Home Sweat Home: Outside updates

I did spend three minutes trying to think of a more clever title but I just couldn’t come up with one. I’m open to suggestions. Also, long post ahead.

Remember when I took you on a bushy tour of our front yard and then a similar tour of our backyard? Well this is so unlike me but I told you I was going to get a few trees removed this summer and I actually followed through on that promise.

We had a tree guy come out and as one would hope, he knew a lot about trees. Erik can wield a chainsaw AND he’s a certified arborist so he taught me a quite a bit on his journey through our jungles.

We’ll start with the front yard. Let me post a Before picture to jog your memory:

He agreed the mammoth pine tree (more specifically, a blue spruce) had to go since it was sitting on top of the roof. Plus it was fairly ugly because it had been carved into over the years to keep it manageable, making it lopsided and goofy looking (which reminds me of how I looked after my breast feeding Amelie started to go awry but that is for another day and another post). A closer look made me realize it was also seriously encroaching our neighbor’s yard as well.

Erik’s guys had at it *claps excitedly*  What a difference, eh?! Unfortunately, removing this tree exposed our neighbor’s secret: they had painters come last summer but they only got the front of the house painted…

I am so excited that this huge tree is gone! Amelie was too; she thought the big trucks and loud chainsaws were fascinating. And so are big rocks!

How about a closeup?

It’s actually quite sunny back there just as I had hoped (although cloud cover had moved in when I went to take these pictures). Removing this dude uncovers ugly side yards for both us and our neighbor but maybe this the encouragement we will need to pretty it up. I’d like to plant flowers and hide our trash/recycle/compost bins back there and eventually Hubs would like a nice paver path leading to the back yard. At least this is a small step towards getting there.

If you scroll back up, you’ll also noticed another tree was taken down in the front. Erik suggested I remove the very tall but still young silver maple on the other side of the driveway. He had some favorites in the front (including an aspen and a linden) so he felt this fast growing maple would clobber those eventually.

Here’s another angle:

Moving right along, remember this beautiful picture of my “grand plans”?

Well, Erik had other suggestions. He recommended keeping the pine tree and only trim it slightly on the side near the house. He said it’s in perfect condition – growing nice and straight. I dislike the mess it produces with its needles and pine cones but I decided to take his advice and leave her be! As you can see, I also wanted to remove the smaller tree (noted on the left above) but Erik said that was a desirable tree – a linden. I’m glad we called in an expert because I seriously don’t know anything.

Instead, he recommended trimming the Big Tree (the one noted with a heart in the above picture) or officially known as a honey locust. I thought it was gorgeous with its fancy lime green leaves but it really isn’t the greatest tree to have since grows so fast and can die early.  There were a few dead branches overhanging the smaller crab apple tree so Erik’s guys fixed it right up.

 Should we move on to the back yard?

A couple big changes happened here as well. Do you remember the right side (next to the wasteland)? Here’s a picture to help you recall.

Erik told me that center tree was an ornamental pear tree, which he likes mucho mucho because it’s beautiful and drought resistant. He told me to keep it and I do what Erik says. He did, however, suggest we remove the silver maple (shown on the left side in the above picture) since it was crowding the pear tree. Here’s a Before picture:

This tree was big! Look at how high!

And, all gone:

Another view:

With that tree removed, the pear tree can breathe easy and enjoy more sun. It also uncovered a few tattered shrubs that might enjoy the extra sunshine as well.

Remember the funny strip of yard that led to our wonky hot tub? And remember that awful dead tree stump?

That came down!


The tree guys found it quite silly because they could literally push it over, it was so rotten. Glad to see it go!

Last but not least, we round the corner to the other side. We had two trees removed here – a river birch that was hounding a pretty red maple (Erik seemed to like this maple variety) and a dead Lombardy poplar.

Let me refresh you on where we started:

And our new plans:

Apparently, according to Erik, the shrub thingy living next to the not-living Lombardy poplar is used for cancer research. How cool is that?

And here are the trees removed:

And another angle:

Removing this trees made me notice a few other problems. I’m not in love with the pine tree that’s still there nor am I a fan of the neighbor’s grape vines overtaking that area.

Our plan is to leave them for the summer and after their harvest is over – I’ll try to do my best to return the grape plants to their side and trim back anything that won’t budge.

All of this tree talk got me understanding our back yard better. Our other neighbors to the back have two huge apple trees that hang over to our side. They drop a ton of fruit into our yard. The squirrels and the birds have a hay day over the apples. Seeing how we spent a few hundred dollars to encourage squirrels NOT to come over to our house to play, I periodically go and gather them up (half eaten and rotten) for the compost bin. Amelie has been helping me and yes, she tried to eat an especially gross one. Yuck! Also, the apple branches are so big and sun hungry that they reach across our yard and can almost touch our deck! I do love the foliage but next summer it might be nice to trim them back. They provide so much shade that the shrubs that line our side of the fence are doing terribly so that’s another reason to tame them. But that is for next summer and when we can get the neighbor’s permission. For now, I’m enjoying this huge step towards some flora sanity.

So how much did all of this tree work cost? We haven’t gotten the official invoice but it’ll be around $1300. It was certainly not a small project. Luckily we’ve been planning this so even though it was costly, I am glad we put a little money into the outside of the house this year. I’d still like to fertilize and get our deck fixed up with new railings, remove the walkway to the hot tub and get some boards re-secured. I imagine that will be spendy undertaking but we’ll see.

You know what else was a spendy undertaking that we didn’t plan for? Our new washer and dryer fiasco…more on that someday.

You made it to the end! Go get yourself an iced coffee as a reward.


7 thoughts on “Home Sweat Home: Outside updates

  1. Oh wow, what a relief this project was! It feels good to make *some* headway in our outdoor renovation. It will be years in the making, but we gotta start somewhere!

  2. I am impressed with the thought put into the yard makeover as well as Eric’s input. The linden tree is my birthday tree. It is exciting to plan and research and look forward to years of pleasant work. ::)) lv mamap

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