Tackling the vines project

Sunday afternoon, I turned to Justin and said “It’s a beautiful afternoon. I’m thinking of dragging the trunk from the living room outside to finish stripping the paint off.” To which he said, “I was thinking of mowing the lawn” and we both went and changed into work clothes for the afternoon.

Now, since I had to wait for the paint stripper to take effect for several minutes, I figured I’d trim up the bushes between our house and the neighbors, since they were getting long and unruly. Justin decided to rake up the leaves before he could mow (we have a reel mower, not anything with a motor on it). As he was raking under one of the trees in the back yard, he asked, “Do you think we could trim up this tree? This branch seems really low.”

“Sure!” I said. Of course, after removing that one, the ones above it were still handing rather low, so I trimmed up the downward growing branches from the lateral ones and shortened up the lateral length a little.

And then Justin said something along the lines of: “I bet it’d be better if we took off those vines that are pulling down those branches.”

And right there, our entire afternoon changed. Because pulling off those vines lead to pulling down the vines that were crowding over the bushes over toward the other neighbor’s house. And from there, we tracked down the source root of the system. And then dragged vine after vine down from the bushes and the trees and into the backyard. And then I’d take the larger bits that would work as kindling for our fire pit and cut them into manageable pieces and piled them up next to the house.

And Justin cut and dragged and pulled and wrangled until we were both exhausted and the yard was COVERED in vines.

The living room trunk got neglected, for the most part. Partially because I determined that I really didn’t know what I was doing. But mostly because the vine-pulling project superseded all other plans. We opened up the umbrella to protect it from the rain that seemed to be coming and left it to sit while we worked our butts off trying to free the trees and bushes from the strangling vines.

The problem being that by the time we were done, the yard looked like this:

And that was going to drive me nuts, leaving it like that. To say nothing of what the POA would say if they caught sight of it. (For reference, they threatened us with a fine when they could see our bicycles from the street. And when one of the slats in the blinds upstairs was broken.)

So I took a rare day off from work for personal business.

Monday morning, since I needed to get up early enough to be able to go to bed at a decent hour, I got up and got back to work on that trunk, having done a good deal of research Sunday evening to figure out what I’d been missing. Turns out, I understood the paint stripper well enough. I just didn’t know about the paint thinner part that comes next. I’m going to write another post all about that, because it’s too much to include here and I want to talk about the vines thing.

Oh, but here’s a teaser photo.

So I worked on that until Justin got up and moving – the poor guy was so stiff and sore and scratched up from the day before that it took him a while to get going. But after a while, he was able to loosen those muscles up enough to get the laundry started while I cleaned up the kitchen and he got started on the work that needed to get done to Jessi’s computer (mid-terms this week and her hard drive on her Mac died) and then we were able to get back to the vines project in the backyard.

The primary problem was that there were too many vines to pile into the trash bin or the car. I mean, the pile of leaves was as big as my car! Justin did some final work getting bits and pieces pulled out to the yard and I dragged everything onto the tarp. We bagged up the leaves, strung clothesline through the grommets on the tarp to cinch it together a little, and dragged it all up to the front near the driveway.

And then we went to Home Depot, because they have truck rentals by the hour. (Disclaimer: this post is in NO WAY sponsored by Home Depot – they’re just the only place in town that has this service, so far as we can tell.)

The first hour of rental for the truck is actually 75 minutes, so we had to get back home, load it up, drive to the dump, and then get back to Home Depot within that time or get charged another $10 for the next hour. Reasonable pricing, yes, but we were pretty sure we’d be able to do it within that time. We piled into that boat on wheels and headed back to the house. Once there, Justin backed into the driveway (BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!) and we lifted up that enormous viney tarp egg into the back. We tossed up the bags of leaves, grabbed the broom from the house (return the truck clean or get charged a fine) and set off for the dump.

Bluffton has really great solid waste disposal centers. There’s recycling stations for different types of materials. And there are huge dumpsters for different types of waste, from yard trimmings to household trash. There’s a spot off to the side for larger items. And they’ll even take hazardous materials like paint cans and batteries.

So we pulled up to the yard waste bin, backed up to it (BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!), untied the tarp, and tipped the vines into the bin. We dumped out the leaves after that, threw the empty bags, tarp and clothes line together into the cab, swept the bed clean, and set back to the store. We had to stop to top off the tank ($4 of gas) and still got back with 15 minutes to spare. Just in time for another guy to walk up to the desk and ask “Could I rent a truck?”

From the time we got started on the vines again until the time we dropped off the truck, it took us about 4 hours. Add on top of that about 3 hours Sunday afternoon, and it was a long, hard struggle with those things. Unfortunately, we’re not entirely finished. Several of those vines were too well snagged onto those trees that we weren’t able to pull them. So Justin snipped them at the root and we’ll go back in a couple weeks, once they’ve dried up a little, and give them another tug. Hopefully they’ll have given up their grip and we’ll be able to pull them down. The trees that they’ve covering are being smothered and stunted. We very much want these gone.

Plus, I’ve still got all this wood to chop down to size for the fire pit.

So between working on refinishing the trunk, cleaning up the house, getting the vines dumped, working on laundry, and doing some prep work for a meeting I had today at 7:00, it was a long, exhausting day. Being at work today was more restful than the day I took off!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, no, the lawn did not get mowed. Justin has blisters on the insides of about half of his fingers and the back of his left calf was a bloody mess because of deep scratches from thorns. I’m giving him at least a couple days to heal back up. 🙂