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ivy | Building Our Nest
Oct 10 2010

Front Yard Makeover, part 1

A few weeks ago, Kelly’s mother gave him her Texas certified master gardener’s advice: if you are going to redo your front lawn this year, now is the time to do so!

Indeed, we have been dreaming about a new front yard for quite a while now. The yard when we moved in was totally overgrown with ivy ground cover. Actually, according to some of the current and former neighbors, the front yard has been that way for at least 25 years.

You can see part of the yard in this photo

Right side of the lawn

 

Left side of the lawn

Ugly ugly ugly

The ivy, Vinca minor, I believe, is an invasive ground cover plant that will take over completely. While when we first moved in, it looked quite lush and Kelly was excited to only have half a mowing job to do, we quickly grew to really dislike it. For one, you really can’t use the yard at all – no one can toss a ball around in it, or play in it, or sit and relax in it. Also, during the heat of this past Texas summer, the ivy all turned brown, dry and ugly. While it started to turn green again when the weather got cooler, we still hated it. It just looked ugly and scraggly and pitiful.

This part never did get green again.

So this past Saturday morning, Kelly and I set out to attack the Vinca in the front yard and pull it out, roots and all. Kelly started pulling out the vines on his hands and knees, using an old steak knife to jab at the roots beneath the soil, and I used the rake to get the years and years of old leaves out of the way so he could see where the base of the plants were. After an hour and a half, we had cleared a section maybe 3 feet by 10 feet and began to despair that we would get the ivy removal done over the weekend.

Kelly working hard clearing ivy

That’s when we started to wonder whether someone might wander or drive by looking for work so we could get an extra pair of hands. Since moving into our neighborhood, we have occasionally been approached by some down-on-their-luck men who are looking for some odd jobs to do in exchange for money or food. We started to eye every truck that drove by to see if they were handymen.

Fortunately, not too long after that, a truck did slow down as it passed, and Kelly called out to the men in the truck to see if they were interested in work. They were, so after getting out and looking around at the job, we negotiated a flat fee for removing all the ivy and even scraping off all the overgrown brush along one side of the house as well.

They left to get their tools and when they got back it took them a mere 4 1/2 hours to bring the front yard back to dirt. This father/son team has a roofing business during the week and pick up odd jobs over the weekend. We were very impressed with the work they did and will most likely call them again when we need our trees trimmed, or when we tackle the jungle that is the back yard.

No more ivy!

In the end, we were very glad that we chose to give up doing the ivy removal ourselves, given the amount of time it would have taken us, and the great job that our drive-by laborers provided. We are hoping to lay the sod next weekend, so having the job done in time is a big relief.