How to Strip a Lawn in One Easy Lesson: Case Study

This case study warns of a few perils that we haven’t actually covered in articles on this site yet, probably because they are so bizarre.

Safety Second, or Even Third!

Who would have thought that removing a tree stump could be so dangerous, being launched across a garden? And a weirder way of lifting a lawn we have yet to come across.

Still, hats off to Ken Lloyd* of North Cornwall for achieving both in one go, although he can’t strictly be held responsible for the flying willow. Or the lawn stripping, come to think of it.

Background to Garden Mayhem

Ken needed to remove a tree stump to make room for a driveway down the side of the house, leading to a new double garage with annex above. The garden has a field to the left and a barn at the bottom, both owned by the same farmer.

“You know the branches on a willow come down and round to the ground, right?” Ken said, “well that meant I could cut most of the branches off quite easily, I mean it was only about ten foot high anyway.

“So once they were out of the way,” he continued, “I lopped the main branches off, then the trunk was plain sailing, that just left me with the stump to get rid of.”

Stump Problem

Ominous really. After a whole Saturday of digging he was nowhere near getting the stump cleared of soil and turf, the root system was so impenetrable. Fortunately, or rather not, from a garden safety point of view as it turned out, help was at hand.

It came from the farmer who had noticed the struggle as he went about his chores. Leaning over the fence he suggested that he pull the stump out with his tractor.

Where There’s a Willow, There’s a Way

“‘I’ll ‘ave it out in no time!’ were his exact words, I think,” Ken laughed. “The farmer wrapped the longest chain I’ve ever seen round the tree stump, ran it across the garden and through the hedge, into the field next door. Then he hitched the tractor up to it and started pulling.”

Nothing happened for what seemed like a good few minutes. The chain looked like it was taut enough to snap and Ken was backing further and further away. Then it all happened in an instant.

“Well, the stump finally let go, didn’t it,” said Ken, “shot right across the garden, I suppose it can’t have been flying but it seemed like it. Straight through the hedge and clouted the back of the tractor. Fair startled the farmer, I reckon”

Surprise Turf War

The thing that shocked both of them was the almost wholesale lifting of the lawn from the garden. The willow root system, which spreads shallow and wide, all came up as well and took most of the lawn with it.

“It was just like a load of zips,” Ken said, “where it didn’t tear straight through the turf it lifted the topsoil and grass with it! To be honest, it’s a good job it did ’cause it must have slowed the stump down. The farmer got a big enough thump on his tractor as it was!”

Final Word on Garden Safety – None!

“The darndest thing,” Ken said, when he’d finished telling the story, “was that he never once said anything that was anything to do with safety at all.”

“Not even something like ‘you’d better stand back a bit!’ Completely blasé about the whole thing, he was. That’s farmers for you, I suppose!”

* name has been changed