Sunday, February 19, 2012

Pretty on the outside

     Since spring seems to be creeping in early this year, Steven and I have been giving more and more consideration to the yard, which basically hasn't been touched since we moved in (except for mowing the grass). Some randomly placed daffodils and tulips have popped up around the house, and these tall shrubs lined the front porch; however, we decided that we would like to update the landscaping and add more color.

Before: front landscaping and our lingering brick crumbs...



A pile of bricks and mortar can't even stop spring from coming early :)
     We visited Bennett Nurseries here in Huntsville a couple weeks ago to look for some possibilities for the front yard. Just want to say, that place is awesome!! They have tons of plants to choose from, and the service was beyond what I expected. I knew I wanted gardenias and azaleas for their evergreen foliage and lovely flowers, so I asked one of their staff members about a particular azalea that I really liked. Next thing I know, she had us at her desk drawing out a full landscape design for the front of the house! That day we brought home four Grune Kugel western red cedar shrubs, four Encore azaleas in "Autumn Embers" (red!), and three Crown Jewel gardenias.
     Before planting the new shrubs, we had to remove the four tall shrubs that stood along the front porch, a task that I grossly underestimated. Each of them had a huge root ball at its base to deal with. Just imagine driving by and seeing me sitting on a shovel handle to lift the root ball as much as possible and Steven stabbing the root ball with a bush ax to cut it out. Teamwork!
The cool part about removing those gnarly shrubs was finding this roller skate inside one of bushes!

New shrubs in the ground! This is more of a "during" shot than an "after." We've already decided that the foundation should be repainted while these guys are still small!
      
   We also had some yard work done last Friday (02/17) that was beyond the DIY scope: tree removal. Steven had spoken with an arborist some months ago about the condition of our trees, and he recommended that one of our pecans out front be removed because it had a fungus. Steven and I decided that we would also like to remove the black walnut that stood on the west side of our house. In case you've never heard, walnut trees carry a toxin called juglone that inhibits certain plants from growing around them. Many fruits and vegetables are especially sensitive to the toxin, and we certainly want to start growing some of our food ourselves. Also, any part of the walnut tree is not recommended for compost or mulch because of the toxin. More about walnut trees and juglone here:
http://www.wvu.edu/~agexten/hortcult/fruits/blkwalnt.htm
 
The pecan on the left was removed, but the other two are fine :)
Walnut tree prior to removal.
Steven is super excited about all the pecan and walnut wood he now has for projects! Many thanks to Micah Gregg for offering to take our trees to the Amish, who will cut them into lumber.

"Two Men and a Truck" took on a whole new meaning here. The log in front of Steven was 10' long and 15" in diameter. After Steven and Micah got the walnut log mostly in the truck, Micah backed it into one of the pecan trees out front to push it the rest of the way- genius!

All set!