Somebody please help - tree death messing up my whole plan!!
Mary Dillon
August 14, 2014 in Design Dilemma
This maple tree (originally planted about 95 yrs ago!) has been dying by bits for several years, and is now thoroughly dead. The back patio has looked progressively worse as it shrank. There's now something just plain UGLY (bleak, dreary, graceless) about how the light now falls -- the very reverse of cozy & inviting. Please, please help me brainstorm potential solutions.

Cut whole thing down and replant in same spot? (Roots everywhere, a challenge to get things to grow -- will I have dig up roots, disrupting other plants?) Cut down to 9ft height and use to hold corner of shade sail or pergola-type covering? Plant new tree a little further from house, maybe where birdbath now is? (Will still need SOMETHING at original tree location.) Move concrete planter/statue, which I originally put there to avoid having to get something to grow in tough spot? Convert this to an opportunity to remove ugly chain-link fence and put more attractive entry to patio, maybe protecting grilling space from weather (not that husband can be persuaded to grill)? And yes, that's a mulberry tree behind the grill -- nobody chooses one, but have lost almost all big original shade trees and although I've planted more and they are growing, I'm not ready to remove mulberry. Variegated pachysandra and climbing hydrangea (shade lovers, naturally!) are finally flourishing (took maybe 6 yrs), and I just redid the adjacent area surrounding the birdbath, so not eager to redo again...but open to suggestions. Would like to preserve view of these areas from upper windows if possible, as opposed to obstructing with solid roof at first-floor level. Have been trying to convert Yard to Garden for about 10 yrs and was just starting to feel pretty good about it!! Oh, and mosquitoes are a big issue in this particular area.

Southwestern Virginia, updated zone 7, back of house faces south and this area is on the eastern side of the back, reasonably well-protected from wind. 1920 foursquare brick with traditional landscaping to match. Newer maple centered at back of house maybe 25ft away will eventually give afternoon shade, but that's still a few years away. I love the diversity of ideas you all are able to generate -- please send some my way!!!
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Mary Dillon
I shd clarify: the dead tree is the one with 3 trunks to the right in the first photo. It had apparently been cut down maybe 40 yrs ago then grew back with 3 trunks. I had intended to make a "decor tree" out of the first one that died, but I guess that plan's out the window!
1 Like   August 14, 2014 at 10:47AM
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hayleydaniels
Contact the ag department of the local university to see if they can help you. We have some Mt. Ash trees that were attacked by some bug last summer. Our neighbor who works for the local city parks department contacted the University of Washington [we're north of Seattle Washington] ag department about it to see what to do.
3 Likes   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 14, 2014 at 10:50AM
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Mary Dillon
Good point -- the maple's a goner but if it died of something other than sheer old age (and I do wonder) it wd be the first priority to stop whatever that is from spreading. Thanks for pointing that out.
0 Likes   August 14, 2014 at 10:53AM
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Jessica
Cut it down, have the stump ground, have the nursery plant new tree so you don't have to fight with roots personally, you may even be able to get a more mature tree so you don't have to wait as long for it to fill in if you have them do the planting.

Trees that come back from the roots of a tree that was cut down are never very healthy and often cause problems due to various weaknesses (like multiple trunks) that are inherent to the way they grow back in.

You need to measure for the height (any overhead wires?) and size of the canopy (since you don't want it to actually reach over your roof and drop leaves into your gutters or branches onto the roof). The roots will extend about the same size as the above ground canopy of a mature tree.

Unless you like bird droppings on your patio, you need to move or remove the mulberry before it gets much bigger. Those trees grow fast and put out fruit in the spring that will bring flocks of birds that poop as fast as they eat the fruit. Having it near a seating or eating area is a bad idea.

Part of what may be killing the trees in that location is the paving of the patio. The water won't soak in through the concrete and it may run off so fast from the concrete that it doesn't soak into the dirt and they aren't getting what they need. Get a soil sample tested by your local extension service to see if there are any nutrients you may need to add before planting a new tree.

Choose a tree that fits your needs. Do you want shade? Flowers? Does it matter if it has fruit or nuts? If it drops fruit or nuts will that be a problem to clean up or interfere with mowing?
10 Likes   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 14, 2014 at 11:00AM
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decoenthusiaste
CLF is the known by appraisers to be the one outdoor item that lowers property values, so take advantage of this opportunity to remove that ugly industrial chain link fence.
6 Likes   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 14, 2014 at 11:05AM
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Mary Dillon
So Jessica, that makes me feel better about the poor tree. Fortunately patio paving (unlike sidewalks) is brick with no mortar (moss grows in between), so I don't think that's a likely part of the problem. The mulberry, alas is 30ft tall - came with house -- and drops mulberries all over the place, although bird poop is not significant, TG, mulberries are bad enough problem, but again, if I take the tree down, whole area will be "naked." Wonder if there's a tree that grows 20' tall, has nice spreading canopy, and doesn't mind being under mulberry (and competing with its roots) -- will call nurseries to investigate.
2 Likes   August 14, 2014 at 11:12AM
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Mary Dillon
decoenthusiaste, the CL really is pretty bad. Luckily I had only 4 sections, 2 on each side to enclose the back yard, each with gate. Gates are gone and 1 section is gone, huge improvement. I hesitate, though, to remove the sections with vines growing on them, because I like the vines and don't know how to preserve them while replacing fencing, plus also, when covered with vines the CL is not such an eyesore. Thoughts?
2 Likes   August 14, 2014 at 11:18AM
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ptreckel
I suggest that you go inline and look for the website of a trained, certified landscape designer or architect. A professional. Look at their portfolio and see what kinds of work that they have done. If you find one whose work you really like, contact them. Most will, for a consultation fee, visit your home, walk through your yard, and give you advice. Point out your problem areas. Ask for their suggestions. Take good notes! The next step is yours. You can ask them to draw up a plan...for a fee. And have them implement it....for a fee. Or, do it yourself in stages. I did this a number of years ago and it was the best investment I ever made. These people are professionals and will give you appropriate advice.
5 Likes   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 14, 2014 at 11:30AM
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Jessica
I couldn't tell from the photo if what I was seeing was walk or patio so glad you cleared that up. Glad you aren't having the problems with birds that we had from the mulberry our neighbor allowed to grow on his side of a mutual fence. The shade from the mulberry will effect the growth of any new tree you plant there. So unless it is an understory tree such as dogwood or redbud that will grow in the shade of another tree anything you plant may grow sideways looking for light. The two maple trees in our back yard show significant sideways growth after the mulberry grew large enough to shade parts of them and after 20 years of growth it is much more noticeable than you might think. Maples grow more slowly than the soft wood of a mulberry. Another reason to consider removing the mulberry is that you will have to constantly contend with saplings growing both from the roots and from the dropped fruits. These are next to impossible to eradicate since even if you pull them up by the roots, if you leave ANY rootlets behind it will regenerate...they are like trying to get rid of crabgrass. I was constantly pulling them and painting any left over bits with poison to keep them from returning.

I wouldn't worry about a "naked" area since if you replant it will fill in and grow faster than you think.
3 Likes   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 14, 2014 at 11:38AM
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Mary Dillon
Jessica, I was in fact thinking of an understory tree and perhaps a dogwood, or perhaps that one that looks like a dogwood but blooms later with 4 petals not 5, and petals are pointed instead of notched -- need to figure out what that is. Bloom wd be nice but isn't essential. Screening from neighbor unfortunately is. Anything I plant may wind up a slow grower bc other growing new maple will shade from full afternoon sun.
0 Likes   August 14, 2014 at 11:46AM
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bluenan
Bars on the window, is that really necessary? I'd be more concerned about that than chain link.
3 Likes   August 14, 2014 at 11:47AM
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Mary Dillon
bluenan, the bars are actually a wrought-iron thing with a fairly attractive pattern, also came with house. Convenient bc I like to keep the kitchen window open. I took another look and concluded that this arrangement looks a lot better from inside than from outside. Do you really think they're that bad?
2 Likes   August 14, 2014 at 11:56AM
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Mary Dillon
ptreckel, yr vote in favor of professional landscape architect is worth considering, but my hesitation is that I'm not sure whether to go with a landscape-only solution or to consider some kind of pergola or awning treatment. Anybody know if landscape architects will address such?
2 Likes   August 14, 2014 at 12:00PM
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Mary Dillon
Sorry, photos above got cropped -- enlarge for better pic.
0 Likes   August 14, 2014 at 12:03PM
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Ann
I didn't read all the comments so hope this still makes sense, but the tree can be cut and the stump ground out. The roots (I'm sure they're everwhere!!!!) will eventually shrink and decay. You can use the same spot for a new tree right away.
1 Like   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 14, 2014 at 12:06PM
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Jessica
Confused because dogwood has 4 petals - one reason it has all the associations with Christ. Not sure which plant you're thinking of with 5 petals. American dogwood has the rounded petals like the first photo.

There is an Asian type of dogwood with pointed petals (second photo). It's too bad they brought it here because it carried a disease that has begun killing off all the native American dogwoods. That's why you hardly see any of them when you drive through Virginia in the spring these days.
2 Likes   August 14, 2014 at 12:10PM
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Mary Dillon
Wow, glad I asked -- it's the Asian one I was thinking of, and I do see them down here in SW VA, but I don't need any diseases, and thank you very much for the steer.
3 Likes   August 14, 2014 at 12:13PM
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Jessica
Here's the info on the Dogwood Anthracnose the fungal disease I mention above: https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/BP/BP-48.html
0 Likes   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 14, 2014 at 12:17PM
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bluenan
A Kousa is the Asian dogwood, they leaf out first and then flower, its the one on the right above. I have one that is extremely hardy.
Sorry, but when I see bars I can only think of one thing, and that is an unsafe neighborhood.
4 Likes   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 14, 2014 at 12:40PM
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ptreckel
The landscape architect that I spoke with did give me advice about structural additions to my property. Stairs, patios, ornamental ironwork, lighting, etc. as well as plant materials and trees. Call and ask!
3 Likes   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 14, 2014 at 1:24PM
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Mary Dillon
WELL THEN, ptreckel, in that case I believe I will just break down and pay those nice folks for their ideas and opinions. It has been fairly straightforward so far to figure out what needed to be done, but with all the sweat, sometimes blood, and even a few tears (especially when the old trees went), that have been involved to date, I guess a few dollars would not be a bad thing to pay!
6 Likes   August 14, 2014 at 2:42PM
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ptreckel
Smart move. Pick their brains. And then YOU decide what you want to do! I managed to execute most of what they suggested, but over a period of 3 years. Broke it down into smaller jobs. Tree removal, patios, perennial plantings, paths. And I love it! Good luck!
3 Likes   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 14, 2014 at 2:50PM
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rustyand
ptreckel.. GREAT advice for Mary I agree wholeheartedly.
3 Likes   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 16, 2014 at 1:36PM
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Nakpunar Akpunar
I cannot say anything about maple tree but I wish you don't cut the mulberry tree! We try to growth 2 of them. They're not known well in the US but we love this tree and live the eat the fruits. We had 40 mature tree in our land. It's great at the edge of the properties.

The fruits have iron it and it's one of the healthiest fruit you can ever eat. We sun dried them and eat with like snack in the winter. Make kinda maple syrup with them. The wood of this tree is the best wood to make music instruments. It's one of the strong tree. You can jump and grab a branch and pull 2-3 yards down and it won't be broken. You have a treasury in your yard.

The ripe fruit is the one fell down the ground. Just get a huge fabric sheet put it on the floor and shake the trunk or branches and the ripe ones will fell down. This fruits is not wash. Whatever fell on the sheet go ahead and eat directly and try to finish it in 5-6 hours the latest. You can even share with your neighbors!
5 Likes   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 17, 2014 at 2:05AM
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gozdetezmen
If there isn't an option for revival, paint it white and decorate with string lights and paper lanterns
1 Like   August 17, 2014 at 5:44AM
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chookchook2
I feel for you, had 3 trees die last year, we suspect too much rain, or maybe burst municipal pipe. We cut them down. Hazardous to leave up. One of those areas is finished, and holds a pretty garden bed and a bench.
1 Like   August 17, 2014 at 5:52AM
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chookchook2
We have a mulberry tree, love it.
0 Likes   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 17, 2014 at 5:54AM
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Lorna Schinske
I love mulberries. They are yummy. I've had mulberry trees and they are no more messy than other berries like Blackberries. You do need to keep them trimmed especially if you net them. We had to net our pie cherry trees and the mulberry trees to protect from the birds.
2 Likes   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 17, 2014 at 6:29AM
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papacdw
Cut the thing down and cover it with pots of ivy or colorful, creeping foliage. You could use a little color. Leave the stumps at various levels for more interest
2 Likes   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 17, 2014 at 7:31AM
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megustamex
The low foliage is probably why you have so many mosquitos. We had scrub trees and low junk foliage lining the back of our yard for years and it was a mosquito haven - we couldn't even get close to it without getting bit up. We finally cut it all down and replaced it with a few nine bark and euonymus bushes and a dogwood and filled the rest of the area with mulch. Mosquito activity has been incredibly reduced. I just came across this article citing the same thing! http://www.newsnet5.com/money/consumer/dont-waste-your-money/how-to-keep-your-yard-mosquito-free-this-summer
5 Likes   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 17, 2014 at 7:48AM
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phoebe3
I have been considering creating a meadow garden with native plants, but they grow to at least 2 feet tall (black eyed susans, false indigo, etc.). Will this create a mosquito haven?
0 Likes   August 17, 2014 at 8:01AM
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ebc3
Some good ideas here. I must say that I agree about the iron bars and chain link fence. Neither one of these are appealing but the bars may be a practical issue. I think that using the stump to hold the corner of a shade sail or structure would look awkward. I really wouldn't ever worry about losing a vine by installing fencing. I don't know what vines you are growing but In my experience they always seem to grow back.
I think you would be better served by having a reputable landscape designer with a good horticultural background take a look at your garden. There is generally a large difference in cost and a designer/landscaper is usually the choice in small scale residential design. A good one will be able to look at your garden with fresh eyes and a thorough understanding of the plants and their requirements.
I wanted to clear up the information about dogwood anthracnose. Our native dogwoods (Cornus florida) are very susceptible to this disease and the designers and landscapers I know (Washington DC area) are no longer planting them. The Kousa dogwood has become the acceptable substitute. It is mostly resistant to the dogwood anthracnose and is a lovely flowering small tree well suited to a patio area. It prefers full sun but does well in moderate shade. The most recent information that I have is that the origin of dogwood anthracnose isn't known.
Some other small patio trees that you might consider are: Sweetbay Magnolia; Ann, Betty, or Jane Magnolia; Bloodgood Japanese Maple; or one of the Crapemyrtle varieties.
Ideally you would have the dead tree cut down and the roots ground out. If that's not possible you can have it cut as flush to the ground as possible. Paint the freshly cut stump with full strength Round Up if there is any life left in it, and you might try a stump remover solution to break it down more quickly. Plant your new tree a little further out and possibly fill that visual space with something evergreen and small. A dwarf Hinoki Cypress might make a nice color and textural contrast.
2 Likes   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 17, 2014 at 9:15AM
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melodireyes
I had a 23 year old live oak in my front yard that spanned the yard from my driveway to my neighbor's. It could be a nuisance, acorns, bag worms, the need to have it pruned, leaves in the gutters but when it was eaten from the inside out by ants and split in two onto my roof and had to be removed, it was like losing a friend. It took me months not to gasp and then feel sad as I walked out my front door and saw the bare lawn. But guess what - I have a great lawn and shrubs and no acorns or leaves in the gutter. I guess this was my one true tree and I've never replaced it. In my back yard I had the same problem - planting shade -loving plants under a tree only to have the tree die, then having hot sun beating down on the deck. So I got a lovely pergola built over the deck with a light and fan in the center. It's airy but comfortable even in the summer - and I live in Houston.
1 Like   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 17, 2014 at 11:35AM
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Margo
What I am dieing to know is why is the bbq in the middle of the bushes?
3 Likes   August 17, 2014 at 11:43AM
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Margo
As far as the window bars, no matter how decorative it looks unfriendly.
1 Like   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 17, 2014 at 11:44AM
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Patty Scott
the odd placement of bbq may be why hubby isn't eager to grill, as mentioned in one of the first posts.
0 Likes   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 17, 2014 at 12:01PM
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halleycomet
Don't feel that bad about the "Premature" death of the maple. I realize that it is the death of the THING that is more heartbreaking--and no longer having the shade etc.

But as far as the tree goes---If this was a true Sugar Maple--95 is a respectable life span esp that far South. And they rot from the inside out so you will THINK you have a healthy tree until a wind storm snaps a branch off and you see the inside. We have 25 year old maples here that lose branches in our mountain top wind storms and I have lost several of the trees themselves this way--but they seem fine losing limbs. Losing the entire trunk--well---

We had a "Historic Tree" in our yard--some sort of eastern maple--that had been used during the Revolution to hang spies. (The house pre-dated the Revolution) When the tree broke in a severe storm and crushed half of our roof my mother had the top part removed and left the stump about 15' high--it was a wonderful gnarly looking thing I LOVED to climb!--and planted lily of the valley's and hostas and tiger lilies at the base---there was shade from other trees on one side. She edged this with old bricks set on the diagonal and it looked great.

I suspect that if your tree was CUT back when then "grew back" either it is NOT a true Sugar Maple or it was actually a sapling that grew in the cavity. However! Sugar (Rock maples; hard maples) generally only have ONE trunk. Other maples such as a "Water Maple" and "Swamp Maples" and alders have a several trunk habit. They also LOOK much older and gnarled and twisted but are really NOT that old at all even tho they can be HUGE. We had one Water Maple the town cut down and we had school kids lay ON TOP of the cut trunk for pictures and we did the tree ring count and the tree--which had been about 4 FEET across and looked about a thousand years old--was only about 75 Years old. They too can rot from the inside.

I miss the mulberries we had in NJ when I was growing up! One was planted right next to the house and we kids would sit on the porch and pick the fruit and eat it and never have to move! Rarely see them now. The REASON we have these mulberries::: The Get Rich Quick people urged people to plant mulberries (From China) to feed SILKWORMS which were going to make people RICH. Silk worms ONLY eat mulberry leaves. This went "Bust" when artificial silk was invented and silk worms proved not to be too hardy here--in ancient China they incubated them IN THEIR CLOTHING.

A far "worse" tree was a wild cherry--we had a HUGE one overhanging a different house and it dropped those nasty seed filled "cherries" onto the roof (can you say clogged gutters? Thought you could!) and onto the slate walkway making it like trying to walk on ball bearings. We had to sweep DAILY and as teenagers we were NOT interested in this! And they STAINED the slate! The birds would either eat the cherries and spit the seeds out or crap the highly colored leavings on the house the walk and us---or they would eat them when the fruit had turned slightly and get drunk. Altho the tree was gorgeous as far as height and the pretty red creeper on it was spectacular in fall---coulda lived with out all those nasty cherries that HUMANS could not eat!

Am I the only one that thinks the wrought iron can be an asset? I think they are called "French--somethings". The chain link--not so much! Wait til fall; cut back the vines; place some sort of sturdy non-chain fence (wood or poly if it doesn't look fake) and the vines should come back in the spring and be happy.
3 Likes   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 17, 2014 at 12:16PM
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chookchook2
I have a lot of wrought iron. It is high maintenance. Aluminium made to look like it doesn't rust. Deteriorates near the sea.
1 Like   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 17, 2014 at 8:45PM
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Mary Dillon
Wow, so much good feedback, I do VERY sincerely thank you all! Tying it all up, I solemnly pledge to (1) eliminate the CLF, by ***, it's about time; (2) get a consultation with a reputable landscape architect re new tree versus pergola, although the more I think about it, the more I like pergola idea, and I shall be Quite Old by the time a new tree grows up and thus appreciate Melodireyes' comment; (3) tidy up the mulberry tree in consideration of mosquitoes, but not cut it down since it does help with privacy from regrettable neighbors (hope they don't read this) and also because I sentimentally remember Grandmother had one and when she ran out of things for me to do she wd send me out there to gather mulberries for pie, which we ate with pleasure. Maybe it's necessary to discuss this with others in order to remember why I have this gut feeling! (thanks for the psychoanalytic assistance). Will try a fabric sheet per Nakpunar and see what I get -- at least I'll get fewer stains on sidewalk and patio! Painting the maple white, or at least decorating it, was an option until the whole thing died, leaving zero shade for either patio or shade-loving plants now flourishing, so cutting stumps to various levels and topping with pots of shade lovers looks like a better option at this point, and that cd be done in conjunction with pergola. If pergola turns out impractical it will have to be a Sweet Bay magnolia; I do admire those(do they like being in the understory?), and either kind of dogwood now begins to sound impractical since I already have traditional dogwoods at back lot line and one is already infected.

The grill is in the middle of the azaleas bc that's how it all came to me. Azaleas are 40 yrs established and make a good show in Spring in a spot where other things are reluctant to grow, while grill is let into natural gas line and patio is just about big enough for table and 4 chairs. It's actually not a problem to get right up to grill. Husband has other excuses: too hot, too cold, too dark, too rainy, too many mosquitoes, just arrived -- I'll have to learn to do it myself, alas! Will follow up megustamex' link about mosquitoes. Somehow they don't bite me much, maybe it's the vitamin B...

I don't know what variety of maple the poor thing was, it was a typical thing for contractors to plant in this area (five here to start, and now all gone) and since I have had to loose so many, I've planted a couple more, choosing ones vaunted for beautiful fall foliage; "Autumn Blaze" "Flame" whatever. They are growing well. Also five crape myrtles, four camellias, two pyracanthas, and a pear tree (sorry no partridge yet, but yes I did have it thinned). I hope you all are laughing with me and not at me, and thank you very much again!
0 Likes   August 18, 2014 at 4:42PM
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Susan Potts
I feel your pain. Several storms and an asian beetle infestation took out all the mature trees in our yard. Those trees had to be chipped. I planted one strategically placed maple for shade and converted my garden to plants who will be happy with more sun for now. I sold the shade plants in order to fund this change. I put in one 6ft and two 7ft 4x4's and attached a shade sail to them to provide shade for where we like to sit. It also provides shade for some of the plants so I didn't need to dig them up. I've had a 50 gal pond for years but this change has brought frogs to it. Nice to listen to in the evenings. I have to tell you the maple has been there for 3 years and has grown like crazy because there is no competition for light and water. I would suggest putting a fountain where your maple grew. The noise is relaxing and the mist helps cool the area. You can surround it with low bushy flowers to hide the stump, hose and cord. In about 2 years you should be able to cut down the mulberry which will encourage the maple to grow a little faster. Or cut it down and cover the fence by planting a bush(es) like a verbinum. As it grows just trim it a little here in there for better shape. If you want green all year or to give a more formal feel you could plant arborvitaes instead to hide the fence. Whats nice about them is you can get fairly tall ones at a decent price. Especially at the end of summer. What ever you do work is going to be involved, unfortunately. Good luck to you. PS. - You could keep the maple and attach bird houses to it. Just a thought.
1 Like   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 18, 2014 at 4:56PM
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PRO
Trilliums Landscaping & Horticulture
Have you thought of not replanting the tree and embracing some native sun loving perennials & flowering shrubs?
0 Likes   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 19, 2014 at 9:16PM
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PRO
Revolutionary Gardens
I think your best advice has been to involve a design professional. I find a lot of the time that when I'm meeting with someone who has lost an "anchor" tree like you have, and the whole landscape has evolved around it, clients see an opportunity to make a drastic change. You don't like the way the light hits the seating area there? Well... does the seating area still need to be there? Can it be over here? Sometimes as you converse with someone with ideas, new possibilities reveal themselves to you. Have fun with it!
0 Likes   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 20, 2014 at 7:02AM
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Mary Dillon
Trillums, I have several azaleas in that area and cd do more/other, but that doesn't address the basic problem of no shade on patio or of wierdly bleak appearance of this spot (light falling badly from noon onward). I know that sounds strange, but I can't think how else to express it! It's distressing! Due to improvements elsewhere, this is now the worst spot. "No feng shui!"

Maybe the basic problem is that it just no longer feels properly "enclosed." I have long thought of getting rid of the CLFence and getting a more attractive entryway to the patio from the side of the house...
0 Likes   August 20, 2014 at 7:49AM
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Mary Dillon
And of course I see some "obvious" things to do -- put a pretty plant on the table, hang something decorative on the wall above the bench, maybe stain the CC walkway around which the brick patio was built or do something more radical to it...trim the azaleas properly...but such ideas wd be a lot more relevant AFTER the basic problem is solved! One rather limiting factor is that surrounding the circular brick patio on two sides is a low (18"?) stone retaining wall which is fairly attractive and does a good job of raising the surrounding planting beds just a bit... so there's not space there for much besides table and 4 chairs. The bed where the planter is slopes upward toward the fence, so that's happy, but it's incredibly difficult to get anything to grow there...
0 Likes   August 20, 2014 at 8:03AM
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ptreckel
Again, Mary Dillion, this is where someone with fresh eyes will provide you with alternatives for the space. For example, I see a wonderful opportunity for a white painted wooden arbor in place of the CLF, ushering people into your patio area. The tree's demise really is an opportunity to envision the entire space so that it is more useable for you and your family. And regarding the grate on the window....apparently (from the most recent photos posted) it is the only one on your house? Clearly it is not for security. Its removal would enhance the area. We can't wait to see what you decide to do with your "new" back yard! Keep us posted!
2 Likes   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 20, 2014 at 8:27AM
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PRO
Trilliums Landscaping & Horticulture
Hi Mary
How about replacing the clf with something that's more your style, building a beautiful gate into it, putting trellis on the wall and building an arbor that extends out to the outside edge of the walk/patio and planting with fragrant vines that will grow over the top and give you a sense of enclosure?
0 Likes   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 20, 2014 at 3:06PM
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Mary Dillon
Yes, that's about what I'm thinking. Thanks for these comments and ideas, all!
0 Likes   August 20, 2014 at 5:22PM
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0 Likes   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 21, 2014 at 1:11PM
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Mary Dillon
So, kind friends, my landscape-architect friend is coming for Labor Day, but I'm still brainstorming, so what do you think of this? (1) yes replace CLFence w/ white lattice and nice trellis entry, but mainly (2) move big planter with statue to side under mulberry, balancing the Mahonia on the right (toughest plant they cd sell me at my request), and make rustic stepping-stone pathway up to very top near fence, then pave that little area and put bench or 2 ice-cream-parlor-sized chairs and table? Balance in front of right hand side Mahonia by cutting maple down to graduating heights from path, with plants on top of each trunk, or maybe plants on two and interesting topiary frame currently on top of too-tall trunk; (3) stick 3 potted plants, maybe all in one planter (have silver one on hand decorated with green leaves & little red berries) on top of grill for when not in use (usually!). (4) Consider same white lattice fence ()slightly higher than current) to replace current natural lattice fence in back of new furniture OR replace natural lattice with garden wall in interesting color such as I've been seeing on this site, maybe with short lattice strip across top. (5) I'll go out this weekend and get a patio table umbrella to see if it helps. If not, I expect I'll be stuck paying at least $5K for a pergola. I plan to be in this house for the duration, but for the sake of resale value, I wonder wd it be worthwhile to design pergola so that it's basically just the underpinnings of a roof, in case the next owner wants to cover it.

Comments, anyone?
0 Likes   August 22, 2014 at 1:01PM
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lindadjones
We used a landscape architect (LA) when we moved into our house 27 years ago. (Our bank officer had used this LA and told us to go look at his renovated back yard designed by LA which was beautiful.) My husband hit the roof at the price. BUT I had the LA draw up the plans and then put it out for bid and got references on the landscapers. Price fluctuations were HUGE. Took best bid from someone who had great references saving a ton. We ended up with a gorgeous yard that we did all at one time, but the architect had suggestions for how we could do it piecemeal over time using this overall plan. My dad came over and said, "Looks nice, but you're going to pull half of this out in 5 years b/c it'll be so overgrown." Never happened. With a competent professional and total plan, those things are avoided. It matured and just got more beautiful over time. Have to say that in the past 40 years living in 3 different homes (and 2 vacation homes), the times that I've used experts to help me plan--lighting, paint, landscape, design--I've been happier for longer. My own efforts leave me with mistakes and regrets. If I do it over a few times, I eventually get it right. Expert opinions avoid those problems so it's correct the first time.
3 Likes   Thanked by Mary Dillon    August 25, 2014 at 8:13AM
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Mary Dillon
Linda, I really appreciate yr comment. It is heartening that mature plants did not look "overgrown" in the long run -- that's what I'm shooting for, in the interest of a lower-maintenance garden once it's all "done" (I sort of hope that eventually happens!). I have in the past created problems for myself by taking advice from people at even good nurseries, who sold me things that just plain got TOO BIG, and I fear the nursery people tend to push fad-ish plants, and of course pay little attention to hardscaping, since that's not what they're all about. So I'm looking forward to input from LAs, and thanks again!
0 Likes   August 25, 2014 at 5:24PM
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