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!
THUS...here 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!