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Goodbye, Mulberry

That’s right, we finally pulled the trigger on getting rid of the mulberry. We even spent the extra moola to get the stump ground down. As I’ve lamented many times here, the thing grows like a weed, attacks the roof, and shades the solar panels. We would basically have to get it pollarded once a year to keep it in check. Here is how it looked a few days ago from the back patio:

Mullberry from the patio

And here was the view from the far corner of our yard:

Mulberry in the yard

The tree cutter guys didn’t show up until the afternoon so they only managed to get the mulberry down to the stump by the end of the first day. Dakota thought the chainsaws were awesome:

Dakota watching the tree cutters

And here is where we were at the end of day one:

Mulberry removal progress

The overgrown privet on the right against the fence was also slated for removal, as was the small dead tree against the fence just to the right of the stump in the picture above. The big tree to the far left is the elderberry, and it got a stay of execution… for now.

Here’s the new view from the back corner of the yard The elderberry is more obvious of course, but there’s just sooo much more space!

Yard without mulberry

And here’s the view from the patio:

Patio view after

No more little dead tree, no more privet and NO MORE MULBERRY! I’m a little sad though… The thing was big enough to support a tire swing or something similar, and the shade it cast on the yard in the summer was quite nice. Now we’re debating putting in a more reasonable tree, something that can give some shade (and maybe a little privacy from our back fence neighbor) without growing super fast.

As a bonus, they also removed the stump from the yucca in the front yard. (Yucca’s are much more sponge-like so it hardly took any time at all to grind up.) Here’s how it looked after Dave took a chainsaw to it last week:

Yucca-Free PatioAnd here we are now:

No more yucca stump

Unfortunately yuccas (and mulberries and privets, for that matter) can all grow back from just the roots. The pros did a pretty good job of pulling up roots and grinding everything down, but we may very well be battling the reemergence of these plants from now on. Ah well, at least now we stand a chance of winning!


Outdoor Chores

It’s warmed up a bit here in the bay area, so I’ve been trying to salvage some of the horrible mess that is our outdoor space. First up, some looongggg overdue love for our little orange tree. It finally got some real sunlight this past year since we cut the mulberry tree way back. But it was extremely lopsided since it had been stuck half in the shade for so long. Dave had pruned it some last year to try and balance it out, but we didn’t want to cut away too much foliage all at once. So I figured it was time to take another stab at it. Here are the results:

Orange Tree

Someday I’ll learn to not try to take pictures of trees in bright morning sunlight, but hopefully you get the idea. It’s still looking a bit sparse, but hopefully it’ll fill in a bit more this year.

If you lean in and squint you can see that there are actually quite a lot of fruits growing on it at the moment. They’re actually delicious, about the size and flavor of clementines, but there are a TON of seeds in them, like two or three in each section. I generally only eat them outside so I can spit the seeds out as I go. I did harvest a few ripe ones before cutting off some of the big branches:


But there are more where that came from, many more than we can possibly eat. They just need a little more time to grow.

I also FINALLY weeded and cleaned out all of the old fallen oranges under the tree. There were a bunch of random bricks placed haphazardly around the base of the tree, so I moved them to one side so I could rake, fertilize, and mulch. And then I uncovered this guy:

Happy Face

It’s a concrete paver with a face. At first i thought he was a bit creepy, but now that the area is more groomed I think he’s kinda sweet. He needs a name though. Fred? Marvin? I’m open to suggestions.

Speaking of the mulberry tree, here’s how it’s looking one year after being pollarded:

Mulberry Tree

It did sprout and then drop a bunch of leaves, so it’s not like it sat dormant all year. And now there are many, many new branches growing out from the main limbs. The thing really is just a giant weed. But it provides some very nice shade, so I continue to resist the urge to just have it cut down. We’ll probably need to get it cut back again in the fall though.

Anyway, that ends the productive things I can report. Next on my to-do list is attempting to fix up the front and back lawn. The front lawn is actually looking a bit greener and less sparse, but there are still some big sections that are dominated by weeds. Here’s the area by the fence:

Front Yard Fence

I’m actually tempted to turn that area into a row of flowers or something since it gets such good sun and it’s hard to mow. But for now I just have to get rid of those weeds! And here’s the rest of the yard; the weeds are a bit hard to see in the photo (sorry!) but trust me, they are abundant, especially along the edges where we didn’t get good sprinkler coverage and all the grass died:

Front Yard

Our neighbor must have finally weed-whacked his paver-stoned area (to the left of the picture) because it used to match our weeds a lot better. And OF COURSE all of the rest of our neighbors somehow effortlessly keep their lawns looking loverly, so we stick out like a sore thumb. Waa. It’s okay, they all have grown-up kids and think our attempts at responsible homeownership are cute. 🙂 Luckily, they can’t see our back yard, which is even worse:

Back Yard

Allow me to highlight the especially silly-looking areas:

Back Yard Messes

In the yellow box we have my thriving dandelion garden. This is yet another spot where all of the grass had died over the summer, and the dandelions took over during the winter. And they’re so tall, I’m sure the roots are going to be impressive. Sigh.

In the red box is the crazy jasmine/bougainvillea growing back together again to form a crazy chimera-like monster. I had gotten that under control over the course of last winter/spring, but growing things have this tendency to, you know, GROW. It’s still not nearly as bad as it was, but I want to deal with it pretty soon before it gets completely out of control again. Maybe I’ll wait until the jasmine is done blooming in a month or so, because it’s so nice for a few weeks when it blooms, but there aren’t any flowers on new growth, so we didn’t have any last year after I cut it back. It would be sad to miss out on flowers two years in a row.

in the blue box is a spot where a few fence slats have fallen down. Boooo. In fact they’re leaning against one of the rose bushes… I’m such a bad plant mom. 😦 We’ll probably just nail those slats back into place with the help of a supporting cross-piece, because I’m still trying to stall before we replace the whole fence.

I’m not even going to take a picture of the side yards, because they are just flourishing weed jungles at the moment. I guess I should also save the apple tree from weeds pretty soon and maybe fertilize while I’m at it, but otherwise I plan to pretty much ignore the side yards. Well, maybe if I need to let out some pent up aggression I’ll attack a chunk at a time with the hoe. We’ll see. 🙂


We did it, we finally tackled the mulberry tree. Or rather, we finally got around to hiring someone to tackle it. The tree guys came out, took a look, and decided it was way overgrown and our best bet would be to pollard it. We’ve seen some pretty strange-looking pollarded trees, especially on the Berkeley campus, but mulberry trees just grow so darn fast that it suits our main goals perfectly: keep the tree from taking over the yard/destroying our roof while still keep a chunk of the back yard in shade in the summer. Anyway, here’s the only “before” picture I could find:

(Sorry, crappy phone picture...)

And here is the pollarded, skeletal after:

So that's what the sky looks like!

The now-taller tree in the background is the elderberry tree that is leaning over our neighbor’s yard a tiny bit. We probably need to either pollard that one too, or maybe just cut it down entirely. Luckily, our neighbors are pretty much easy-going procrastinators like us, so there’s no rush.

And now, for a never-before-seen view of the back of our house!

Please ignore the pile of cardboard boxes...

Yup, our roof feels a lot less threatened now. And see that bushy green tree thing getting oh-so-much sun to the right of the house in the back of the picture? it’s our citrus tree!! And now it might actually do a little better since the mulberry tree isn’t leaning over it.


We aren’t really sure if they’re supposed to be edible, but the tree trimmers chomped down on a few during their break, so maybe we should actually get it looked into. It certainly has a lot of fruit right now…