Sunday, December 30, 2012

More Tree Plantings - Nuttall Oaks

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In my previous post, I detailed my first tree planting at my new house.  It was a huge b&b Nuttall Oak that was planted in the Northwest corner of my yard.  In the picture below that tree is planted where the shed is.  I also wanted a big tree because I wanted to provide screening from my neighbors behind me.

I can't stop at planting one tree, what fun would that be?  Lucky for me, within 10 minutes of my new house are two nurseries.  I stopped by one of them and I scored two more Nuttall oaks.  Better than that is I got them for a steal of a price.  They were 50% off and only cost me $25 per tree.

They aren't the prettiest trees, in fact they are pretty much broom sticks with little to no branching.  However, I can see past that and I know with a little care they will make fine trees.  One of the two was in serious decline and may not make it, but for the price it was worth a shot.

I planted the trees in my South facing side yard and I hope in 5 to 10 years they will provide shade for my house in the afternoon sun during our hot Summers.  In the picture below, the pin marks represent roughly where the trees were planted.  They are pretty tall trees at about 12 feet, but since they were crooked broom sticks, I staked them down to help them grow straight and protect them from the wind.

I look forward to posting about these trees in the years to come and to chart their growth.

 Here is the better looking of the two trees.
My little helper being silly in front of it.

Here is where I planted the two new Nuttall Oaks.
That side yard slopes down toward the street.
The trees are planted on a slight slope.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

First Tree Planting - Nuttall Oak

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In my last blog post, I ended with a picture of the corner of my yard and a big red "X".  Obviously from the subject of this post it is obvious that I planned to plant a tree there, and not just any tree it had to be the perfect tree.

A little background on me and trees:
I am a little bit of a tree snob, there are only certain varieties that I like.  What I look for in a tree is that it has a strong central leader at least the first 6 to 10 ft up the tree.  Then coming off that central leader, I like a nice even branching structure.  I also prefer deciduous trees that have great fall color, mostly red.  At my old house, I planted several red maple varieties because they fit all those characteristics.  However, red maples grow a lot of surface roots and they make landscaping difficult around them.  Because of this I knew I didn't want red maples at my new house.  When we moved into the new house, I had been researching trees for weeks on the web and then it hit me.

At our church there are some of the most beautiful trees that I have ever seen.  They have a wonderful branching structure, strong central leader, beautiful pyramidal to oval shape, just great looking trees.  I asked someone who worked at the church if they knew what kind of trees they were.  After some research, they told me Nuttall Oaks.  I was like, say that again, never heard of it.

Within minutes I was on my phone googling them and within five minutes I knew this was the one.  It has all the characteristics I want and even more.  It turns out this is an under used tree, but has all the great characteristics of so many other oaks without any bad ones.  It has well behaved roots and actually prefers wet sites which was good for me because the area is kind of a gulley.  Here is a nice article about the Nuttall Oak.

Ok, I know that was probably way too much background information for a blog post, but I get pretty passionate about my trees.  I will stop there and suggest you look up the Nuttall Oak, now on to the pics.

So here is the spot with the big red "X" marking it

I purchased a 2.5 inch caliper tree from a local nursery.
I wanted something big for this site because I want it to fill in fast.  
Ball and burlap trees of this size are too big for me to handle.

These two guys were good, they made short work of digging in the hard clay.

Here she is, a big one, over 15 ft tall.

They rolled it into a wheel barrow and had to muscle it up there.

You can see how tall it is compared to the guys.

Here it is all finished, I can't wait to watch it grow.

Another perspective from farther away.

You have to take a picture to commemorate a tree planting.
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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Shed Move Project

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One of the projects I knew I wanted to do when I bought this house was move a wood shed located in the corner of my yard.  I had every intention of paying someone to do it for me as I thought it would be too much for me to handle.  In my typical fashion, I obsessed over the project researching the Internet on moving sheds.  After a few weeks I finally decided to tackle this myself.

The reason to move the shed was mainly because its location was on a slope and the corner of it was very high off the ground.  You could tell the previous owner had jacked it up several times adding wood to level it out.

The shed is a pretty decent wood built one that is 10x10 feet and I use it to store all my landscaping equipment.  From everything I read on the Internet, the way to do it is you slide 4 inch PVC pipes under the shed and roll it to the location that you want it.

So that was my plan, me and a friend to move it one afternoon.  My goal was to move the shed 20 feet out of the corner of the yard and then turn it 90 degrees so the doors faced my house.  It seemed like it would be easy, but I was wrong.  The problem I had was that the skids on my shed were facing the wrong direction to roll the shed.  I really needed to turn it the 90 degrees first to get the skids in the right direction and then roll it.  The problem with that was since it was already on a slope when we started to push it to turn it, the whole thing seemed like it wanted to tip over on us, talk about scary.

Finally we decided to just drag it across the pipes the 20 feet first, and then we would turn it the 90 degrees.  We pushed, clawed, grunted, groaned, and strained our way but we finally got it all done.  It would have been a whole lot easier with a few more people, but hey you work with what you have.  All in all I am happy with the shed's new locale and now I can focus on the next project...more on that in my next post.

So here is the shed's original location in the corner of my yard.  Behind it is a house from the neighborhood behind us.  The house is somewhat screened from the pine trees and that silver maple.  The crap in the yard is the stuff I had stored in it.

Closer view you can see that one corner in a big time gully.

You can see where the previous owner just kept adding wood to level it out.

This was my tool, 4 inch PVC pipe. I had 3 pipes that were 10 feet long.

Here is the shed after I moved it and got it situated, it doesn't like much but it was a ton of manpower getting it moved and turned.

When I reset the concrete blocks on each corner, I poured a bag of gravel in a small hole to help with drainage and settling in the future.  I also used construction adhesive to glue each concrete block together.  My logic here was that it would prevent the blocks from sliding.  I also included a few more blocks in the middle just to give it extra support.  It is also much closer to the ground and since I turned it 90 degrees the high side will be covered by the ramp.

And speaking of the ramp, when I removed it to move the shed I found some bones.  Kind of creepy, I thought it was from a cat, but the eye sockets looked too large to me.  Anyone archaeologists out there that can tell what this was?

After I moved the shed, I cleaned up the gulley and filled it in with 2 cubic yards of fill dirt.  I had to do this with shovel and wheelbarrow.  "X" marks the spot, but what for....more on that in my next post.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Christmas Story - You'll Shoot Your Eye Out

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My favorite Christmas movie of all time is "A Christmas Story."  I have seen it every year since it came out in 1983.  I can quote every line and if you have seen the movie you know one of the best scenes is where Ralphie is forced to put on a bunny suit that his aunt sent as a gift.  

I found a picture of the baby from Halloween and she looks about as happy as he did being dressed like a pink bunny.  I thought it was cute and had to share, but it made me realize just how fast time has went in 2012.  She is already eight months old.

Really?! A pink bunny dad?

Only a few days old here back in April.

Fire in the Sky

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I captured this sunset from my iPhone today while working out in the backyard.  I had to stop what I was doing and just stare at it.  I don't know what it is about my new house, but I have noticed that it is situated just right to see beautiful sunsets like this one.  The sky seems to be so close to us in our backyard, and the land we are on must sit slightly higher than the surrounding area to make it seem so.

Ironically, our house actually sits lower than the surrounding houses, and that was what I was working on.  I was taking some measurements along the fence line in preparation to plant some screening plants.  I turned around while I was measuring and was stopped dead in my tracks.  I am always touched when I see God in nature and this was one of those moments.

In other news, the project list is long on the new house and I am busy busy busy.  I am making a commitment to catch up on my blog and post at least once a week to get everyone up to speed on what I have been doing.  I hope everyone is having a blessed Christmas season and I know we are all looking forward to Spring.