Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin
queerbychoice

Chainsaw Killer

I am officially a chainsaw-wielding killer! I mail-ordered a chainsaw and used it to finish off my dying conifer. I hadn't realized I'm the type of femme who loves power tools. I love my chainsaw! I half want to go around cutting things that don't need to be cut, just because it's so much fun to use a chainsaw. Though now I've used it enough that the chain tension needs to be adjusted, and to adjust it I need to find the right size wrench to loosen some bolts and access the tension screw, and I'm not sure I have the right size wrench. So I guess I can't go around cutting random things right now. This may be for the best. Anyway, I cut down the tree that needed cutting! This is the view from my front porch now. Do you see the stump?




The stump is over on this end (below). (You can see the before pictures in my August 30 entry for comparison.) And look how much planting I've done! It's unfortunate, though, that the demise of the conifer makes the concrete border that formerly separated the conifer from the lawn so much more visually prominent than before.

That concrete border is no longer serving any useful purpose, so it now looks rather silly. I'm a bit torn about what to do about it. The ideal solution would be to use my sledgehammer, purchased for the specific purpose of destroying concrete borders such as this one, to destroy it. However, past experience suggests I'm likely to fail miserably in any such attempt. It would require a lot of work to dig trenches on each side of the concrete border to give myself any hope of success at breaking the concrete with a sledgehammer, and unfortunately I'm likely to end up unable to actually do any more than just break some chips off it. Concrete is hard to break! So I may just try to cover it up with mulch and rocks. We'll see.




The tree I cut down was only a couple of feet taller than me, but I suspected it was ancient - probably about as old as the house (60 years). After cutting it down, I tried to determine its age by counting the tree rings on the stump. It's hard to get a precise count, because the inner rings blur together, but I got to the lower fifty-somethings. I feel bad about accidentally killing such an old tree! I guess that when I can get a replacement adequately established, though, it will make my yard look more modern and more obviously native/xeriscaped, to have a native shrub in that prominently visible location rather than a dwarf conifer (whose species I never managed to identify).

I found an old Christmas light on the ground next to the stump. The tree was a perfect tree to decorate with Christmas lights. But I don't do Christmas lights, so this was left over from the original homeowners.

I've been using pruning shears to reduce the corpse of the tree to mulch. I'm about two thirds done, I think. My arms are sore from it. My legs are sore too, and not from running - they're sore from squatting to plant things. I've been planting quite a lot . . . as you can see! I bought a bunch of native plants in Placerville on Saturday, in addition to the ones I bought in Sacramento the previous Saturday, and I'll be buying some more in Grass Valley this coming Saturday. After that I should be done until spring.

Fall is a better time to plant around here than spring, though, and I'm really seeing that in my newly planted plants so far. Everything I've planted in the past couple of weeks is still alive so far! A couple of things struggled at first, and I thought I was going to lose them - the yerba santa (Eriodictyon californicum) and the bladderpod (Isomeris arborea) both had all their leaves shrivel up shortly after planting, and I thought they weren't going to make it. But they've both sprouted some healthy new leaves since then, so now I think they'll make it after all. It's unusual not to lose any plants at all in their first couple of weeks in the ground. In spring I would definitely expect a lower success rate.

I still have 13 plants left unplanted at the moment. The hardest things to find places for are two shrubs/small trees that could grow up to six meters wide: a snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) and a hollyleaf cherry (Prunus ilicifolia). They'll both probably end up in the back yard somewhere, but I'm none too sure where. There are spaces to put them; I just haven't decided which spaces are best.

I think I might deliberately plant more in the spot where the conifer used to be than will ultimately fit there, just to try to make sure that something I put there will last. The main plant I'm replacing the conifer with is an Oregon grape barberry shrub (Berberis aquifolium), but I might put in a white sage (Salvia apiana) and/or a golden currant (Ribes aureum) as backups in case the Oregon grape doesn't survive. I haven't had great success with Oregon grape in the past, but I also haven't made many efforts with it. I generally avoid plants that try to hurt me, and Oregon grape has leaves with stiff, sharp points on them. But the conifer that used to be there had sharp needles, and in that location, visual appearance is a higher priority than being safe to touch. It shouldn't be necessary for me to touch it much.

A hollyleaf redberry (Rhamnus crocea ssp. ilicifolia) might also be a viable backup plan for replacing the conifer. I don't have one handy to plant there at the moment, and they're not that easy to find for sale, but I have one in the back yard and might be able to find another in future years if the Oregon grape doesn't work out.

I found an interior live oak volunteering under the conifer, actually, so I guess I could have just left that there. But it wasn't in quite the right spot for where I would have wanted it, and anyway, I don't really want an oak tree there. I want something with a little more visual impact.

Anyway, no more dead brown conifer corpse in my front yard! The dead brown conifer corpse is now in my back yard instead, in pieces, being dismembered and distributed around the yard.
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