Kiss My Grass, Part 3: The Trees Have Eyes

Read Part 1: The Beginning

Read Part 2: Speak To The Trees

Picking up where I left off in Part Two, we were on a self-described and self-directed three-year tree plan. The business of removing and trimming trees is not cheap. I didn't want it to take ten years to accomplish. I wanted to move on to other improvements and expenses. Three years worked out for us and kept the expense pretty consistent from year to year. Plus, I wanted to have it done before I started modifying the yard with landscaping or structures. I DO have a plan even if the plan gets changed a bit over time.

Our remaining five trees were in need of some attention. They weren't unhealthy, but our reasoning went beyond aesthetics. It's never a bad idea to remove dead or damaged limbs before they remove themselves. When trees are in close proximity, they can crowd each other and cause parts of the tree to become a dead-zone or cause the tree to lean as it grows. There are many reasons to trim a tree and they applied to us. One reason in particular that I was fond of was letting more direct sunlight reach the grass below.

I didn't really consider how much shade we would lose before we removed the cottonwoods. I don't regret having them removed; it was just never a thought that passed. All of the cottonwoods were on the north side of our property. All of the remaining trees that we kept are on the south side of our property. While the cottonwoods didn't provide a large amount of shade, the remaining trees do, so essentially, I look at our yard as having two different "zones," like it's two different climates. The dry, sunny half and the shady, wet half. Part of the point in trimming the trees was to make it a little less shady and wet. However, it doesn't help that the neighbor to our south is obsessed with covering every square foot of ground with a tree. I wish I was exaggerating. Maybe I am a smidge, but only a smidge.

Once again, we decided to have it done during the winter months (February 2016). We chose the same company that removed our trees the prior two years because of their price, and we figured that the "third time was a charm" as far as damaging anything goes. They were only trimming, after all. They did manage to bend some of our southern neighbor's wire fencing and left pieces of trunks leaning up against their chain link fence. WE didn't do it, the tree company did, but that old, cranky man still holds a grudge to this day. Oh, well. He could have asked the tree company to remedy it, but I guess it didn't matter enough to him—at the time, at least.

Having it done in the winter should have solved the whole "making-ruts-in-the-yard" business, and it did in the backyard. The front yard was a different story and is still a bit uneven in spots. I was a bit surprised by this, but if I recall correctly, that winter didn't get terribly cold. There was plenty of snow cover and the ground was frozen, but not like some years, not like the year it was below zero for three months. The front yard hasn't been a high priority for me yet, so I haven't concerned myself with fixing it. Someday, according to the master plan.

This time around we decided to keep all of the trimmings. My plan was to chip what could be chipped and cut the rest into firewood. In hindsight, I wish I would have had them take the chippable wood. Not only was it a pain to sort but the renting and transporting of the chipper was a pain as well. Was it worth it? Did I save time or money? Definitely no and probably not. Learning experience expediently sorted and filed. However, I am glad we kept the rest: the sticks and logs that make good firewood. As of this writing, I haven't processed all of the wood that we harvested. I have cut and stacked enough of it to last us a while. I've even considered doing some more decorative or functional types of things with the remaining logs, but I make too many plans already, and I'm in no hurry with that area of doing.

This time around with the tree company seemed to be the least eventful. I DID have to keep an eye on them towards the end. Every time it looked like they were finishing up, I would have them continue to take more branches down, to make it look visually pleasing to me. Also, I was going to get my money's worth, and I didn't want to get the trees trimmed again for years to come.

The tree company owner, upon inspection of our tree closest to the street, found a crack. From that tree, they took one more gigantic arm off than they had planned originally, which increased the cost a little. Taking down the arm didn't solve the crack issue completely but helped with extra weight and any twisting-like pressure coming from the now missing arm. The owner offered to come back at a later time and install a bolt to help with support and healing if the crack got worse. Fingers crossed, so far so good.

When the tree company was all done and had left, there were two large piles of trimmings. I worked off and on sorting through them: One pile for logs, one for branches, and one for chipping. It took me months to finish, and as I stated before, I haven't even finished yet. It wasn't until August of last year (2016) that I chipped. If I had the luxury of working solely, tirelessly on that project, sure, it all would have been done much sooner. But, currently, the largest logs (technically the size of trunks) are up off of the ground on pallets, the branches remaining are in a pile out of the way, and the cut wood is stacked in a contraption I built that winter to store them safely and off of the ground. I have since considered building a roof for the firewood holding contraption. Anyway, it took a while, but I'm in a good place with all of that.

So concludes the story of our trees up to the present time. Maybe I'll have more to say about it in this series, but for now, fin.

And here is a video and some pictures.

I don't think the tree was supposed to go that way.

The backyard before we did any work on it. The poplar that fell on its own next to the one we eventually cut down. The backyard cottonwoods before they were cut down.

A totally healthy cottonwood branch deciding it had enough.

A pile of concrete from the hidden sidewalk. Perhaps a portal to another world has been lost forever.

My oldest two kids picking "flowers" in the backyard before we did any work on it.

My daughter helping. There was a lot of sand underneath the mega-leaf pile.

Notice the smoke in the background from the days of almost endless burning. It was actually less than two weeks.

A pile of cottonwood trunks from the backyard. It is over 6 feet high. 
The front yard cottonwoods moments before their demise.

We have A LOT of pictures that I could have posted. I'll be honest, I grabbed some that were easy to get to. I can see myself posting more pictures as the series moves forward. If I would have thought out this series a little more from the beginning, I would have added pictures in the prior two posts as well. Maybe, at some point, I'll update them. C'est la vie.

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