My expensive, fucked up hedge.
the landscape saga
Hey! I recorded the audio for my paid subscribers, and as always, I add a ton that I didn’t write in the audio version. I literally cannot help myself. I could not stick to my own script to save my life.
The Ash trees are dying, apparently, thanks to some kind of tree plague, so over the course of this past year, many of the (Ash) trees that are just beyond my back fence, in between my yard and the university behind me, had to come down.
The left side of my back fence still looks fine. The right side? It’s a mess. It has a clear view of the dorm dumpster, the “beach” volleyball court, and the ugly dorms that were built in the 70s. And while the kids are playing volleyball, I’m at the game too.
So, I decided it was worth it to treat myself to a half hedge. Meaning, a hedge just on the right side of my fence. I couldn’t comfortably afford to do a FULL hedge, but even JUST some trees planted on that one side where I now had a dumpster view? It was worth it for ME, and it was worth it for resale.
So, I emailed the landscaper I’d worked with this spring, and told him I had a bad view now on one side of my fence, and sent him a picture of my vision…
I knew it would be weird to just have it on one side, but it was worth planting them now for coverage, and once I could afford to do more, I would balance it out on the other side.
They gave me a quote for planting some plain ol’ ‘green giants’ on that one side, and I sat with it for a little while and realized… oh man… planting on just one half of the fence, with just monoculture green giants? That really will look bad.
So I asked if we could mix and match different evergreens instead. They sent back some ideas, tall evergreen shrubs, different tree ideas, and then he stopped by my backyard to talk about the plan.
While he was at my house talking it through, I decided… you know what? Let me put one or two trees on the other side too, just to balance it out. I told him that. It was all CLEAR. It’s a big splurge but… hey it’s worth it. For coverage on the right side of my fence, and for something that looks really good, it’s worth it.
He told me that one of the evergreens that we decided on gets really wide, so it needed a little more space before it fills in, and I said: “that’s ok, a little space is fine, just as long as there’s some coverage on this side, soon.” He said he wanted to put it in the right corner, I said, ok, sounds good.
This morning they came to plant, at the crack of dawn. And I specifically stayed home this weekend so I could make sure the trees were going to be planted in the right spot. I went out to talk to the landscaper, who is actually the brother of the guy that I had made the plan with. He was measuring, and he said don’t worry, I’m going to line it all up and make sure it looks right!
Phew, that’s great.
But then… he never did that. He never lined them up at all, he just left. And his workers started using the machine to dig the holes where they were going to plant. And the holes looked like they were in the wrong places… But, calm down Caroline, they are the professionals. They know what they’re doing.
But then I watched them dig the holes, one by one…. and then I started counting the trees… no. This doesn’t make sense… there is going to be WAY too much room in between the trees, right in the place where I wanted the most coverage? And all of the other trees are going to be planted over where I don’t even need coverage at all, really really close together? They had to have planned this wrong…
I went out, and I talked to the guys before they actually put the trees in the holes. They didn’t really speak english. They didn’t really know what to do with what I was asking them, because they weren’t the ones in charge. They called the boss, he came back. I apologized to him, but… look? See that huge open space? I wanted the hedge to be on THIS side… and you’ve dug all the holes mostly on… that side? This doesn’t make any sense?
He assured me that the tree on this side was going to get REALLY big. It needed a lot of room. I wasn’t fully convinced… but… all of the evergreens I chose… for coverage, were specifically to have on… this side. More spread out…
It was clear to me. We made the wrong plan with this “big tree”. This meant I wasn’t going to have coverage, where I needed it most, for like… 3 years at least.
He assured me, it would eventually have coverage. But I kept thinking… Ok but… I STILL think you messed up the placement of the other ones… Like even though this was the wrong plan with the “big tree,” you still executed this wrong plan even more-wrong than it needed to be…
But… I guess… what do I know? I’m not a landscaper! Here I am, being super difficult, and I don’t even know what I’m talking about! I should just… trust him, right? It doesn’t seem right… it isn’t what I discussed or expected but… I mean… the holes are dug… they must have dug what they dug for a reason…
I apologized to the guys working, who had to pause and wait for the boss to come back, and said to the boss brother… “ok… I trust you… I think…”
The boss left. And I went inside, and I worked on writing my substack piece about health, “minerals and resilience,” that I’ve been talking about for ages, and tried to ignore what was happening out there, and just … trust.
I heard the guys finishing up.
I went outside and….
…as a reminder, this is what I originally wanted (+ something peppered in on the left when I decided to fully splurge):
This is what I got:
As you can see… the right side that I wanted covered has… nothing. It’s hard to tell what you’re looking at, but those 4 shrubs (viburnums) that are in between 4 trees, are also going to get very big and wide so… why are they so damn close together? THEY SHOULD BE MORE SPREAD OUT. THEY MESSED UP.
Yes, that one lone tree on the right WILL get big, it will, but… think… if that viburnum and the cryptomeria (the two on the right) are supposed to fill that ENTIRE space on the right, then I wasted thousands of dollars on 6 evergreen trees I didn’t even NEED.
But the truth is, I don’t think they will fill that whole space. I think they messed up.
The “it will get big” tree (cryptomeria) should be closer to the corner, and all the rest of them should be more spread out...
But the workers are gone. The boss is gone. And I don’t have a cell number. It’s a Saturday, and they weren’t in the office when I called. And I only have their email, an email that they seem to check about once a week. But I emailed this picture above saying… “I’m very nervous about this… now that it’s all planted… are you sure this is right?”
I am secretly hoping that the brother boss, the brother of the one who was here today, will be able to see how messed up the spacing is here… please God. Someone save me here.
Actually, just now, someone called me, and I picked up so fast hoping it was them. But alas, it was only “Genevieve with working families.”
I sent a picture to my mom. She said, ‘oh, call them to come back, I don’t think this is quite right either.’ And she started sending what they should move around. All I could think was… they’re not going to want to do all that.
My two other friends said, oh WOW yes have them fix that!
Fixing this won’t be easy. Half of the job was hauling in these plates that covered a path in my yard so the huge digger tractor could roll into my yard. It’s a big job. There’s big equipment, there’s live, sad trees that just want a forever home… it’s a lot.
They’re not going to want to do it.
Also, it’s going to get colder fast, so, it’s a tight timeline.
Here is the thing… I don’t know what I should have done in the situation differently, because I spoke up three times today. I went out when they arrived and he told me he was going to line them up so he could see them (and I thought: great I’ll be able to see too.) He never did that. I ran out when they had dug three of the holes and said “I thought we were going to be staggering them?” They said they were, even though I did think… hmmmm why are the shrubs this far over on the left side? But, I thought maybe I wasn’t seeing the full picture, so I went back inside. THEN I kept watching, started counting the shrubs and that’s when I had them call the boss guy back and he convinced me it was going to be fine….
Also? I was so excited for this. Turns out I really am aging rapidly, just a lady in the suburbs who is excited about her hedge. It felt like suchhhh a splurge, but it felt SO worth it. Now? I feel like I have trees I never needed, crammed into a random part of my yard for no reason. And this was expensive. Really.
So, I panicked. Then I cried. Then I went outside, and laughed at how fucking stupid it looks.
Luckily, I haven’t paid them yet, so hopefully they will fix it, somehow, before I do pay. I’m just anticipating a very half-assed fix, and me crumbling when they either: insist that nothing is wrong, or insist that the half-assed fixed is a good fix, and worth the money I will be paying for this joke of a hedge. Because, what I ideally need is like… at least 4 of these trees moved over slightly… and I know they’re not going to want to do that.
Not to really complain, but… they also never mulched the trees like the quote said they would, annnnnnnd, my stepping stones were put back all wrong, so I have to jump from stone to stone. I tried to move them myself but I am… very weak and I injured my finger and gave up.
I just … needed to vent. This was a project I could barely afford, and here I am… with a very very ridiculous fucked up, expensive hedge.
I texted my neighbors, warning them about the weirdest landscaping they’ve ever seen, because I was afraid they would judge me when they saw it. So funny enough, getting a “lol” back from my neighbor actually took away some of my anxiety. Some.
I haven’t paid yet, and my neighbor laughed.
Maybe they’ll fix it, and it’ll look fine.
And maybe… in the end, I won’t have wasted thousands of dollars.
Next time, you’ll get to read what I was writing while my yard was getting fucked up: Minerals and Resilience (the ‘health resilience’ post).
If you want to read the email I drafted to send the landscaper today, become a paid subscriber.