The Trials and Tribulations of My Yard

Omaha has had an unusually stormy spring/summer this year. We’ve had one confirmed tornado in the city, plus several other severe thunderstorms that have knocked out power and torn down trees, etc. It has been a rather trying couple of months.

A few weeks ago, we had a huge storm with 100+ mph winds, quarter-size hail, flash floods…the works. I happened to be on the interstate at the time (yay), but my leased car and I took refuge under an overpass until the hail stopped and visibility returned. When I exited the interstate, I found every single street blocked by downed trees or floodwater. I eventually had to re-enter the interstate and try another exit. Every stoplight I came to was dark, which led to an even greater hazard because many people don’t know how to deal with a dark stoplight*. Everywhere I drove there were shattered windows, downed trees, drifts of hail, chunks of building insulation and floodwaters. Eventually I made it to my daughter’s daycare, finding her and the rest of her class in the bathroom/storm shelter, eating popsicles.

At the house, we had no power and no phone service. A tree was down and blocking the road right next door, but our trees were all amazingly upright. Hundreds of people were out in the streets, trying to figure out what to do and where to start to clean up. More than 150,000 homes had no power. Leaves and flowers were torn to bits, plastered all over the street, sidewalk and homes. It was…unbelievable.

The storm lasted ten minutes.

I THINK everyone has power again, now, but I’m not sure. I know of folks who were without power for more than four days.

Anyway. How does this connect to my yard? Well, my daylilies were just starting to bloom. They’re flattened now. My mulberry tree was fruiting, but most of the berries have blown off, ripe or not. My tomato plants and onions have been broken. My enormous, gorgeous zucchini plants had their leaves shredded. My hostas were also been shredded. It was all rather disheartening.

But at least we weren’t alone on that front. All told, we were very lucky.

The real trial (for me and my yard) came at the hands of our property manager.

I must back up and explain the situation. I live in a duplex. We have an enormous, terraced back yard and a smaller front yard. Last summer, when we moved in, the plant life was entirely out of control. The front yard, which is almost entirely shaded, was weedy and full of volunteer trees. The back yard was also overgrown, with little distinction between weeds and landscaping. BUT you could tell that there had been some pretty intensive landscaping done at some point. To be frank, the whole house was in pretty sore need of maintenance, as well, and the property manager did almost nothing we asked of him.

So fast forward to this summer. I have tried to do some gardening in our yard. I hacked down the volunteer trees and planted lilies of the valley around the big shade tree that dominates our front yard. I trimmed the three shrub/trees that dominate the back yard. I planted tomatoes, herbs, lettuce, peas, beets, spinach, carrots, etc. I weeded the path that winds down through the terraces. I weeded the patio. I composted. I mulched. I dead-headed the dandelions so they wouldn’t take over the entire neighborhood. I picked up the garbage left in our yard again and again.

I did quite a lot, and so did my darling husband. But, when it rains as much as it has here lately, the amount we did was not enough. So things were looking pretty shaggy and overgrown. Most of my food plants had been strangled by weeds, and those that hadn’t were struggling to overcome storm damage.

In the midst of this battle came the owner of our building. And the new property manager. On a tour. The day before we left on vacation. (And apparently just a few days before the smokey neighbors moved out.) Oy.

Last Friday, July 4, I glanced out my window to see three unknown men wielding weed-eaters, lawn-mowers and hedge-clippers. Knowing that this would be my only chance to forestall certain destruction, I ran outside. I walked the men through the yard and garden, pointing out the plants that I wanted to keep. Then we left, because I couldn’t stand to watch.

When they finished, roughly three hours later, my yard was in shambles. They mowed down my lilies of the valley and left the new volunteer trees. They clear-cut the lovely ground cover that disguised the front-yard dirt. They trampled my onions and carrots–two of the few things that had been well-mulched. They cut down two of the three enormous shrub/trees in our half of the yard, and both of the shrub/trees in the other half. They nearly destroyed the sage and chives.

On the up side, we can start over with more mulch and less weeding. I can get some snow-on-the-mountain transplants from my mom, to repopulate the front yard. My tomatoes and herbs have a LOT more sun. I have more room for herbs and anything else I decide to plant. I can hang clothes on the line. The smokey neighbors are GONE.

On the down side, I don’t think my carrots and onions are ever coming back. The landscaping, which had been so deliberately done–if difficult to maintain–and symmetrical, is gone. More sunshine means more grass, so we may actually have to start mowing. And no new neighbors yet, so no one to keep up with the other side of the yard.

I can’t decide if I should feel disheartened or empowered.


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3 Responses to “The Trials and Tribulations of My Yard”

  1. Anotheryarn Says:

    Well, on the bright side Snow on the Mountain spreads like crazy 🙂 And I’m pretty sure the Lily of the Valley will be back next spring unless the tuber-root things get dug up. But ugh, that is awful that they didn’t seem to take into account the former landscaping. Why on earth would anyone clear-cut ground covers?

  2. fractone Says:

    I think the problem was that the guys who came to work on the yard…are not landscapers. They told me when they first arrived that they didn’t usually do yard care. They were handymen, fix-it guys, whatever you want to call them. And they seemed to know very, very little about plants.

    On Sunday, the boy and I worked on the back yard for about three hours. It looks a lot better, but it still has a long way to go.

    And vine borers destroyed my zucchini. Sigh.

  3. Neacculurce Says:

    Tahnks for posting

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