Sunday, October 4, 2009

the taming of the swamp, part two

le swamp

SO...i think this is where we left off: we have a swamp. it would be lovely if it weren't right in front of our house. or, really, anywhere near our house. i think a swamp is something one should choose to visit, not live with.

SO...the first thing i did: installed a big ass dehumidifier for the house (it really does help). the second thing i did: i called the city, asked them in an off-hand way if they thought it might be worth the time to excavate a grossly-blocked and possibly mythical culvert in the swamp that led straight to the storm sewer (my neighbor kept insisting it was there, and she was right)...and not only did the city dig they actually found it. the third thing i did: applied, and was accepted to, the master gardener's program through iowa state university (which has been an absolute delight).

SO...with the dehumidifier in place, city on notice, and gardening knowledge bombarding me like gamma rays, i started clearing the swamp. and it was amazing. i would estimate that i have removed at least one ton of herbaceous plant material myself and at least another ton of tree material with rich's help. and easily a third if not fourth ton of trees that a professional tree killer dude did. i bought a chainsaw for rich and you would have thought i had given him a sack of puppies he's had so much fun with it. we have taken out a remarkable amount of overgrowth. what is more remarkable is that we still have a fair amount of green left.

SO...once everything was as cleared on top as i could get it, i started working on the top soil. i almost quit the project at that--there were so very many roots that absolutely refused to cooperate and get the hell out of my "yard" once their parent plants were gone...but eventually i think i got quite a lot of them out of there, or at least enough to seriously reduce the root competition. i've never had to prep soil like that before, but it did give me the excuse i needed to buy that flamethrower i've always wanted (to boil the weed seeds). fire GOOD! we are: pictures for the taming of the swamp, part two...and there will be a part three.

the city actually showed up to work--and i was floored by the addition of the street sweeper, too

look what they found--an oversized version of hannibal lechter's barred mouth mask

they also cleared away all the branches and crap the the previous owner and our neighbors have been throwing into the ravine for god knows how long (that has to stop now)

they even cracked the sidewalk...and fixed it the same day. iowa city is fairly impressive, i must say.

they also uncovered this little hidden jewel--a stump covered with turkey tail fungi. i'm trying to protect it and give it some shade so it will stick around for a bit.

(notice the flamethrower in the foreground!) the city also hired a subcontractor to come out and dig some more around the drain...

...and improve the area by adding some concrete pipes...

...and in between the installation of concrete thingees and the grading that they still haven't done, we had the remaining trees taken out that were too big for me and rich to safely cut down (of course, we definitely considered doing it)...

...and this is the result. what is the most important element we see here? SUNLIGHT!!! yes, we now have sun shining on our former swamp. and a hell of a blank canvas to plant. drainage-wise, while the beehive thing is cool i have to admit it doesn't work very well--they installed it a few inches too high and the water still pools...hopefully they'll fix it when they come back to grade. but i digress...

check back soon for part three!


  1. kean and i are thinking that this interaction with the city makes an interesting contrast to you having to go on the news to shame abq into dealing with sofa waste by the ball field :) what a massive the image of rich with chain saw and you with flame thrower....

  2. I agree with Dawn.. the images are killer.. I think it would make a great cross stitch design on a hand towel (hmm.. my christmas present?)

    The City of Houston is much less cooperative..
    1. Broken water main - they came out 2 days later. Luckily our resourceful neighbor fixed it a couple of hours later. Won't pay the bill and replied this is now our issue because we intervened.
    2. Hurricane Ike created a leaning powerline - now leaning into one of our palm trees creating sparks and catching on fire. They came out the night we called.. but no intervention preformed. It still sparks.
    3. Side walks.. done without rebarb and now sunck and crooked. It's like walking on a tilt-a-world. Emily (in a wheel chair) can't get to our house from the street and our neighbors (older) mom fell. The city replied to our complaints that this is our problem.

    I'm extremely proud of Iowa City!!!

    luv, L

  3. lindsay, that is totally unacceptable! you can't have a flaming palm tree in your back yard without a steady supply of fruity drinks with umbrellas in your hand. besides, that must totally freak out the dogs. the sidewalk thing really is a serious issue--i would try calling a manager (i know you have all that spare time to do this). better yet, tell me who you talked to and i'll figure out the manager! i'm certain they are in violation of providing a safe place to walk out of traffic; maybe they are in violation of the americans with disabilities act. is emily an attorney now? ask her!

    also, you and dawn should meet--y'all would get along beautifully.

  4. I love that you are forever my protector!
    "you mess with me, you mess with all of us! "

    The sidewalk issue was initiated by my (resourceful) neighbor, who probably over-pestered them, knowing him. Not just calls, Jake even wrote emails.. not sure to who. It was reviewed then determined. Apparently, they relaid concrete less than 5 years ago.. but the jackasses didn't use rebar to stabilize it on clay soil!
    Result: Tilt-a-World. Incompetence is the problem. Kinda the theme of this whole house - though we love it very much!

    Is Dawn in Houston, ABQ?

    ((hugs)) and luv