Clearing the Back Alley

Over the past 3 years, our yard has gone from out of control to slightly more manageable. You’ve seen us clear out fallen trees from the January ’09 ice storm in our front yard, remove the nasty old metal fence from our side and back yards, and clear off the wood fence that we share with our only neighbor.

Cleared Wood Fence

The last time we really did any major yard work was this spring, right before Heat Wave 2011 hit in Arkansas.  At the beginning of August we’d had over 40 days of 100+ degree temperatures in Northwest Arkansas.  Thankfully we got several days of rain about a week ago and temperatures have stayed in the low 90s ever since.

Since 90 degrees feels positively cool these days, Stephen and I got to work continuing to clear 30 years of wild growth from our yard.  Our most recent project was tackling the “back alley,” a 10 foot wide piece of land just around this corner of our house that runs the behind our kitchen and dining room.  You’ve never seen this bit of yard on the blog before – with good reason!

Fence Clearing

These photos were taken after we’d already started clearing brush away from the fence. You can see how much of the ground was covered in undergrowth by where the brown stops and the small strip of green grass starts.

Brush Alley

We followed essentially the same process as we did when we cleared the back border of our yard, ripping out weeds and vines and trimming the lower limbs from the trees and shrubs.

Brush Alley

There were lots of vines and lots of Poison Oak growing along this fence, so while Stephen tackled the major limbs, I (the one slightly less allergic to Poison Ivy and Poison Oak) worked on the weeds and vines.

Clearing Alley

We filled 3 yard bags with smaller bits, but the rest of what we pulled out will be loaded on our trailer and taken to the yard waste facility later this week.

Yard Bags

Just one of the massive piles of vines and limbs we collected from this small strip of yard.

Brush Pile

Here’s a good example of the look we are going for.  Trees pruned above the top of the fence, clean trunks and no vines.

Trimmed Limbs

As of last night, things were looking pretty good.  We still have to find a way to rip out that bush you see further down the fence line, but now at least this area has a chance of getting some sun and growing some grass!

Cleared Fence

My favorite part of the whole project?  Stephen worked a little later than I could and surprised me by taking down a nasty old wooden bird feeder that had been hanging on our dining room window since we bought the house.

You can see it on the left dining room window in the photos below: one from the day we bought our house and one from our can light installation project.  I wish I would have gotten a close-up shot of that feeder still attached to the house, but I’m glad it’s gone.

Dining Room Before Dining Room Can Lights

That thing was as wide as the window and actually took up most of the room in our big green trash can.  Good riddance, I say!!

Trash Bird Feeder

Now we just need to haul off some limbs, put down some grass seed and cross our fingers!

Cleared Fence

Do you have trouble spots in your yard too?  Anybody else trying to tame a wild yard like ours?  Are you super allergic to poison ivy or oak like my mister is?  Knock on wood – I’ve managed to steer clear of the stuff so far!

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5 Responses to Clearing the Back Alley

  1. Nora says:

    I am praying I’m not allergic to poison ivy. My mom’s not but my sister is majorly allergic. I have less sensitive skin but I try to avoid it.

    Our house has tons of hostas (shade loving) on every shady section of yard. We have a massive fall cleanup of our rock “garden” aka jumbled pile of weeds, hostas, daylilies, and more weeds planned!

  2. It’s looking great Meredith! We’re dealing with some spots of dead lawn…while at the same time purposefully killing other spots. Oh…yards.

  3. Ginna says:

    We’re hoping to clear out some of the vines on our patio but have been putting it off due to fear of poison ivy and poison oak. What steps did you take to try to lessen the chance of contact while clearing out your yard?

    • Meredith says:

      Hey Ginna,
      My best advice to avoid the poison ivy/oak would be to wear long pants and long sleeved shirts with gloves to cover your hands. When you’re done pulling all the vines, you can toss your work clothes right in the wash so that the sap from the plants never touches your skin.
      In the summer it’s more difficult to tolerate long clothing, but I think it’s worth it!

  4. Your yard looks great Meridith! I was laughing when you said that 90 feels cool. I grew up in Sacramento, CA where the temps would get into the 100’s during the summer. Now that I live in the Pacific NW where it’s cool much of the time I’ve forgotten what’s it’s like to be happy for 90. You are very brave to pull out that poison ivy. I am so allergic to poison oak that if I touch it my face will swell up. I had a horse growing up and unfortunately she would end up with poison oak oil on her and it would rub off on me. Needless to say Calamine lotion was my friend.

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