Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Unplanned Changes

Looking out my home office window one morning recently I saw this:




Then, when I took photos of my backyard for my wide shots post on October 1st, I saw this:




The beautiful - and dying - pine trees aren't on our property.  They belong to the next door neighbor, whose property extends beneath ours.  The neighbor visited us last Friday to let us know that 2 of his 4 pine trees in our line-of-sight will be coming out.  One is almost dead due to an attack by a pine beetle and the other is susceptible to the same scourge.  At the same time, the neighbor wants to cut back the oleander shrubs that align his driveway and, possibly, cut down the Yucca elephantipes that serves as a fence of sorts between his backyard and ours.

It turns out that the oleander officially belongs to us, which came as a surprise as it's largely invisible from the inside of our property.  Another shrub backs the oleander on our side, mostly screening it from view.  I'd assumed that this marked the edge of our property but the oleanders, which can only be accessed from the neighbor's driveway, are ours.  Why someone installed a hedge within a hedge here, I don't understand.  I also don't understand why the dividing line between the properties was designed in this fashion but, as the houses were built in the 1950s and the original owners are long gone, there's no one to provide an explanation.

View of the oleander shrubs from our side

View of the same oleanders from our neighbor's driveway



Ownership of the Yucca is unclear.  Both my neighbor and my husband would like it cut down because the plant is out of control.  Everywhere a branch touches the ground, it roots.  What was once a single plant is now a 20+ foot tall Yucca forest running down the slope, intersecting both properties.

View of the Yucca elephantipes from our backyard

View of the Yucca from the back slope after my husband cut it back in June



We're still waiting for an estimate on the Yucca's removal but the initial off-the-cuff estimate the neighbor received was very high as the plant must be hauled away in pieces - apparently, the wood is too dense to grind on-site.  Given it's placement along a relatively steep slope, we also can't get heavy equipment in to assist with the removal and the stump can't be ground - it would probably have to be poisoned.  How we'll create a separation between the 2 properties post-removal is also a question.  All I can say is ugh!


All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party



16 comments:

  1. Dear Kris, how sad that the two beautiful pine trees are dying! Honestly I actually like the oleander hedge (admittedly it looks nicer from your neighbors side than from yours) and also the yucca. But photos sometimes are deceiving and in reality it might look and feel differently. Anyway, the removal of the yucca sounds like a big deal. I guess, I would say ugh, too! Hope you find a good solution to tackle the situation. Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. The oleander hedge will just going be cut back, not removed. It HAS gotten very tall and the neighbor across the street has complained that it blocks his view but I never thought about cutting it back myself because I didn't think it belonged to us - property lines are a lot less clear here than at our former house! I have mixed feelings about the Yucca but my husband hates it so, if the neighbor also wants it gone, I probably won't fight them about it - it'll mean more light down on the slope, which may help in resurrecting the peach tree also planted down there. (I'm trying to see the positive side.)

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  2. Oh my big job ahead! And there's me almost saying that it's a lovely predicament to have a Yuuca forest. It'll be interesting to see what solution you all will come up with to divide the property post Yucca removal.

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    1. There is a peach tree down there, which my husband uncovered when he cut back the few stalks of the Yucca earlier. Frankly, I suspect that removing the Yucca is easier said than done. My guess is that we'll cut it way back, then have to make a plan to kill the stumps - and there will be a LOT of stumps. If the stumps aren't killed the plant will regenerate - as it's already doing where my husband cut it back earlier.

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  3. Ugh! Indeed. I'm not sure I could bear receiving the estimate Kris, maybe best sitting down before you open it too read!
    Removal of these plants will have huge impact on your garden. Will look forward to reading how this project pans out.

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    1. The initial quote was 4x the cost of removing 60 foot Eucalyptus tree last year, Angie, so unless we find a less expensive arborist, the cost will be a test of my husband's commitment to taking the Yucca out, especially when there's no guarantee that it won't grow back. Unless the stumps are poisoned, the Yucca forest will be back - just shorter.

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  4. Our opinions are tainted by our experiences aren't they? I'd say good riddance to the pines (having grown up with them everywhere), let the neighbor do as they wish with the oleander (but unfortunately have to pay for it?) and as for that yucca, well, I LOVE it and can't imagine ever wanting it to go away. It's gorgeous. But I can simply admire it from afar. Good luck!

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    1. The pine trees interfere with our view of the harbor but I still like them - it'll be interesting to see what removing 2 of them does to our view. The oleander will just be cut back - it is overgrown - and as I don't have much of a view of the plants except when strolling the street or standing in the neighbor's driveway, I can't say I care much. At least it'll make the neighbor across the street happy. (He's complained that the oleanders block his view of the harbor, which is a big deal here.) As to the Yucca, my guess is that my husband will be a) shocked by the cost and b) disappointed by the results. Once cut back, the challenge becomes how to poison the stumps to keep them from regenerating and I understand that's not easy but, then, my husband needs a new project.

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  5. The Yucca removal does sound like a major project, and I'm not sure I understand the reasons for wanting to get rid of it. Is it that it spreads everywhere it touches? You'd certainly end up with plenty of room to replant things you think are more interesting if you take out both the Yucca and the oleander.

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    1. My husband is afraid the Yucca's going to take over the property and our view. Admittedly, it's hard to control. It took us quite awhile just to cut back several stalks, haul them up the slope (they're very dense and extremely heavy and the slope's a somewhat precarious climb), and cut them into pieces for disposal. It was at least 2 weeks before we could off-load all of them as part of our green waste. And now it's growing back quickly...

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  6. What a pain. It's a shame the yucca isn't more easily controlled and able to just be a very small forest instead of threatening to take over the whole area.

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    1. There's a well-maintained Yucca elephantipes at the local botanic garden, Amy, but it's on level ground. This one wasn't well-maintained - I don't think anyone paid it any attention until we moved here. It has spread all the way down the slope and trying to do anything with it now is difficult because of its placement and the difficulty hauling the surprisingly heavy cuttings up the slope.

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  7. Inspect the oleander carefully - there is a blight that has been inexorably killing off oleanders all over So Cal - so if yours has any signs of blight, it may be time to remove it before the disease spreads. It looks like a fire blight - "burnt" looking leaves.

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    1. I took those photographs when the sun was glaring, Susan. I don't see signs of blight on these oleander, although I'mm aware that it's a problem in SoCal. If blight hits my area a lot of homeowners will be upset as oleanders have been over-planted in my neighborhood.

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  8. Wow lots of changes...we don't have shrubs separating property here...we are so close it is just a line you sort of know when you mow. Now backyards may have fences for dividing property. We recently found out our island bed is partly on the property next door. The house is vacant so before anyone moves in, I am moving things around and creating an easy bed that we will share. My special plants and herbs are going elsewhere.

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    1. It was a real shock to me when we moved here, Donna, to find the boundary lines so ill-defined. I wasn't used to that either. Good luck with moving your plants but I hope you get great new neighbors too!

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