Saturday, October 26, 2013

Trees, Gromit! Trees! - Part1

Pretty much anything I say in my head that rhymes with cheese is followed by a 'Gromit', and a mental arm shake!

"That's it Gromit! Trees!  We'll go somewhere where there's trees!"

That must have been what we were thinking when we decided to move to New Hampshire.  We did want a home with a nice open lawn, which I'm happy to say we got...  Yet we still had some deforistation to do.

Not long after we moved in we noticed somewhat large plant near our steps that we really couldn't remember during any of our other visits to the house.  It was in a really odd place too;  right in front of the deck steps.  It wasn't a big nuisance, so I didn't think much of it.

We're still weren't used to the lawn enough to confidently be sure, but it seemed like this plant was growing fairly quickly.  Not long after that we looked out our window, realized it wasn't our imagination and the plant was about to take over our power lines.

I wanted to be sure we disposed of it in a way that didn't accidentally  spread it far and wide, so I tried looking up what it was.  No weeds or trees I found online matched what we had.  So I contacted our local college and sent a photo and got a response in a just couple days:
"Our resident expert identifies your rather large weed that's growing by your deck's steps as a velvetleaf.  This is indeed an invasive species and is quite the threat to crops.

Please try to eradicate this as quickly as possible.  If possible, dig it up; if not, cut it off and the base and continue cutting growth until it freezes.  Dispose of the plant in the trash to avoid spreading any seeds around.  If you see this in your yard next year, try to eradicate it early so that it doesn't spread."
We had our plan!  Simple - cut it down, dig it up.

So chopping day was upon us and this thing was huge.  More than twice my size, actually.
 I just now, finally looked it up.  We were right; there was no tree there in front of our steps when we toured.  The above image was taken from the inspection report, about a month before we moved in.  That thing grew that tall in less than three months!!

Back to chopping day.  With our small hatchet in hand, we knocked down this thing in minutes.  It was quite brittle, with hollow stalks, so chopping it was easy, and remarkably satisfying.  I was disappointed I only got to do a few stalks.

The stump was much less hollow and brittle.  Quite heavy and damp, in fact.  We also found several spots that were chopped before, so the owners must have attempted prious removals.  You can't see it well in this picture, but towards the top, there was a long root that shot down, that I nicknamed 'The well', since it was so saturated with water and just plunged straight down. 

After a little bit of hatchet work and digging, Jon got the stump down to it's main chunk.  There were a few rocks on one side that we were having a hard time digging out, but using s screw driver to break the suction of the clay/dirt/tree popped those rocks right out of there.

With the rocks out, I took out a little aggression and hatched a fair amount off.  Jon was able to finish up the rest the next day when we borrowed a full size axe/sledgehammer, but since I was at work... there's no pictures.

The final result photo of this project isn't blog-style glamorous.  We're left with a big hole in the ground.  Yay. Taking a real 'after' picture now that we've cleaned up wouldn't any better.  "Wow!  Your ground looks so dirt-y!  You guys sure are swell!"

But when look past the hole, and focus on the fact that we can see that little girl on that deck now, it  becomes just a little more awesome again.  We can use those stairs!

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