Phnglui mglw nafh Cthulhu R’lvy wgah nagl fhtag

Brooke here:

After the last two weekends of pulling ivy, I’m fairly positive Lovecraft was nothing but a gardener with a poor imagination and a good friend who told him to add teeth and tentacles.  This is a dark and malicious plant.  We have a pile of ivy roots taller than the dogs and we haven’t gone past a small 20 x 20 plot of the front yard.

Front lawn, before any work was done
Front lawn after two weekends of hedge-clipping and ivy-pulling. SEE THE DIFFERENCE IS IT NOT AWESOME PLEASE SEND VICODIN THANKS

The hacking and the slashing and the pulling and the … well, the horror, really, is that there is very little progress to be seen.  We’re exhausted but the ivy stands firm.  There is some progress in removing the ornamental bushes for replanting; since a large portion of the front yard has to be leveled, the bushes are either going to be tilled under or they need to be dug out and replanted.  We’ve gone with the replanting option.  I’ve cut back the foliage to the bare sticks, and we use an old iron root buster that’s been in Brown’s family for three generations to cut the roots and lift the bush out of the dirt.

If you’re unfamiliar with a root buster, it’s a thirty-five pound iron bar you drive into the earth repeatedly until you’ve cut a circle around the plant.  Then you jam the bar under the plant and use it as a wedge to pull it out.  The process is exhausting.  I can do this twice per day before my arms refuse to work; once per day if I have to draw later and don’t want my hands trembling.  Brown, who is in much better shape, can repeat this five or six times and then needs a nap.

There are approximately forty-five ornamental bushes in the front lawn alone, and I keep finding more under the ivy…


We bust a shrub out of the ground, peel the ivy from its roots and its base, and then wrap the root ball up in water-permeable garden fabric for replanting next month.  It’s probably good that we’re doing this, as the ivy is so thick it’s nearly smothered some of the more mature bushes (noted with green landscaping paint, below):


The most funnest part ever is when the wisteria roots grow straight up through the bush! Such JOY!

We’ve been lucky as it’s rained the last few days, and ivy is easier to pull from wet ground than dry.  But it would sure be nice to see some actual progress at some point because ivy?  It’s a monster.



3 thoughts on “Phnglui mglw nafh Cthulhu R’lvy wgah nagl fhtag

  1. Why save all the bushes? I would have defaulted to tilling the entire yard under anyways, but do you really need 45+ of these bushes?

    1. Yes! Most of them are mature ornamentals. The little baby ones ones are about $8 at the store, and the big ones are $15 and up. We’d be tilling five hundred bucks!

  2. I would see if you could get someone at a local arboretum or a horticulture specialist to tentatively identify them by species. Or at least check your state’s registry of invasive shrubs.

    Barberry & Burning Bush are common invasive ornamentals here in NY and should only be planted where they can’t run wild.

    I’d hate for you to do all that work over weedy scrub like amur honeysuckle or buckthorn. I spend one weekend a month just keeping in check the morass of honeysuckle/buckthorn/wild rasberry that edges our lawn on two sides (can’t clear cut & burn because it’s “forever wild” town property) and trimming the blasted Barberry hedges in the landscaping.

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