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Backyard Landscaping Day 1: Quaking Aspen Root Barrier

Posted Apr 16 2013 10:13pm

The landscaping crew started work on our backyard project today.  I've been excited about this project for months, but I began the day feeling seriously stressed after one of the workers dug out my dogwood tree to make room for their heavy equipment to access the backyard.  I expected he would take as much care with the roots as my husband did when he transplanted that tree two years ago.  I was wrong.  I'm not sure if my tree will survive with its newly tiny root ball, but I'm reminding myself that the tree is replaceable if the worst happens.  I also stressed over the damage done to the new growth on my plants when the temperature dropped to 23 degrees F last night.  Ouch.  Deep breaths. 

Speaking of deep, today was spent digging a big trench along the back fence.  Our neighbors across the fence planted a bunch of quaking aspen trees all along the property line, and I knew that the trees' famously aggressive roots would take over my backyard if we didn't create a barrier.  An older aspen tree near the corner was already producing dozens of baby aspens growing up from its roots in my strawberry patch. 

And here are some of those blasted aspen tree roots that have already grown many feet into my yard.  After the workers left, I climbed down into the trench and pulled or cut out as many roots as I could from my soil.  Even though I avoid using herbicides/pesticides in my garden, we'll have to use Roundup on the roots that get left in our ground after the project.  Tomorrow the workers are going to install a Plexiglas barrier that extends four feet deep and stretches across the entire back fence and part of the side fence.  There will be a six inch to one foot gap between the barrier and our fence, and we'll have to spray the baby trees that pop up in that area with Roundup each year.  That was the best idea the landscapers could come up with the prevent the aspens from taking over our yard.

Here is the current view from an upper window.  My kids think the big equipment and giant piles of dirt are very cool.  I think they're pretty cool as well, though I wish this part of the project wasn't costing thousands of dollars.  Looking on the bright side, at least the neighbor's aspens will provide a nice screen of leaves from our yard as well as theirs while my slower growing trees are still maturing.  

I worried plenty about my trees as the worker maneuvered the bobcat around while digging the trench.  It was a tight squeeze, but thankfully only one small branch was broken.  I'm praying for similar results tomorrow when the trench gets filled in.  Then the landscapers will remove the lawn from around the edges of the yard and install the encircling flagstone path.  More pictures to come!
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