All posts by Wade

THE HEDGES

While I’m thinking about the grounds, I want to take a minute to talk about the hedges along Cedar Grove Way.

As many of you know, we’ve discussed the need to trim the hedges several times over the last several months. Earlier this year, the hedges were way out of control, and the grounds contractor came through and trimmed them. By the time he had finished, they were almost as bad as when he had started because they grew so fast. There have been a number of complaints about the hedges not being trimmed sufficiently, and not enough. So after careful consideration and discussions with the Grounds committee as well as the managing agent and the grounds contractor, it was decided to have the hedges cut severely, to 4′. I want to make a point of stating that the contractor was obligated to trim the hedges twice this year, but not to cut them. He’s doing this at no additional charge to the community – and this is a VERY difficult process. The contractor from last year – Class A – allowed the hedges to get to the height they are at now – and we were paying them about 500$ a month more than the current contractor. Class A also refused to remove the poison ivy and other weeds from the hedges, even though they were under contract to do so. The contractor this year, however, has done everything we have asked of him, and at a very good price. I didn’t use the word “fair” because I really don’t know how he’s making money doing it.

As for how it looks – well, yeah, it looks terrible right now. No one is disputing that. Yes, the difference in privacy to the corner lots along Cedar Grove Way is stark. We expected that. However, this kind of hedge needs to be trimmed severely on occasion, especially when they get as tall as they have. I asked one of the resident grounds professionals about it before we awarded the new contract, and he said the best thing to do would be to cut them all down to the ground and let them grow back. That way, they would be healthier, and we could also remove all the poison ivy and other vines and weeds easily. Now THAT would have been an aesthetic shocker. If you walk to the end of the hedge row, near Nasselle, however, you’ll see that in just a few weeks time, in the fall no less, there is lots of new growth already on the bushes that were cut first. So the hedges WILL grow back, and they will be prettier than ever.

Also, as I’m sure you you’ve seen, the hedges are very wide. Consider how they would look if we had asked the grounds guys to cut both the height and width at the same time. If you think they look bad now, then imagine what they would have looked like with NO leaves remaining.

Long and short here, I’m asking that you take a long view of the aesthetics. When you ride by, or when you look out your window, and think “WOW those hedges look awful,” try to imagine how nice they will look around May of next year.

PRETTIEST YARDS

As many of you know, I walk just about everyday. It’s been great for my health and energy level, and I get the extra bonus of meeting my neighbors and talking to them regularly.

I’ve noticed a number of really nice yards in my walks, and I’ve been meaning to share a view or 2 of what I think are great yards for a while. Before I post anything here or online, I want to make sure the resident is ok with that, so while I have every intent of sharing, I tend to forget that intent about 5 minutes further into my walk.  Sorry.

HOWEVER, today I was walking, and I noticed a yard once again that has consistently been to me the epitome of the perfectly kept yard – and I finally thought to get permission from the resident this time to post a picture of their yard, and here it is…

Not too long ago I posted another blog here talking about lawn maintenance in general. In that post, one of the things I talked about doing was calling out the best yards periodically.  We haven’t officially started that, so this is just a Wade’s 2 cents comment – I always notice how nice this yard looks.  There are several yards that are way above average in our neighborhood – and I’ll call them out soon too.  But this one always catches my eye.

On the news & notices side, we have a 4 member Grounds Committee currently, and we’re starting to put together some ideas on general maintenance expectations. One of the things that the Board is responsible for is making sure that the neighborhood complies with the Declarations.  The Board relies on the Grounds committee to work with contractors and neighbors to make sure that the common areas as well as other visible areas of the neighborhood are all maintained to a reasonably attractive standard. When you have a chance, take a look at my previous post on Lawn Care.

As we get closer to the fall, I’ll be sharing more information on things we’re planning to do to help with problem yards. One of the easiest things to do, regardless of the content of your lawn, is to keep it mowed weekly.  No matter how many weeds or how little grass there is, if it’s short, it’s not all that bad.

Keep waving!

Wade

NATURE STUFF

So I’m walking along the trail this evening around 7:30 or so, maybe 8:00, and I’m thinking it would be cool to see a snake or something. Some of you will recall that on the neighborhood cleanup day we saw a good size black snake crossing the trail at the end of Cedar Grove on his way to the creek. That was cool.

Yesterday I was almost back home and I saw a baby rabbit run across the trail and into the woods. Cute, but not very fulfilling. I’m thinking “there’s got to be something out here – I’ve heard people say they’ve seen deer in their yards – they’ve got to live in these woods somewhere… why can’t I ever see them?” The other day I heard something in the woods, but it could have been anything. Sometimes I’ll be walking along enjoying the woodsy – honey suckle smells, and then get a whiff of something that smells like, a skunk. I doubt it’s a skunk, and I know there are foxes out there because every now and then when I’m outside sitting by the fire I’ll here what sounds like the blood-curling scream of someone being eaten in the woods. That kind of freaked me out the first time I heard it, but after doing some research I found that a fox makes that sound when it’s mating.

(Which is kinda messed up.)(Really — check this out …)

Anyway – I’m walking the trail this evening and as I’m thinking these thoughts, a deer jumps out of the bushes on the left side of the trail and bounds across the trail into the woods on the right and was gone. It scared the crap out of me. But it was SO COOL! I yanked my phone out of my pocked to try and get a picture, but that was stupid because it was already gone. I did, however, get a picture of deer tracks

–maybe that one, maybe not. So now every time I walk the trail I’ll be looking for deer. I’ll probably never see another one.

I also got a picture of the baby geese this evening!

At least I’ll have something to remember them after the hawks and owls have eaten them all this year.

(Too Much?)

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy the trail! They mowed it today!

TRAIL WARNINGS

I’ve been meaning to post something ever since we cleaned up the trail a few weeks back regarding the vegetation you will find. For many of us, this is stuff we grew up hearing and in many cases experiencing the hard way, so there will be those of you who recognize this information and recall times in your past when those lessons left their marks.
But for those of you less familiar with the joys of the outdoors, or who have not encountered the less friendly flora of the Virginia landscape, I offer the following.

A while back I posted some information about the toxic weeds that you can find in our neighborhood – Poison Ivy, Poison Oak and Poison Sumac. (http://cedargrovehoa.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=221&action=edit)
I want everyone to be very aware of these plants when walking the trail.  Poison Ivy has 3 smooth leaves, and can be a wide range of colors.  The first picture below is of a very mature plant, and looks hardier than the darker green leaves on the vine below it. But they are both Poison Ivy, and they will both make you itch like crazy.

While the five leaved Virginia Creeper plant that resembles poison ivy is not toxic, it often grows side by side with both Poison Ivy AND Poison Sumac, so it’s usually best to steer clear of that as well.

Another thing to be VERY aware of is that the oil from the Poison Ivy can get on your shoes and clothing, and your pet’s fur, and while you may not have any problems immediately, you could inadvertently track that into your home later, and eventually come in contact with it and experience a surprise rash. So watch where you are walking – and look for the familiar “leaves of three,” and “leave them be” – stay clear of them.

But it’s equally as important to watch for Sumac along the trail – it is the perfect area for it, and there are some sizable Sumac bushes that you REALLY don’t want brushing your face. I had that happen as a kid and ended up with a rash in my eyes that I had to put a salve in every day for a week to help me recover – it was awful. So look out for this bush and leaf structure –

One of my FAVORITE types of cobbler is Blackberry. (if you don’t know what that is, it’s a big square dish with flour, sugar and berries baked into a pie-like pastry – they’re DELICIOUS.) And we have tons of Blackberry bushes in the neighborhood. But be careful and pay attention to where you are picking later this year – Blackberry leaves resemble poison ivy, and often grow alongside it. There are noticeable differences though – the leaves have a slightly different look, and Blackberries have briers, while Poison Ivy does not.

This is a Blackberry bush growing in the middle of a bunch of Poison Ivy…

 

 

Look for the briers, and note the slight differences in the leaves…

 

 

 

These are both Blackberry bushes…

One final warning I’ll leave you with is to avoid Pokeweed. There are tons of them around the neighborhood, and unless you grew up in the backwoods somewhere around people that really know what to do what to do with that stuff, it is deadly poison. Seriously – Pokeweed can cause nausea, vomiting, cramping, stomach pain, diarrhea, low blood pressure, difficulty controlling urination (incontinence), thirst, and other serious side effects. No matter what you read on the internet, don’t mess with it. There are lots of sites out there that say they will show you how to prepare it and they claim that it’s ok to eat if you cook it right and all that – but it’s crap. Don’t mess with it, and make sure your kids know that the berries are toxic – just a few of them if ingested can be fatal.

With all that said, don’t avoid the trail – enjoy it! Just know what to avoid while walking the trail.

More information on Poison Ivy and similar plants – http://www.poison-ivy.org/poison-ivy-quiz

COMMUNITY PICNIC

Hi Everyone – in light of the current weather reports, the Social Committee and the Board have agreed that postponing the picnic until the 13th of May is the best way to ensure that everyone has a good time.  Please check your calendars and if possible, arrange to join your neighbors between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm on May 13th.

Also – if you have any food restrictions, please let us know.  We plan to have regular hamburgers and hotdogs, as well as beef hotdogs.

Thanks!

CLEANUP DAY

It’s here! Tomorrow is the big day!

I hope everyone is looking forward to getting together tomorrow!

Here’s the plan so far:

  • Meet at the tot-lot at 8:30 am
  • Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
  • Coffee
  • Gloves
  • Trash Bags
  • Group organization

 

The activities planned are as follows:

Trail cleanup –

  • Trash pickup
  • Small branch removal
  • Landscaping review
  • Picnic table location review
  • Exercise equipment review

Cedar Grove Way

  • Trash pickup
  • Flower arrangement / planting
  • Neighborhood Watch sign placement

Nasselle Lane

  • Neighborhood Watch sign placement

Hennington Terrace

  • Construction trash pickup

Please let me know if you plan to attend – I want to have enough coffee and doughnuts for everyone. I have PLENTY of gloves and bags – and a bunch of those pickup things for reaching into the bushes…

And REMEMBER – if you can just make it out for a little while we’d love to see you! The activities are planned from 8:30 am to noon, but if you only have 30 minutes or an hour, come on out to the tot lot and talk to everyone while we’re getting organized! The work will be VERY light – all the heavy work has been done… the trees have been cut up and moved, the underbrush has been cut down, and all that we need to do is make sure it’s a pretty walk! This will be a GREAT opportunity to meet your neighbors and share in making our community a beautiful place to live!

Again – PLEASE let me know if you are coming so I can plan for the coffee and doughnuts! See you tomorrow! You can enter a comment here, or reply on Facebook, or email me directly – wtowles@gmail.com.

Wade