North Side Fern Discovery

North Side Fern Discovery

To say the north side of my house was a hot mess is an understatement.  The previous owners planted a bunch of bushes and some ivy along the property line and I honestly barely did any gardening back there last year so the weeds were out of control.  I spent the entire gardening season trying to cut back the tremendous growth on all of my bushes in the front and south side yards.  I am talking about chopping off 2-3 feet of growth in the spring and late summer on the same plants. It was crazy.  Plus some sort of weed fairy blessed our yard with many, many weeds in all of the areas that were completely bare when we moved in so I spent many many hours hoeing and hand pulling weeds.  My son was a baby last year and he hated the sun his first summer so my weeding time was pretty limited to begin with.  Thankfully he has gotten over it and now loves to be outdoors.


I am still having a hard time getting over to the north side to garden because there is no fence over there and the ravine is just too close for comfort with little kids that like to run off and hide.  I finally got around to cutting back the gigantic sword fern that is on our rock wall at the corner of the house and I found some not so fun things going on with our retaining wall.


Almost done cutting the old fronds.


Sword ferns need to be cut back in Late March/Early April although some of the reading I have been doing has said you don’t need to cut them back every year but they look much nicer without the dead ferns hanging around. Some resources say not to cut them back at all or just to cut the old dead fronds out but since I didn’t cut anything off of them last year they were getting a little out of control so I cut them back all the way this year.  It would be pretty difficult to cut just the dead fronds out after new growth occurs so it is best to do it during that magic moment right before the new growth pops up. Sword ferns are native to the Pacific Northwest so I am not doing any other care to them besides the occasional watering in the summer. The little curly brown things are the new growth on this fern in the picture below. The new growth looks kind of like caterpillars.


New growth on a sword fern.


I finally got all of the fern cut back and I realized that several of the concrete blocks along the house are askew.  The soil is pretty moist and I am pretty sure our gutter issues this past winter have caused the blocks to shift a bit.  The base of the fern is actually growing over the side of a block that is completely not in the right position and the weight of the fern is causing it to shift further.



View without the giant fern.
View from the top.


Some of the blocks along the wall are very crooked and slope downward with no soil behind them.



I was pretty upset to see this since we are supposed to be installing a fence along the top of this wall and now we have to wait until we get a landscaper out to see if we can put a better retaining wall in and fix some of the hillside issues.  The soil near the downspout is pretty loose and if they put fence posts in I am afraid the posts will shift in the next storm.



For now I am continuing to clean up the weeds and hopefully this weekend I can work on the ivy covering the pathway.  We are looking for a landscaper to help with the wall and putting our fence on hold until we figure it out.


What kind of surprises have you found while gardening?


Sword Fern Care Resources:

San Francisco Gate

Gardening Know How

NW Plants


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