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Backyard Dilemma

I have written several times before about how the backyard trees and bushes around our pool have been described by some as a “Garden of Eden.”  Or by others as a “Garden Paradise.”  It is summer photos like the one above that have really showcased our yard and how it has matured over the nearly 25 years we have lived here since it looked like the photo below not long after putting in our pool.

But on occasion, Mother Nature has thrown us a curve bringing down some of the trees we planted and forcing us to make different landscaping choices.

First when the remains of Hurricane Katrina took down this weeping willow, it has been the one bed which has seemed to have borne the brunt of many of those extreme storms.  Our first solution was to replace the downed tree and bushes with a row of Arborvitae.

These grew up nicely dramatically clearing the fence and providing a wonderful green screen to our backyard.

Then in the winter of 2022, an ice storm toppled the top of our neighbor’s cedar tree onto several of these arborvitaes before eventually landing in the pool.

With such extensive damage on several of these, we decided to take all of them out and start over so they could all grow up the same size.  Due to the size of the remaining stumps, we had to go with less mature and shorter ones than we liked.

Then in the summer of 2022, we had extremely hot weather that in spite of watering them, they began to show signs of heat stress.

Looking online, we discovered that in extremely hot weather, the leaf stoma open in a process known as transpiration which allows moisture to evaporate from the tree thus cooling the plant much like your evaporating sweat cools your skin.  Driving around town, I could see the effects the extreme heat had on killing even very mature arborvitae four to five times the height of our new ones.  When we contacted our tree man to say we would need to replace them again, he told us that with climate change and warmer temperatures in Memphis, he did not think they could survive in our climate zone.  We explored other possible options but when it came time to take action, our tree man was so busy with downed tree work from another devastating spring storm, he did not have the capacity to help us for many weeks and so suggested another landscape company that he had used.

We made an appointment with him and as my wife and I toured our yard with him—our first real close look at our flowerbeds this year—we discovered that the extreme Arctic blast of cold weather we had in December of 2022 had also killed a number of shrubs in both our front and back yards.  Some of these Azaleas I had planted just a few years ago…

…while others in our front yard had been in place for decades.

He thought given that we had a nice stand of existing arborvitae along the same fence that had in fact survived the heat, we should replace the dead ones with new to maintain a consistent look to the yard.

He gave us a quote of what all he could do and considering it very reasonable for the amount of work to be done, we gave him the green light.

The very next week, a crew of four showed up early in the morning and began digging out the dead plants, weeding the beds, planting the new plants, and mulching.  It felt a little like starting all over again but considering the old plants were quite dead, there was not much else we could do.  So, in the front, the previous dead bushes…

…looked like this with new plants of the same variety (Loropetalum).

And our dead azaleas and boxwoods by the front door became a uniform planting of new Encore Azaleas.

In the bed beside the driveway, the mature, but dead Loropetalum…

…were replaced with new.

In the backyard, we replaced the dead azaleas with new of the same variety.

And the dead arborvitaes were once again replaced with vibrant new ones.

The cold December weather also put the final nail in the coffin for our wonderful but distressed fig tree and so it had to be replaced as well, with this young fig tree.

Elsewhere, the weeding they did in the back was a pleasant sight for weed weary eyes.

In the past, this weeding chore alone took me hours and hours over a multitude of days to do myself. And this crew got all of the work done in about nine hours on a single day.  My wife commented this was the best the front and back yard had looked in years (although I’m sure it wasn’t a slam on the quality of work I had done in the past).

Admittedly, it was sad to lose so many of our decades-old shrubs that had matured so nicely.  In a way, our new beds made the home look almost like the yard for a new construction home.  But on the other hand, it was extremely nice to get all of the dead replaced in such a short time.  So, over the years ahead, we can once again witness our yard becoming that paradise to enjoy!

4 thoughts on “Backyard Dilemma Leave a comment

  1. David, you have a beautiful yard. It’s just like anything else in life though. It requires constant maintenance and every so often a major refresh. But the investment is worth it! I am sure you will enjoy the yard and pool very much with such lush surroundings. I also think the ivy on the fence adds to the greenery of the yard. Lastly, sometimes it is worth hiring to get a job done, and you are supporting a local business, too. Happy Spring and Summer!

    • Thanks, Betty looking forward to it. Our granddaughter got in the pool on Friday afternoon and it was a chilly 76 degrees. We made her get out after an hour before her lips turned blue. Happy spring and summer travels to you!

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