Personal Gardening (Part 1)

I've been posting a lot about this on social media, but I figured I should try to compile it into a blog post as well. 

Starting in mid-March, with COVID-19 and a "non-essential" classification, I found myself with a lot of extra time on my hands. I needed to do something to keep me busy and help relieve some anxiety over a loss in income. So what did I do? I threw myself into my yard. 

The first project for the year was to address the pergola. This was built (if I had to guess) about 20 years ago. A structure that's about 15' x 25' - one of the long sides is against our garage and the other long side has two 8' wide lattice sections with an archway in between. Under the pergola is a brick patio. When it was built, a well-meaning gardener planted one trumpet in front of each lattice section. In the (estimated) 20 years since then, they grew to cover the entire pergola, draped over all 4 sides, up onto the garage roof, wrapping around the satellite dish on the garage, and stood about 8' above the TOP of the pergola as well. Its tendrils melded into the wooden structure. Its vines snapped the lattice sections to pieces. Its roots upended several bricks. Each original vine's trunk grew to be nearly a foot in diameter. The vines became home to at least 200 birds (at any given time) leaving a nearly solid layer of bird poop on the patio and anything else placed below the canopy. 

(Believe it or not, this isn't even it at its worst.)

In the spring and summer of 2019, my wife and I cut back the trumpet vines three times ourselves. A landscaper cut it back twice as well. We felt like we could not enjoy the patio (and the backyard as a whole) without getting pooped on by birds. I built a raised vegetable garden in the back corner of the backyard and shifted most of my focus to the front yard that season.

In late February 2020, I decided I wanted to get a handle on the trumpet vines before they started growing this year. I cut about a 2" section out of each of the old growth vines coming off of the trunk of both original vines. This was to separate everything on the pergola from the roots. In March, when I had more time, I started to remove the vines from the lattice sections of the pergola. At first thought, I figured I would create a pile in my garage and when the compost center opened up April 1st, I'd haul it there to dump it off. As I continued removing it first from the lattice sections, and then from the top of the pergola, I realized that it would be a MUCH bigger project than I originally anticipated. But I kept going, and kept stacking it in the garage.

In several sections, I had to chisel away the vines where the tendrils dug into the wooden pergola. After it was completely removed, I removed what was left of the lattice sections and completely rebuilt them. My wife helped me to clean the pergola and repaint it (a fresh medium-dark gray that matches the white and black of our home and the gray shutters of our neighbors). BUT due to COVID-19, the compost center wound up being closed indefinitely. Unsure what to do with all of this yard waste, we rented a 10 yd dumpster and COMPLETELY filled it with the trumpet vines. But now I had a clean slate to start my gardening projects.

(A clean slate to begin my 2020 gardening!)

See the next blog post to find out what happened next!

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