Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hedgeling Kindergarten

We ordered 70 baby Canadian Hemlocks for our future hedge line around the back and side of our yard. Once they arrived, we had to soak their roots overnight in water. Did you know that you can fit 70 hedgelings into a single trash can? Who knew? In my head, I pictured them a little bit bigger.

Although they look nice and fluffy all grouped together in the trashcan, many of them arrived looking a bit scraggly. Quite a few were missing a lot of their needles. But then, they did get shipped to my house inside of a plastic bag. Poor little baby trees.

We dug a one foot wide ditch along the edge of our yard and ran a soaker hose along the bottom of it.

The soaker hose is great because it lets water slowly seep out directly under the roots of your plants. Since  our hedglings were going through the trauma of being uprooted, mailed, and replanted, it was important that we keep them well watered until they were firmly established. With the soaker hose, we just have to hook it up with the regular hose, turn on the water, and walk away for an hour. No walking all the way around the yard to water 70 little trees.

We planted the hedglings and put down a layer of mulch. Unfortunately, the one foot wide area didn't leave enough space for weed whacking or mowing around the hedge line without accidentally taking out the baby trees. So, the line of hedglings quickly became overwhelmed by very ambitious, opportunistic weeds. The mulch didn't really help to keep them at bay.

Enter 3 foot wide Weed Free landscape fabric from Lowes...

That'll keep those pesky weeds back! It was easy too. Simply roll out the fabric and cut a few X's to accommodate for the hedgelings..

Then spread some mulch over top of the landscape fabric to keep it in place.

Lastly, to ensure that the landscape fabric doesn't shift around or try to escape in a gale force wind (a huge problem here in VA), my mom suggested that I cut up some metal hangers in order to create some really big bobby pins.

If you cut the hangers at an angle, you get some seriously sharp points that are perfect for poking through landscape fabric.

For every five hedgelings, I pinned the fabric on either side.

I found that the best way to get the pins into the ground was to step on them. Once in, I covered them up with a bit of mulch. And voila! All done!

Did you notice how very little green is left on a lot of those hedgelings? Many (most) have lost some or all of their needles. The vast majority look like twigs poking up out of the ground. Very sad. Between the shock of being transplanted and (I think) our failure to fully utilize the soaker hose every single day it was sunny, the little hedglings are not doing so hot.

A few of them still look happy, green, and fluffy... A very few. Like this one:

Why, hello there! What a little survivor you are! Congratulations on keeping your needles! You passed hedgeling kindergarten! You shall henceforth be known as Sparky.

A+++ all the way, Sparky! High five! Way to stick it to the others!

My mom says that the hedgelings masquerading as twigs could bounce back with new growth. I'm watering them a lot and waiting to see. If that doesn't pan out, the nursery we bought them from will replace any hedgelings that don't survive within the first year for free. So, I'm not too stressed about it.

So, this whole process took the hedgelings' environment from skimpy...

To macho...

Hopefully, I won't be seeing any more weeds with a strangle hold on my babies. And hopefully my babies will recover and grow back some needles. If not, I guess I'll just have to trade in for some new babies and leave the soaker hose on a constant slow trickle until they grow into this:

Now that we have clearly defined yard boundaries, it's much easier for me to share the master yard plan with you:

We are planning to run a white picket fence along the street side of the yard. On the outside of that fence, there will be a raised, narrow garden bed with lots of creeping plants. The concrete pad that used to be a dog run is the site for our much needed larger garden shed. The white smokehouse that is currently operating as our (too small) garden shed is going to be transformed into the coolest kid's fort ever. I think I want the hedges to get about as tall as the kid's fort. Maybe run some veggie/flower/herb beds in front of the hedges. I'll leave the middle of the yard wide open for firefly catching and games of tag. We'll set up a mulched playground area on the backside of the house. And lastly, we'll regreenify the grass growing over the old driveway.

So that's the current plan. Other plans not pictured include some driveway extension and possibly a small back deck leading into our laundry/mudroom. Should be fun. Should take several years. Oh boy!


  1. I love the wire hanger stake idea!!! Thank you!!!
    I'm thinking nice, happy hedgeling thoughts at the dead sticks.

  2. The wire hanger idea is genius. Smart folks in your family.

    That is going to look really nice!


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