Lurker graduating to poster.

Lurker graduating to poster.

Hi! I've been reading for a while, but really felt silly and shy about posting. I live in the Portland area, and we've just bought our first house. I feel like a novice when it comes to actually gardening, but having studied horticulture in high school I feel like I have a bunch of useless knowledge running around. At one time someone who enjoyed gardening lived here. There's 17? rose bushes, raspberries, grapes, and several trees that look like they may be fruit trees. After years of renters though, things are pretty shabby, things are overgrown, the soil is questionable. ( apparently 7 german shepherds lived here.. humm) There's an Earth Machine compost system already set up. (we uh, had to empty it though, the renters had filled with plastic bags full of uh, dog refuse) I plan on doing a No-Dig Garden this year. I'm a little paranoid because the spot I'm putting the garden used to house an above ground pools.. and what with chemicals and nearly a million dogs... well.... I thought I'd buildup some of our own soil for the first year or two. I'm getting the hang of gardening, composting and lawn care, but it's an uphill battle. The lawn has been severely damaged.. big dog holes and such. Over time we'll be expanding beds around the yard to lessen the amount of lawn, but for now we have two very small children and a nice place for them to run and play is important to me. A few questions: Care and handling of Japanese maple? I did a little reading (I havent located my Western Garden Book yet after the move..) and the web sites I saw pretty much said not to do anything to it... but this one is SERIOUSLY overgrown, covered in moss, and last falls leaves are still matted in there. Lots and lots of dead branches just tangled up with live. I spent an hour or so yesterday clearing out some of the dead wood and trying to clean it up in there, but it seems to defy all of my pruning knowledge. trying to remove narrow crotches and branches that rub nearly removes ALL the branches. It's looking better and dare I say even healthier after the pruning so far.. but.. ugh. Anyone have any great resources on these babies? Any tips for growing blueberries? I've planted two separate varieties (I hear this helps them fruit more productively?) and am simply hoping for the best. Maybe I'll luck out and they'll be great and low maintenance. How about pruning for grapes? What do you all do with your yard debris? my compost-er cant handle all of this pruning and mowing right now. I stupidly told my husband we will not need curbside yard debris pickup, but now I'm kicking myself for that. I'd love to purchase a chipper at some point and use the chips for much or add ins for compost, but right now we're overwhelmed with debris. I've been constantly surprised with watching what comes up in this yard... crocuses, daffodils, tulips! and its only March. Cant wait to see what the roses look like.. Now, how to figure out how to cram all the plants I've been lusting over for years into this yard.. (nice to meet you all)
Update on my progress

Update on my progress

Hosta Damage

Hosta Damage

How’d he get aaalll the way over there?

How’d he get aaalll the way over there?

.. my bedroom!

.. my bedroom!

i just moved into my new dorm/apartment room

i just moved into my new dorm/apartment room

Redid my room

Redid my room