First Project: De-Landscaping, Part 1

After a day to settle down from the realization that the house was completely mine, I dove into my list of changes I wanted to make.  A lot of the inside items can’t be started until the house is cleared out, but this is an outside item.

I have hated the shrubs in front of the house since day one, 10 years ago.  They have become unwieldy; they butt up against the house; they are growing unevenly and have holes and gaps; and they have become consumed with this evil, satanic vine.  So, they are all coming out.  In their place, it’s just going to be grass.  And I’ll decorate the front with plants in containers that I can move, or update, or trash when they grow out of scale.

So, after extensive research, I got to buy some tools.  The #1 new tool in my arsenal: a digging bar, also known as a landscaping bar or San Angelo bar.  It’s a 16 pound rod of iron with a point at one end and a thick flat blade at the other – intimidating as hell.  This is used to cut through roots, of which I have an abundance.  I also bought a hatchet and some files to sharpen my new blades.

I have two beds of shrubs I need to remove.  The first one started like this:


I began by cutting the shrubs at the base using a lopper, which was an unexpectedly difficult task.  Shrubs grow with lots of different branches and they wind around all over the place.  Added to the mix was the evil vine, which tied everything together.  Since I was doing this after work before the sun went down, I only had a couple of hours each day.  At the end of day one, I ended up with all the shrubs cut down.


You can see how badly the wall became stained from being blocked all those years.  That’s going to take some effort to clean up.

Day two and three I really got to use the digging bar, which was awesome and horrible at the same time.  Lifting and slamming down a 16 pound weight over and over is a workout like no other.  But, the result was worth it.  On the first round, I got out 4 stumps – everything around the palm trees.  The next day, I got the ones in front of the windows.

Something that hasn’t been mentioned is the sago palm at the corner of the walkway.  What a boneheaded idea by the previous owners.  That palm just kept growing outward and blocking the walkway.  In years past, I kept cutting it down further and further until it just ended up as nothing more than a stump.  But for all my effort, I wasn’t able to remove the stump back then.  With my new digging bar, the odds were tilted in my favor and I kicked its ass.

So at the end of day three of this project, I cleared the shrubs, lowered the grade of the earth and (mostly) cleaned up the wall: