Yard work

brush piles with dog

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, the snow last winter did a lot of damage to trees, and I’m still cleaning up the mess. The latest was clearing a bunch of flattened/damaged willows; today I sawed a bunch I’d taken out a few days ago into more manageable lengths and added them to the existing brush piles. Here’s the result, with dog for scale.

That probably took about half an hour; the next three and a half hours were spent on the yellow flag irises.

I hate yellow flag irises.

Oh, they’re pretty, but they’re invasive, and on top of that will go a long way toward choking a pond if you don’t fight them back. I have been fighting them for some years now, and losing, but this year I have a bit more time and so I figured I’d better have another battle.

As far as I can see anything short of a backhoe is unlikely to deal with them (and even then it’s doubtful), but I’m doing my best. I started by deadheading the flowers earlier this year—hopefully that will reduce the number of seeds.

But irises also spread through corms underground. So you have to DIG UP THE CORMS. The online expert advice says dig everything out down to a foot deep. Don’t know that I got all of them—some of them run into what is currently bottomless mud—but I made a noble effort today. I’m aiming first at the corms that are closest to the water (mud now) because as soon as it starts raining the pond will start rising and they’ll be under water.

big rock

So first I dug out a patch next to the big rock that the garter snake lives under.

mystery piping

This cleanup uncovered something I’d never seem before: a bit of ducting buried underground. I suspect it leads away from the house drain tiles. (I sincerely hope plastic ducting is not representative of the house’s drain tiles….)

Then I dug up a second section, probably about 10 feet long: this involved digging out a meter wide swath of corms. They are dense and tough (it’s hard to drive a shovel through them) but also break off easily, making it hard to reef them out in quantity by grabbing one and hauling on it.

peeled back mat of corms and dirt

I ended up peeling back big wodges of iris corm turf at a time, as shown above. (My arms are getting a great workout with all this pulling and sawing.)

cleared section of dirt

So here’s that finished section.

And here’s what I took out.

garbage bags, wheelbarrow, iris leaves

The leaves, having carefully been cut off the corms, can be composted in the big vegetative dumping ground behind the berm on the other side of our lot. The corms in the garbage bags (there are 3 so far plus what’s in the barrel waiting to be bagged) will eventually have to be hauled off and burned somewhere where a bonfire isn’t likely to start a forest fire.

And here’s what’s left. All around the bloody pond. Argh. At this rate it’ll be Christmas before I’m done, and I’ll be working with scuba gear.

pond with irises all around it


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