This summer, I decided to shorten and thin out the hedges in the backyard.
I took on this challenge because I wanted to see if it would make the yard look larger and because I have been at war with the hedges for the past six years.
Sure, the hedges and I are often friendly to each other, but we both know what the other is thinking when we see each other.
“What an ugly eyesore for the yard,” the hedges often think about me.
“Is there a difference between hedges and bushes? Is it possible to have just one hedge? And why do I have to trim you so often?” I often think while looking at the tall green plants that are in a row in my yard.
Cutting the hedges shorter was a strategic move to hopefully reduce the work I would put in with the hedges in the future while also showing them who is boss.
I did manage to pull a bunch of them out of the ground, shorten the rest and cut my hands several times. I also made a huge mess in the yard, as I filled it with hedge trimmings, vines, dirt and expletives.
When I was finished, I was tired and dirty, the hedges looked like a row of short, bare sticks and I was not quite sure who was the boss.
For the next few days, I questioned if all of the effort had been worth it. The yard looked terrible, I was sore and I kept finding spots that I needed to go back and trim again.
After a week or two, though, the hedges actually started to look pretty nice. They began to get some new leaves, the grass started to grow near them and it really did make the yard look larger.
And then, the coolest thing happened when I was cutting the grass and noticed an odd plant sprouting up near the hedges.
I wasn’t sure if it was a weed or flower, but I let it grow so that I could see find out. Was it a pretty flower? Could it be corn? How about a magic beanstalk? You never know where you will find one of those.
Over the next week, it kept growing, so I asked my wife about it, as she had lived in the house long before I arrived on the scene. (I assume she refers to these times as the dark ages).
She was happy to see the little plant, and explained to me that there used to be a row of them growing in front of the hedges. She had not seen the plants, though, in several years.
And then soon after, a few more of them popped up near the hedges, along with another type of flower.
I almost pulled out the second type of flower, as I originally thought it was just a weed. My wife let me know that it also used to be prevalent in front of the hedges, back when the hedges were not very thick.
As the hedges had grown and expanded their evil empire over the years, these two types of plants had apparently gone into hiding and stayed underground. My wife thought they had just died out, and she was happily surprised to see them growing once again.
We even had a few more surprises thanks to the cut down hedges:
- I found 4 racquetballs – I don’t know why they were in the hedges, but it became kind of fun to keep finding them there.
- The cat loves the new hedges – They are easy for her to walk through, jump over and hunt inside in order to catch racquetballs.
- It’s easier to spy on the neighbors now – Are they in their yard again? What are they cooking? How can I invite myself over?
- I’ve started playing racquetball again.
I love how the hedges look now and they are much easier to trim. We are still not friends, but we have developed an understanding.
And, wouldn’t you know it, those hedges taught me a valuable lesson about how your actions can result in unintended consequences.
By trimming back a few hedges, suddenly I have given new life to several plants that I didn’t even know were there. I love seeing the plants that sprung up, and I expect them to spread more next spring and summer and make our yard look even nicer.
I also like the surprises of finding racquetballs and new hiding places for the cat.
It’s funny how in life your actions can change the lives of others without you even realizing it.
I suppose the point to remember here is that it’s important to take the effort to try to make positive changes, whether it is in your yard or in your community. You’ll be surprised at how often it will benefit others and help you in ways you had never imagined.
It can even change your perspective so that when you see something that used to frustrate you or upset you, like the hedges, you now just feel happy and inspired.