’s clear, mostly:
We actually left some stuff up there of fear of pulling off too many shingles and creating a leak. The roof and the roots of this tree have now become one indivisible entity. Neither can live while the other survives!
Not too shabby for a couple hours of work on a Sunday morning!
We continued to help the vines to let go of our house over the weekend. They are tough bastages!
Here’s where we started, more or less (actually more, as this is a photo from several years ago, courtesy of the real estate listing):
And then after we removed the bulk of the vines:
Although most of the vines came down pretty easily, there were some areas that were grown very thick with roots grabbing in all directions. These parts are super tough and reluctant to move! We cut through the base of these awhile ago, allowing them to dry out and not be connected to the roots anymore, but they were still pretty difficult to pry off.
K put his back into it and I helped as much as I could, and voila! After quite a lot of effort, we have a nook corner free of growth!
There are still some bits higher up that we want to pull down, but we are STILL WAITING for our tall ladder to come in at Home Depot. (It’s been over a month, Home Depot! What UP?) The roof replacement is going to happening late this month, hopefully, so we want to get as much down as we can before that happens so there’s as little stuff in the roofers’ way as possible. We are making progress!
Remember the vine roots I mentioned that had grown along the mortar lines between the bricks? Here’s a fun example:
Looks neat, eh? I’m mostly just happy that it didn’t get INTO the mortar. Our strategy of cutting the stem at any points we could get through it seems to be working – the top of the growth is wilting and dying and the parts that are stuck to the house are getting easier to remove as they dry out.
I believe that I’ve identified the aggressive plants next to the garage as wisteria, so now I need to get that away from the structure. There’s a lot of grape hyacinth and some milkweed growing nearby, though, so I don’t want to lose those. Slowly but slowly, I’m getting a plan together!
We are making progress on removing the vines from the side of the house in preparation for the new roof!
My first reaction when we saw the vines was, “kill it with fire!” but since we can’t use bluebell flames (or Lumos Solem, if we’re talking movies) on these, we’re going old school with loppers, pruners, and a hand saw.
As you can see here, they were pretty out of control (this pic is from a previous year but the growth is not too different):
I was super surprised at, for the most part, how easily the vines came off! I started snipping really carefully, but then K just started grabbing and pulling and – to my (happy) surprise – they came off without a huge amount of hassle and they didn’t bring any chunks of mortar with them. Some of the roots were formed into the shape of the bricks they were on – there were little square shapes where they went along the mortar lines (but thankfully did not invade the mortar).
I recognize most of these vines as some variety of wintercreeper (Euonymous) – the same plant I used to cover the ugly metal back fence at our home downstate! Its aggressive vertical climbing and clinging habit was great for that setting, but definitely not ideal for use on a structure like a house. Part of the vines are something else, though – the section on the left hand side are something that has much thicker trunk/stem, some of which is nestled tightly into the corner where the kitchen nook juts off the back of the house (just to the left of the electrical box). K successfully sawed through the thickest part so that the upper part is now completely severed from the roots. Hopefully both parts will die a bit and make it easier to get it off the brick!
We don’t have a ladder yet (had one, but it’s still in storage and won’t fit in our cars, so it will have to wait or just not come back – a new ladder is on order and should arrive soon) but there’s only a bit of stuff left that we’ll be able to get down once it’s here. So far only one of the screens was significantly infested with vine roots and we’ve had that fixed, so we can now open any of the first-floor windows and get a nice breeze going. Which will be important, since we move in less than a week and there’s no central air (yet – someday)!
We now have some big piles of branches that I need to trim and stack, but it’s been super rainy so I haven’t gotten to it yet. I did take advantage of the wet weather to pull out the roots of the vines, so I need to figure out some mulch or something for that area so it doesn’t sprout a million weeds.
I also need to figure out a plan for what we want to grow in this area – I’m thinking maybe we can borrow some Pachysandra sprouts from my folks, since they have a lot of it and it won’t grow too tall or climb. This area may prove to be too sunny for it – but we’ll have to wait and see.