Brooke here.

Last Monday night, a tree tried to crush us.  I have a tidy post written up about it but it won’t be posted until (if) the insurance is finalized.  Caveat: our insurance company is awesome, and the claims adjuster they sent out was very helpful and recognized what whats were what-what.  But for the time being, let’s avoid the specifics with a brief summary:

So there was this tree.  Huge thing, probably seventy feet tall and about two feet in diameter at the base.  It was uprooted in a storm, and fell directly at our house, where a big old oak said OH NO YOU DIDN’T! and caught the offending pine a spectacular arboreal half-nelson right before it smashed into the roof.  We had the tree guys come out, who did their thing, and left a pile of tree parts in their wake:

Nuts, I forgot to use a dog for scale.

We have become the proud owners of big stumps.  And, as several other trees should come down before they fall on the house (Tree guy: “I’m not trying to upsell you here but you see how that other pine is losing its bark and is leaning towards your house?”  Me: “^%$*!!!!!!!”), we will soon have even more big stumps!

You got your stumps in my acre of ivy! You got your acre of ivy in my stumps!

Hence: Stumpwall.  See, there’s all of this ivy…  Okay, you guys have to season this idea to taste before digging in, since I’m well aware that Stumpwall might be the most hickish kludge I’ve ever concocted.  But there is all of this ivy!   The entire lot is covered in nothing but ivy!  We’ve been removing it when and where we can, but it will grow back unless we remove the roots and throw up a barrier between the established growth and the clean zone.  As (1) we don’t know for sure what we want to do with the landscaping yet so it’s a waste of money to throw up something permanent; and (2) we don’t have the money to even consider the idea of something more permanent; and (3) we’ve begun a rather spectacular collection of stumps…

Stumpwall! Mighty! Noble! A message to all friends and neighbors that we almost sort of care about our yard!

The easiest part of the project was aligning the stumps.  Yesterday, Jenny came over and we spent five hours hauling the unusable wood to a dump site and ripping ivy roots out of the soil before we started on Stumpwall.  For all of ivy’s many, many irritating qualities, ivy pulling is almost therapeutic and it is satisfying to see the pile of roots grow.  We lashed Zu to a nearby tree and went at it until we had cleared a driveway-sized patch of land.

(Zu has had a week and a half, by the way.  He is deep in the worst of Puppy Adolescence.  He’s on a leash full-time as he’s hell-bent on running up to neighbors and barking furiously at them until they pet him; this rarely gets the results he wants, so he tries harder.  We have to keep the door locked as he’s learned he can run outside by throwing his weight against the storm door; he does this with the Dutch door and has managed to lock us out a couple of times.  He ate a pen and spent a day at the vet’s getting his guts photographed and his poop examined.  He’s had a nasty head cold with some sort of snot that looks like white-green liquid cement and, as you discover after he has sneezed on you, has similar adhesive properties.  Following a walk, he spat out a live toad on the kitchen floor and gave Brown a look of disgust, disdain, and horrified offense which said, quite clearly, “It peed in my mouth!”)

Jenny and I raked and hoed and dug and pulled and yanked and hauled and, at the end of it, had achieved sufficient ivy-free earth to start laying out Stumpwall.  Her husband, Greg, arrived and helped us lay out the stumps.

The Stumpwall. It shall last for a hundred thousand complaints, or until we can afford to replace it with something nice.

Stumpwall won’t do much for the property values, but it will be hidden behind the (future) fence and will keep the ivy at bay.  The next stage of Stumpwall is to cut out the topsoil and replace it with some brick chips and mulch, so any remaining ivy roots won’t be able to get purchase.  And, as Greg pointed out, we’ll have such a nice little firebreak it’ll probably turn any local fires into a flamethrower running across the road.

9 thoughts on “Stumpwall!

  1. I’ve put untreated cut wood in various places for various things. Keep a close eye on this stuff for termites. Even if your house is checked/treated for termites, untreated wood–especially soft wood–hanging out near your house may become a haven for termites and possibly help introduce them into your house.

    Not to suggest you shouldn’t use them, just that you should keep an eye on them. Good luck containing that ivy!

    1. That is a really good point. I’ll run down to the local Kill-’em-All store this weekend and pick up some termite pre-treater.

  2. I love Stumpwall!

    I myself have Stumpedge holding all my raised beds in place, although they’re laid on their sides. On the other hand, if I think it’s a good idea, you may need to worry…

  3. Being from Vermont, my first thought was “look at all that firewood.” But I guess you guys don’t have a woodstove? The hard part is finding an appropriately aged and enthusiastic individual to split it all. Boyscouts work well for this.

  4. I’ve read some of your other ivy pulling posts and have been wondering if you have ever tried weilding a rake like this one: ? (It’s the first decent image I found). It does the multi-duty of being able to get rid of the top layer into a semi rolled up ball, twining vines for ease of yanking, and can till to get the roots and then you can yank the roots as well.

    Just wondering what you’ll do with the actual stumps (part stuck into the ground) since you can’t use them for the stump/trunk wall? Statue pedestals?

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