Clearing, grubbing, grading, and planting

Big things happening in our neighborhood. Sometimes a lot happens at once. Our section of the old, mauka Mamalahoa Highway, got repaved several weeks ago. It needed it. We regularly have big trash containers from the transfer station rumbling and bouncing by. Once a pothole develops, it just keeps getting bigger. I think the paving added two to three inches of height to the road, and the “shoulder” or edge of the highway has gotten steeper.

The risk of rolling a vehicle is high. There was a single vehicle accident (driven off the road and stuck down a hill) within days of the paving. I’m hoping some guardrails are going to be installed in certain areas. But things happen when they happen. They’ve filled the edges with some looser gravelly stuff to lessen the difference, but driving on this road requires careful attention. It did before, and it still does.

Now we have a nice, smooth surface, but amusingly wiggly (in places) “temporary” yellow center divider tape, and sometimes sharp road edges. I know of another road that was paved over a year ago, and they still have the temporary yellow tape. Temporary is not permanent, but it’s not defined by an absolute time.

Our neighbor had driveway work done, so heavy equipment was (still is) here. Then another neighbor commissioned the equipment operators for a job. And then another neighbor for a different, small job involving clearing out coffee trees. Work happens so quickly with a compact excavator. Two days. Huge, big, and other trees be gone! I don’t know what our cousins’ ultimate plans are, but what they’re doing reminds me of my surrender fantasy: rip out the coffee and plant grass that you mow with a rideable mower. In the photo below you can see the other grassy plot in the distance, butting into the larger trees. Those owners cleared those acres in August. There was big equipment crunching down big trees for days. I’m wondering what will go in there and when.

Yet another neighbor, across the road, up the hill, cleared acres of their land almost four years ago. There used to be a forest of weed trees (autograph trees, African tulips, schefflera, etc.), and we were used to the green jungle look above us. And then they were all cleared out. Shortly afterward grass appeared. And every few weeks, someone goes by on a very big mower for hours. We could see two houses above that we never used to see, and for a while we felt exposed. But you get used to it. Now there are some bananas planted and some other trees. All that grass in the photo below is new-ish, since they cleared out most of the big trees. It has a nice, cared-for estate appearance to it now, vs. dark, green jungle.

I guess there’s been a slow wave in the ‘hood of clearing large, invasive trees. We’re not going to let those big invasives win! Reclaim the land, allow some sun in for desirable plants. It was a little over two years ago that our other neighbor, the ‘Ulu Co-op, cleared out their big weed trees on our border. One of those brittle, weed trees had already fallen into our land during a big wind storm a few months prior. After they cleared the big guys, they put in solar panels.

Friday I watched the last state-wide Zoom class for the 2024 class of Master Gardeners. Two lectures: Weed Management and Invasive Species. I learned about the topics last year, but I figured it’d be good to see it again. It seems like we spend most of our time dealing with the undesirables than tending and enjoying the desirables. There were many interesting strategies discussed.

I learned a term new for me: grubbing, which was happening next door just this week. Hawaii’s Dept. of Transportation says: Grubbing is defined as removing and disposing of all unwanted vegetative matter from underground, such as stumps, roots, buried logs, and other debris. Debris is defined as unusable or unwanted material produced by clearing and grubbing.  Thereafter you grade (maybe do some filling, leveling or getting a specific slope), then you plant your desirable crop or plants. I’m excited to see what will happen next door!

We’re all back to thinking we need to fence to keep the pesky pigs out, though. We’ve waffled for years because it’s expensive, and it’s not so easy with the terrain, e.g., rock walls, some crumbling, weed trees on the border, and neighbors’ water lines running above ground. One person I know fenced, and it was all fine and dandy for many months, until some pigs got in and were stuck inside the property. What to do, what to do …

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