Saturday, May 21, 2016

Growing Home Part I

      My husband and I purchased our home two years ago. The yard was entirely overgrown with blackberry bushes, flag irises, and weeds. We spent the first two summers just cleaning up the place, and we certainly have the scars to prove it! Now that the ‘dirty’ work is done, we’re ready to make it look like home. We’d like to do that as fiscally and environmentally responsible as possible, and I’d like to ask you to join me along the way. I’ll be using the information from our website to help with this task.

     Our challenges are many in this venture, and we’ll have to tackle them one by one. Up first is the front side of the house. Our house is built into a hill, and as a result, we have a lot of retaining walls. These step-down flower beds are great, but they have a lot of treated wood. We know the dangers of treated wood containing formaldehyde and will be replacing it in time to come. For now, we are going to work on the beds themselves.

     First things first, these bad boys need to be completely demolished. The large, tall, grassy looking bunches are yellow flag irises. The root systems are CRAZY. The individual plants are actually all interconnected through their rhizome root systems. The roots are far reaching and difficult to control. These are extremely invasive, and when our run off collects rhizomes from them, they spread into our water-ways. These can be poisonous to animals, and handling parts of flag irises can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions, so we will need to be sure to wear our gloves. The rhizomes from these plants can fracture off and grow again, which is why wide-spread tilling is not recommended. Control takes several years to succeed. 

     With all this in mind, we have decided to start the attempt of removing these beasts. We will be digging up and hand removing the root systems. As you can see here, a shovel wasn’t getting the job done. We had go with a good old fashioned pickaxe to pull up the roots. I sorted through the systems by hand to ensure all parts were removed. It was a serious labor of time, but I wanted these guys GONE. Thanks to a large amount of root rot, we may have been more successful than normal. However, chances are that next year, we will be going after them again. 

This is why it is so important to use careful selection in what you plant. Once invasive species take off, they are a real gripe to get under control.

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