Updated: Jun 15
When we bought our new property we knew we had some heavy outdoor clean up to do. The previous owners were older, whose kids had grown up and moved away (which was also the reason they were selling), and they either couldn't keep up with the outdoor care or saw no reason to. The scrub, thorny vines, and all manner of nuisance plants were growing wild around the house. It looks like they may have done some clean up before selling, like pulling climbing vines away from the house, but otherwise, it had been left to nature.
The first weekend after we closed on the house was to clear a 300-ish square foot area of everything, clear the leaves and put up a fence. We opted for a no-climb horse fence and T-posts, as it would be faster, easier, and cheaper to put up. We needed somewhere the small children and the dog could run around without risk of running away. It took us most of one day to clear it. Kallo, I and our teenage son took turns on who was working, and who was watching the littles. The area had certainly not been used for many, many years, evinced by the decades-old, glass Pepsi bottle we found under the top layer of leaves. We found other little bits and pieces of things, probably remaining from the construction of the house in the 70s, also.
We fenced off the small area and kept the weeds mowed down so there were fewer places for mosquitoes to hide, got tiki torches with the citronella fuel, and made sure to clear any standing water. The bugs were still bad during the extra wet spring but once it warmed up in late June, and the sun came out more, the flying blights were lessened.
This gave us time to get repairs done inside, move-in furniture and unpack the basics, without the kids being underfoot. Even with that help, it still took a few weeks to get the house in some kind of workable order and to purge the accumulation of STUFF that we'd had in the 5 years at our old house. The two 26' truckloads and dozens of pickup truck loads it took to get everything here was an obvious sign I needed to downsize things.
Once the inside was livable and comfortable, we moved onto working on the exterior. The weather was favorable since it wasn't terribly hot. We cleared the pathways around the sides of the house, then started work on the shoulder-high mess that surrounded the little play area and the back. We needed to clear the plant life that could damage the septic field, like the saplings that were growing, that would send down too-big roots and possibly grow into the pipes there.
We had to have thick leather gloves because the thorns on the wild blackberry plants were brutal, as well as thorny ash and even two rose bushes that were doing oddly well, but in unfortunate places. I hated to tear out all the berry-producing bushes but we needed a clear area for living and working outside. If it couldn't be pulled out by hand, we cut it down as close to the ground as we could, then tried to dig out as much main root system as possible. The low lying weeds and vines were mowed down by our lawnmower. It ate up a lot and was even used in place of a brush hog when we got too exhausted. It mowed down anything that was smaller than an inch in diameter and mulched the mat of leaves really well. Of course, mowing down the growth instead of pulling it out by the roots means it will regrow, and much more quickly, but that still gave us a clear area to work with.
We spread grass seed over the septic field and now are pulling out and mowing down the scrub regrowth as it comes. It is important to have something growing over the septic field, as that uses moisture and somewhat insulates the ground from the snow and cold. Frozen septic leach field = expensive and gross problems. If we take care of the septic tank and field, it'll take care of us (and the household waste) for a long, long time.
When all was said and done in the back yard, we cleared about 2000 square feet of overgrowth. I am ever impressed with Kallo's continued hard work. Not only does he work 40+ hours at his day job during the week, he still comes home and puts in a lot more work on the homestead. I feel very blessed to be his other half and very proud of him!