I don’t think words can describe how much we have hated tearing out the trees that our on the west side of our house. It has been a very slow and exhausting process. We started it in the middle of our bathroom renovation, which in retrospect is probably not a very good idea. We started because Arielle’s family was in town and we had the opportunity to let her younger brother Marshall help me out. Our next door even neighbor let me borrow his chain saw and axe!
Here is the scary before picture. That wooden fence is 1 foot away from a chain link fence, and all of those trees are growing in between them, pushing our fence over.
The first step in the process was to remove the tops of all of the trees. We mostly used a chainsaw, but there were certainly other tools as well. Then we had to remove parts of the wooden fence to get access the trunks. Part of the fence fell over, so we had to deal with that too. And by deal with I mean it’s still laying in our yard.
If anyone ever invites you over to their house to help them remove a tree, and that tree happens to be bigger than you are, you should probably just say no. Trees are designed to endure a lot, and their root systems are perfect for foiling every attempt to remove them. Even with the rest of the tree removed the stump can take forever to get out. You have to start by digging out the dirt around the stump and finding the roots you need to remove. Here is the smaller of two tree trunks that we removed. Don’t mind all that crap on the other side of the fence. That’s just our crazy redneck neighbors’ stuff. And the reason the fence MUST go back up.
Over the last month I have spent many nights pickaxing (is that a verb?) at dirt, and then axing at uncovered roots to remove these two trees. It takes as much mental fortitude as physical strength. Since I have little of either of these I found myself continually thinking something I heard recently in a business context: “Seek first to understand”. Sure there isn’t a lot to understand about roots, but this mantra kept me encouraged to find the roots that were holding the stumps in instead of mindlessly hacking at the trunk or dirt with an axe, which would have done no good.
The above pictures is the massive hole that was left when I finally got the second tree trunk out. This one was so stubborn that eventually my neighbor A.C. Green (no not this A.C. Green if you are wondering) helped me pull it out with his CRV. Even though I had basically dug it out before this, I’m not sure I would ever have gotten it out without his help. Now that the trees are out we have to put the fence back up. We were considering doing a new fence, but it was much more expensive than we were expecting. So now we have to repair the fence as best we can. Cause obviously we can’t be forced to look into our neighbors’ yard for much longer (that picture above was just a taste of the amount of junk in their yard.)
In addition to taking out trees over the last few weeks we have been regrading our back yard. We posted pictures of the monsoon that affirmed our decision to regrade it earlier. Here’s a shot showing just how badly it sloped toward the house. It’s mostly flat now and we’ll be putting more time into it as soon as we finish up this crazy bathroom and get the fence back up.
All this time outside has introduced us to a few of our non-human neighbors. Some of them are creepy and crawly (black widow spiders and earwigs) or just plain annoying (our crazy neighbors’ two basset hounds who bark at us incessantly, but luckily aren’t outside all the time) but we thought this garter snake was pretty cute! Maybe it’s cause he’s not poisonous OR loud!