Pick Up Sticks

As a youngster growing up in New Jersey, I got to weed trees and pick up branches off the ground. I have no fond memories of picking up sticks. A hard-on-the-back, boring task, it ranked as one of my least favorite jobs.

So imagine my dismay when I saw, after a couple weeks of 20-40 MPH winds here in Kansas, that our yard was littered with sticks. The job is even more hard-on-the-back than I remembered, and it continues to be my least favorite thing to do in the garden. Honestly, I’d rather weed.


I have only myself to blame. I wanted trees. I planted trees. And they have grown large enough to lose branches. Although, to be honest, some of these sticks were pruned, not picked up.

And while we were outside today in this wonderful 50 plus degree weather (it’s February in Kansas, folks), I decided to water. We have had neither rain nor snow for several weeks. It’s time.

Sticks-02-IMG_4744 (2)

I just wrote an article for The Republic’s spring home special section on planting trees, which I think is coming out sometime in March or April. Here’s the bit on watering. “For the first year, trees need about 10 gallons of water every week. This takes some juggling with the weather. If it hasn’t rain or hasn’t rained enough, we use five gallon buckets with a hole punched in the bottom. This guarantees that every tree gets the right amount of water. The gradual flow – it takes about 20 minutes for the bucket to empty – aids absorption. After the first growing season, water every 10 to 14 days as needed.”

The interesting bit is that watering in winter, as long as the daytime temperature is above freezing, won’t hurt the tree even if the nighttime temperature drops below 32 degrees.

Once watering was done, it was back to picking up sticks again. Although here’s a conundrum. This branch is stuck way high up in the tree.


Here’s a shot of the tree to give you a sense of just how high it is.


I keep waiting for the wind to knock it out, but I think it’s tangled in the other branches. Darn. I need a bucket truck to get it down.

Middle of February – two hours of yard work – and I’m exhausted. Better start getting in shape for the spring season.


4 thoughts on “Pick Up Sticks

  1. Had one of those ‘stuck sticks’ high up in the trees until they were cut down! I cheat with the sticks. I throw them under the lilacs and pretend they are mulch when the real purpose is to keep the feral cats from laying under them in the shade of summer. Yeah, that bending is a pain in the ….!

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