Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Choosing a shade tree is a big decision. I had to consider, climate, size when full grown, leaf size, does it produce too much trash, bug resistance etc.

For example, I loved the shade my cottonwoods gave, but they dropped cottony seeds and sticky sap in the spring, twigs, piles of big leaves that had to be shredded before they could be mulched and limbs that broke off easily. Once topped, they rotted down the center.

After researching and asking experts for advice, I chose an autumn purple ash that is supposed to adapt to most soils including clay, is easy to grow, drought tolerant, diseases are not usually serious enough to kill them, long lasting fall colors, medium-sized leaves, grows to 70 feet tall, and is a relatively fast grower, up to two feet a year. It is exclusively male so it is seedless and is hardy to zone 3. Deer do not particularly care for this plant and will usually leave it alone. The canopy is relatively dense and medium in texture, and the leaves drop nearly all at once; perfect for one fall cleanup. They require little pruning to develop well. The biggest threat are ash borers.

After having two holed dug, I had Skyview Nursery deliver and plant two of them. Time will tell if I made the best decision . . .

Shade in the making.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Weeds, Weeds & More Weeds

Can you say, "Weeds!"
 To the east of my house between the curb and the street was a large patch of weeds. Spraying with weed killer just seemed to make them healthier. For several years, I had asked several contractors for bids to replace the dirt with gravel to help keep the weeds from taking over, but none ever got around to making bids. When the man came to grind out the tree stumps, I ask him if he knew of someone who could bring in gravel, and he said he could do it.

I had the weeds sprayed again! He excavated about 4 inches of dirt and weeds and replaced most of it with road base then topped it off with a couple of inches of pea gravel. What a difference! I will still have to spray it in spots from time to time, but I can at least stay on top of them.

Nice and clean with gravel!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Naked Victorian

Ouch. I'm naked.

With the cotton wood trees gone, my old Victorian house looks naked. The stumps will be gone next week along with the Charley Brown pine tree that never grew much because it had been planted in their shade and it was a rutting tree for mule deer. In the fall during the rut or breeding season, bucks assert themselves by backing at a tree and rubbing the velvet from their antlers. This activity can be territorial, and bucks return to a tree they like. My little pine didn’t stand a chance!

I have chosen two new shade trees that I plan to have planted when the stumps are gone and holes take their place. Choosing shade trees was more of a challenge that I first thought it would be, but they will not be cotton woods or Siberian elms!
Charley Brown's tree.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

January 2012 - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

This year started out good with a mild winter, yet occasional snow for moisture, but it turned bad when I found my two 100-year old cottonwood trees in the front yard had to go.

82-year old Floyd, using a chain saw with one hand.

Alas, I called in Floyd Bishop, a tree expert to diagnose them and after inspecting them, he advised me to have them cut down. Lightening had hit the one on the west sometime in the past. It had rotted down the middle to the ground. When we kicked the trunk it sounded hollow. I hoped to save the one on the east, but it had a crack from the crotch to the ground. One strong wind could have toppled half of it onto my house.

I grieved and grieved to lose them and the old rope swing that hung from a lower branch and that my grandchildren loved. With those trees gone, I knew my front yard would be bare and ugly.

Floyd Bishop is an amazing tree topper, felling trees since he in his thirties. He is 82 years old, has one hand missing (he lost it in a farm accident as a young man) and can out work most people half his age. On other’s recommendations, I hired him. WOW!!!

Fell right on the mark!

In a couple of weeks the trees were gone. Floyd waited until I was at home so I could watch the biggest one fall. He closed the street in front of my house and started to cut through the trunk. He had previously removed many of the limbs. After he hollered a warning, the tree fell exactly where he said it would. It was over 100 feet tall, and the trunk was about 6.5 feet across. 

Notice the rot in in the center of the trunk.