My stumps

When we moved into the house, I knew there needed to be some landscaping done, but I didn’t quite understand the vast scope of work that I’d need to accomplish to make it not look like a house on the reservation.

There are a couple stumps in the bottom of the yard. There were these ugly white plastic buckets (probably 4 gallon buckets) that held rocks, moss, and silk flowers. I can only assume that they were placed there about a decade ago and when I decided to throw them away, they shattered upon contact with my hands. I guess year after year of UV radiation made the plastic a little brittle. In addition to the dazzling beauty of the buckets, there was fine wire mesh stapled to the stumps, I assume to encourage the huge amounts of vines to climb them and somehow hide them. Unfortunately, the mesh was unsuccessful, and it just looked like wire mesh stapled to a stump, flanked by some overgrown vines and a plastic bucket full of faded fake flowers. You can kind of see it in this photo, as well as another of the “planters” housing fake flowers in the foreground.

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Now I originally set out to pull up the vine in an attempt to dig out the stumps for removal. I quickly found out that it wasn’t just any kind of vine, but that it came up in thick mats, like sod, but about 8″ thick. I had to dig squares of it out and be sure to remove all of the roots from the ground. The mat of vine would come up along with all of my top soil, leaving a sandy pit in it’s absence.

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Feeling frustrated, I took some photos of the vine and posted them on a gardening forum in an attempt to identify them and see if there was a better way to go about eradicating the vine. I found out that it’s Vinca Minor, or common Periwinkle, an obscenely invasive shade plant that is nearly impossible to kill. Roundup won’t touch it because the waxy leaves just shed the poison, and mowing it simply spreads it to other parts of your yard. The only way short of digging it out is 3 layers of cardboard, 1 layer of black plastic, and a few years. Not willing to give up 1/3 of my yard for a year, I’m stuck digging this out.

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I had the genius idea (and lack of conscience regarding giving my vines to someone else) to post this up for free on craigslist, providing someone brings their own wheelbarrow, shovel, and anything else they may need. I figured the yard is in bad enough shape that they’ll have trouble making it look any worse, and they’ll do a great deal of the work for me. I lucked out and someone in Redmond was trying to cover up a shady slope that grass wouldn’t grow on, and was looking for some free Vinca. He came and took the majority of it, so there are just wispy edges and grassy clumps left to remove. But then I have to finish digging out these 2 stumps, hack off the roots (which are filled with termites btw), and haul them out of the yard. Following that, I have to get my raised beds built for veggies, and then have 3+ yards of topsoil delivered so I can get to planting my privacy shrubs and other various perennials so I have a pretty yard that Vinca can’t take over again. Ugh.

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