Front Yard Landscape Renovation

Welcome to the 231st Metamorphosis Monday!

Before I dive into this week’s Met Monday, just wanted to take a second to answer a question I’ve been getting about the BNOTP newsletter, Postcards from the Porch. I haven’t sent one out since Max passed because I just didn’t have the energy to create blog posts and put together the newsletter, too. I will be starting it back up soon though, most likely this next weekend. Thanks for understanding the temporary hiatus.

Metamorphosis Monday:

For this Met Monday I thought I’d share the progress the tree guys have made so far.  I always forget that usually during any kind of renovation, things have to get a lot uglier before they get pretty.  We are definitely in the ugly stage!

When you last saw the front yard on Friday, it looked like this and the plan was to remove the River Birch and Holly along with the seven Leyland Cypress down the side yard.  Those things were done on Friday.

House Hidden and Overwhelmed by Trees and Shrubs


House Hidden and Overwhelmed by Trees and Shrubs 1

AFTER: Do you see the changes?

Front Yard Landscape Renovation

The humongous holly on the corner is gone.  You can now see both of the windows in the living room downstairs and both windows in the bedroom upstairs.  Those rooms are also much brighter inside without the holly blocking out so much light.

Front Yard Landscape Renovation
You may not have noticed the River Birch is gone because right behind it on the other side of the walkway is a very large magnolia.  If you look closely at the picture below, you’ll see the stump where the birch tree used to be. My tree guy will be grinding down all the stumps when he comes back this week.

Front Yard Landscape Makeover 5

You can see the birch stump a bit better in this photo below.

Front Yard Renovation 2

In Friday’s post I shared this picture below. It’s the view a visitor would have seen when visiting my home.  A lot of “ducking of foliage” would have been needed to navigate the walkway leading to the front door due to the aggressive River Birch.

Brick Walkway Hidden by River Birch

AFTER:  There’s an actual walkway under there!  YAY!  I’m not sure what that sunny yellow orb is on the right. Looks kind of strange, doesn’t it?

Brick Walkway After_wm

Looking back at the front of the house, see the arrow pointing to the Debutante Camellia?  As much as I hate to do it, I’m thinking of having it removed and planting another camellia somewhere else in the yard. I love my camellia but it’s covering up way too much of the front of the house and is encroaching on a window in the dining room.  I cut it back once before but in no time it was really big again.  I may try cutting it back one more time but that’s just delaying the inevitable, I’m afraid.  It just grows too large to be a foundation plant.

I also need to have the magnolia carefully pruned (not limbed up) by someone who knows the correct way to do that.  I’d like to have both dormers in the upstairs family room visible again.  I didn’t plant the magnolia, it was here when we moved in.  I do love it, though, so it has to stay. I use the leaves at Christmastime in my decorating, too.

Camellia in Front Yard Renovation Makeover

Remember the dark area on the right side of the house from Friday’s post?

House Hidden and Overwhelmed by Trees and Shrubs 2

This is how the side yard looked most of the time due to the large Leyland Cypresses planted along the edge of the property.

Side Yard

Here’s how it looks now. Very different! The stumps will be ground out this week.

Removing Leyland Cypress 4

Another view of the side yard…no longer the dark dungeon it was before.

Removing Leyland Cypress 3

In this view of the side yard, you can see one of the decks and the edge of the screen porch in back. I want to plant a couple of fast growing trees back again in the back yard to recreate the privacy I had for the porch and decks from the house next door.  The Leyland Cypress trees were in terrible shape so they had to go, but I definitely want to replace the three that were in back with two new trees.

Removing Leyland Cypress 2

I’ve decided to have the large oak removed.  It was a tough decision but your comments on Friday’s post reiterated what I was thinking.  I’m tired of worrying about it falling on the house during a tornado or big storm. I’m tired of the gazillion, million acorns it drops that decay in the grass and kill it. I’m tired of digging millions of oak trees out of the islands and flower beds each year. I’m tired of it shading out too much of the yard and house. And I’m tired of  it killing everything I’ve tried to grow near it, including grass. It’s a bit like having a giant telephone pole in your front yard, the only part you ever see is the big, gray trunk.

Two Oak Trees_wm

There’s a second large oak in the front yard but it’s off to the side of the house in a much better and less dangerous position.  That one is definitely staying.

Oak Tree_wm

Once all the trees are gone, it will be time to recreate the islands and the flower beds, then sod the yard and plant some foundation shrubs. I’ll have the Waterfall Japanese Maple (left of the front door) moved in the fall and foundation plantings will go in on that side, too.  This is really going to be a full-scale makeover and I’m excited to get it done!

Landscaping the Front Yard

Looking forward to the Before and Afters posted for this Metamorphosis Monday!


Metamorphosis Monday:

One on sidebar

If you are participating in Metamorphosis Monday you will need to link up the “permalink” to your MM post and not your general blog address. To get your permalink, click on your post name, then just copy and paste the address that shows up in the address bar at the top of your blog, into the “url” box for InLinkz.

In order to link up, you’ll need to include a link in your MM post back to the party so the other participants will have an opportunity to receive visits from your wonderful blog readers.

Please observe these few rules:

Only link up Before and After posts that are home, gardening, crafting, painting, sewing, cooking, DIY related.

Do not link up if you’re doing so to promote a website or product.

Do not link up a post that was just linked last week since a lot of readers will have already seen that post.

Do not type in ALL CAPS. It spreads the links waaaay out.

Let’s try something fun today! Please visit the person who linked before you and after you…that way everyone will get some visits.

Welcome! Thanks for coming to the party!

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  1. Wow, Susan,
    did you know you have neighbors?! (Just kidding!) LOL
    But, oh man, what a difference! I already love it!
    Susan, I am glad you’ve decided that big oak has to be removed!
    Sad but necessary, plus think of all the time you’ll gain once it’s gone, for all the things you really like to do! Not bad, huh? πŸ™‚
    ~Hugs to you~

  2. Mary from Virginia says

    I know you feel you can exhale with all the darkness gone! I am so GLAD you are getting the oak tree taken down. I know you will be happy. I certainly was when ours was removed.

    Are you sharing what you will be planting, or is that for another post? Sorry to be so impatient! I am truly excited for you.

  3. So hard to take down trees but your home looks much safer now. What a beautiful neighborhood.

  4. Just love how the house appeared so majestically from behind the trees….great decision to removed the trees for aesthetic purposes and safety ones too!…..Thanks for hosting Susan!

  5. I love it and can’t wait to see the “afters”!! Your house is so lovely, IT needs to be the center of attention on the lot – not the trees! πŸ˜‰

  6. oooo, link is missing. I’ll check back later. πŸ™‚

  7. Your yard is looking great! Thanks for hosting! Life to the full! Melissa

  8. Looks amazing.

    Silver’s Reviews

  9. Removing these mature trees and bushes makes a HUGE difference to the look of the front and of the side of your house – I know it is a big undertaking, but worthwhile. We have a large oak in the backyard, fortunately it is far from the house and from any structure – with the weather the way it has been in Georgia, we do have to take precautions. This is exciting for you – a wonderful change and many more to come. I appreciate you hosting and hope you have a blessed week,

  10. You have really entered into a huge project. I can’t wait to see the after photos – the ultimate metamorphous. I can’t believe how huge those trees are. I know you a regretting having to cut them down, but it is the right thing to do.

    Thank you so much for letting me join in your party. Hope you have a wonderful holiday. Personally, I am just trying to stay cool. We are having a heatwave here.

  11. I’ve been so interested to follow your relandscaping. I’ve been doing some also, on a tiny scale. It’s given my little city lot a new lease on life to have a big messy tree removed. I know you’ll enjoy your new opened-up yard. Have fun!

  12. Susan, you are having major work done, but you will enjoy having all that extra light in your rooms! We had a large water oak in the front yard of our previous home, and I always used to worry about it coming down during a hurricane. So good to get rid of anything worrisome!

  13. It’s scary making yard decisions, but things can get oversized in time~living in the South, big trees near the house are dangerous, once you get everything greened up and replanted, you are going to be so happy! Plus your house should be a lot brighter I would think~good luck! Don’t you wish it wasn’t sooooo expensive?

  14. Your landscape makeover is going to be amazing! I can’t wait to see the finished product. As an avid gardener this is the kind of stuff I love to read about. Vikki in VA

  15. What a huge undertaking the transformation of the yard will be, but I have no doubt it will be a showpiece when you are through with it. Thanks for the party once again!

  16. Susan,
    No longer claustrophobic! What a beautiful home you have!! Already a huge improvement!!! Can’t wait to see your transformation.

  17. Susan, your yard makeover is going to be lovely! We had to do the same thing several years ago. We took each section in phases and it does look better now. Your home is lovely! Thank you for hosting another great link party! Happy Fourth of July!

  18. Wow, what a difference! We just did some landscaping in the backyard…it is amazing how different the same property looks. Your house is gorgeous, btw!

  19. Such a transformation…your home looks huge now and so bright. I know how you feel about constantly picking up “droppings” from trees….I used to have a 50 year old apple tree in our backyard that had to be sprayed 4 times a year or it would drop rotted apples…hundreds of rotted apples! then the wasps and bees would come to enjoy the fruit. Not fun. I can’t wait to keep watching what happens next, the sunlight coming through now is wonderful. Has it changed the light inside the house?, I’d be willing to bet it has…:-)

    • That would be a pain…def wouldn’t like the wasps and bees. It has changed the light in the living room (the room I want to make a library) and in the master bedroom upstairs. Also, there’s more light in the paneled family room but I’m not that thrilled about that. I liked that room staying dark and cozy, it suited the room, so I’ve titled the shutters so they block much of the light. That’s the big window on the end of the house in one of the pics. I think removing the large oak out front will let even more light into the rooms on the front which I definitely will like. They don’t feel dark now but I do love light for those spaces. Thanks, Christine…great question!

  20. ~Susan~
    WOW, that is really letting in the sunshine ! I’m sure the makeover will be wonderful, and really make your lovely home just pop !!
    My brother lived in the woods like 13 acres all around him, and I always worried those huge old trees would fall someday on his house, but thank the Lord never did!
    Have a super day!

  21. Hi Susan,

    I’m really sorry to hear that you are going to take down the large, beautiful oak tree in the front yard. Until very recetnly, I lived on a heavily wooded lot with many very large oak trees. Each fall, between Halloween and Christmas, I spent every weekend sweeping and hauling out leaves and acorns. And with each load, I reminded myself of how much I loved my trees and how much comfort they provided in the heat of the summer. There wasn’t a weekend in the summer that I could not enjoy my deck because of the shade of those trees. One of my oak trees was about a foot from the deck. One stormy day, I counted the number of large hardwoods that could possibly hit the house. I stopped counting at 14. I never took one of those trees out. I lived there for 25 years and not one ever hit my house, even when Hurricane Opal blew through Gwinnett County as a Cat 1. My feeling is that most of the scare over large trees is paranoia. While it is horrific when trees fall on houses, when you consider the numbers, I feel it is a relatively uncommon event. Have you considered the increase in your utility bills with the removal of the tree? The shade trees provide can be an amazing budget extender during the heat of our Georgia summers. Not to mention the cost of having trees like this removed. I didn’t reply to Friday’s post due to time, but I had to post today and voice my support of the benefits of large trees. Love your blog, Valerie

    • That tree is on the north and so it really doesn’t do that much for shade. The thing that dramatically cut my utility bills was when I added the screened porch on the south side of the house. That made a huge difference since the sun used to beat down back there and on the west end. It just does nothing for the property, blocks the view of the house, drops a million acorns that are like marbles to walk on. They are also jarring to hear falling on the metal roof on the porch when they are raining down. I’ve resisted removing it for years but I do feel it’s time for it to go. Seeing it in the photographs has just reinforced that decision. It really does nothing for the house. I’m leaving the majority of the trees in back, just may take down a couple of scrawny ones that are crowding out the pretty ones back there.
      Thanks for your input Valerie, this hasn’t been an easy decision. I’ve gotten several quotes so I do know it won’t be inexpensive but it will def make my life much easier and I can finally enjoy my yard again.

  22. Susan, the improvements you have made so far have made such a difference in the appearance of your home. It’s a beautiful house, and now, you, and everyone else viewing it will be able to enjoy it’s beauty! In one photo, your gutters look so clean- like there isn’t anything hanging or sticking out of them. How do you do that, with all of the trees you have had? I am asking, because we are really struggling with tree debris in our gutters. My husband cleans them now and then, but they have to be done much more often than that. Part of our house is one story, and part of it is two stories, so whoever cleans them out is standing on an extension ladder- and that isn’t the most pleasant thing in the world. There were actually robins in them this morning, strewing debris all over my front walk, because they were looking for breakfast in there!

    • Thanks so much, Donna! About the gutters, many years ago, probably 15 now, I had the old gutters replaced with Leaf Guard gutters. I LOVE them! They really do work. In the years that I’ve had them, I’ve only had one gutter on the back of the house get clogged, can’t remember now what caused it. Leaf Guard was out the next day and fixed it. They have a lifetime warranty so they come out at no charge if there’s a problem or something gets clogged. I just couldn’t deal with having to have the gutters cleaned out every year. They really needed it twice a year. So the gutters have paid for themselves over the years by not having to hire someone to do that twice a year, plus I really do like the way they look. They kind of give the house a finished look along the roof line. I do encourage you to think of getting them because it can be so dangerous on those extension ladders. It’s just not worth the risk of a permanent or life threatening injury. I feel your pain because I used to have to deal with that before I got my Leaf Guard gutters. I also liked the Leaf Guard ones better than “another” company I called for a quote. The other company was really rude and wouldn’t schedule an appointment unless my husband was present, too. Isn’t that ridiculous? They lost my job. I love the Leaf Guard gutters so much, when I added on the screened porch, I had them come out and install the LG gutters on it, too.

      • Thank you for answering, Susan. I was not sure if those special gutters with guards worked, now I know which one to look into. I am in Ohio, so I am sure there are installers here for that brand.
        The funny thing about landscaping is- you make a big improvement, and we are prone to thinking: Gee, everthing is done to my liking, and it will stay that way. Then everything starts growing, and if you are not on top of it with a trimming schedule, it’s no time before your plantings are terribly overgrown. We have a big yard with lots of boxwood hedges surrounding a knot type garden around a large round fishpond. There are boxwood hedges bordering our driveway, as well as hollies and other things that require pruning about three times a year. We try our best to keep up with it, but sometimes it just isn’t possible. Example: I just posted a question on the gardenweb shrub forum, asking what to do with my 10 foot overgrown american boxwood plants., which have been neglected because I wasn’t sure how to prune them. I pity homeowners who live in climates where plantings actively grow for more months than they do here. At least we have a reprieve when the weather gets cold. Things stop growing.
        Can’t wait to see the transformation of your home after everything is done. It will be lovely!

        • I know. I was very naive when we purchased this home. I thought you planted stuff and you were done except for some occasional trimming. Of course, that is so not the case. I’ve read that most homeowners will need to replace all their shrubs every 15-18 years. Apparently, you can only trim on them for so long before they start to get way too big or just look bad. Home ownership is a never ending maintenance job, isn’t it? I just looked up the Leaf Guard website, here’s a link: If they don’t have an office in OH, I wonder if they know who to refer you to. I notice they have the “Good Housekeeping” symbol so hopefully that means they are a nationwide company.

  23. Sandi Lee says

    Your yard and home look so much more appealing with all the extra foliage gone. I think I would consider taking the big oak in front of the house down too as it blocks the view of your house. Maybe that’s just in the photo and doesn’t happen real time but something to think about before your guys are gone. There used to be a huge tree at the front of my house and it was taken down before I bought the house. I sure am glad it’s not there. It took the ground down stump years to finally get covered with grass. You have done a great job-all the Leylands here are being ravaged by that disease so most folks aren’t replanting them-cryptomeria isn’t subject to whatever it is..

  24. Sandi Lee says

    P.S. Please take your time on getting the postcards back out. We will all gladly wait till you feel up to it-no reason to push yourself. You have had a rough time and deserve all the time you need to heal.

  25. Jane ~ Felham Hall says

    Susan, I think you’re really going to love these changes (if you don’t already.) I’m like you, I hate killing trees, but these were just out of control and I’m sure they made the house unnecessarily dark and dreary. And I think you made the right decision to remove the oak as well. Wow, that thing is a beast! It literally towers over the house. It would definitely be worrisome in a storm.

    We’re working on our yard as well. It’s fun! We actually had a landscape architect draw up a plan. It’s the first time we’ve ever done anything like that and so far we’re enjoying the suggestions he made. This year we lost some knock out roses on the east side of the house and I wanted to replace them with those sky blue, “all summer’s beauty” hydrangeas. I haven’t been able to find them in my area (rats) but I did get some beautiful pink, “endless summer” hydrangeas and they are doing very well. I had actually told the landscape architect that I didn’t like hydrangeas. What was I thinking? When a co-worker brought in a sprig from an all summer’s beauty bush, I had an instant change of heart. Now I’m wanting them in even more locations because they are so colorful and bloom so long.

    Ooof .. sorry. I got off on a rant, lol. We’ve never been gardening type people before so this is all very exciting for us. I hope you’ll enjoy the outcome of your project too.

  26. Peggy Thal says

    Wow! What a big difference. Your home looks larger and more beautiful. I think you will be so happy having that oak removed.(except for the cost) The long trunk just did not look good right in front of your pretty home’s portico. Do not envy all your hard work. I live in Virginia but my favorite trees are the Cherry, Magnolia(smaller size) Dogwood, Red Maple,and my most favorite the Crepe Mertel. These trees are easy to control. Susan, your home is looking so wonderful.. Thanks for sharing. It is a great before and after project.

  27. Wow, you are making some big changes- can’t wait to see the results. We have a few out of control hollies right up against our house. I know we need to at least cut them back, but ouch, they’re prickly!

  28. Wow! You have some big changes going on, Susan! It is really opening up your yard! Thanks for hosting!…hugs…Debbie

  29. Wow…quick transformation. I bet it feels so great to have that much done in the yard already. It looks great.
    Thanks so much for hosting!

  30. Your home is so lovely! I’ve lived in homes with lots of trees like that and I remember how much work it was to prune and clear out but it makes such a difference! I linked up a project while I was here, thanks for the party! πŸ™‚ xo

  31. Dear Susan, first of all thank you for letting us gather here at another Metamorphosis Monday. I grew up in the rainfortest and loved it, surrounded by large trees of exotic woods and the juicy fruits that we all see at the store. At one time we had 5 ginormous Mango trees each on of different kind and a Avocado Tree the size of a 2 story home. I loved them but my parents were extremely concerned at it falling over the back door neighbor with a tropical storm, one night , with hurricane speed winds, it did! The feeling of panic and despair we all felt thinking on the safety of our neighbors was one of the worst feelings ever…when the wind passed and we were able to go outside, and still under heavy rain, we saw that by the Grace of God our neighbors house was spared and the entire tree fell over to the side blocking the entire road. I guess what I’m trying to say is, things happen…and as much as I hate cutting magnificent trees down sometimes out of safety it needs to be done. Our tree was more than 30 years old and still producing huge avocados the size of a man’s hand. But that was nothing compared to risking our neighbor’s life. Perhaps they can recycle the wood from the trees and turning it into something useful and pretty for their loss not to be completely in vain. You must be getting all kinds of natural light now, awesome! Have a happy 4th of July! Always happy by, big hugs, Lizy

    • Thanks, Lizy! That is scary about the Avocado tree. I love avocados! The more I’ve thought about it, and I’ve been thinking about it for many years, I def do want to get it down. Thanks for the story, sounds like you grew up in a lovely place!

  32. Donnamae says

    You can see your neighbors! Your home looks so much fresher…without all the “clutter”! I think you are doing the right thing. I know it is hard to remove trees from a landscape…I’ve had to do it many times…I’ve even cried. But, look at all that light you now have…you can have some mighty fine flower beds! Can’t wait to see it all completed! πŸ˜‰

    • Light is a good thing…just wish there wasn’t so much of it in the family room now. I liked that room dark and cozy. I just titled the shutters closed more and that helped. πŸ™‚

  33. The transformation is awesome! It’s always sad to remove something in a yard that has become a staple and defines your landscape, but sometimes it’s necessary. It looks so much more inviting with the heavy foliage removed.
    I do have a question to ask…I believe you mentioned that you planted the Leland Cypress trees yourself. It appears from the photo of the stumps of those trees that the Cypress were planted on the property line or very close to it…is that correct? It also appears that not only did those trees create a dark dungeon on your side of the property, but also affected your neighbors property.
    I bring this up only because I have been on the receiving end of what my neighbors have planted very close or on our property lines. I spend hours during the growing season clipping, pruning and hauling shrubbery from my neighbors plantings that hang over the fence into my property.
    I guess my point in writing this is so homeowners and gardeners alike take into consideration the effects of what they plant close to their property lines when they live in a neighborhood. A tree or shrub that grows to 6-8 feet wide will extend 3-4 feet into someone else’s property when it’s planted on the property line.

    • They were planted on our property about 20 years ago. Take a look at the picture under the wording “Another view of the side yard…no longer the dark dungeon it was before.” See the piece of fence laying on the ground? Beside it you can see the end of the fence for my backyard. My property extends to just beyond that fence, so the trees were well within the fence in the backyard and within the property line in front.
      The family that lived there was very happy about it when we planted the trees because they didn’t like staring at our house anymore than we liked staring at theirs. They actually helped save the house from significant damage. I got a frantic call one day at work from my neighbor, she had backed out of the garage and when she got out of the car to lower the garage door, one of her children had knocked the gear shift out of “park” climbing from the front seat into the back seat while she was out of the car. The Leylands were medium size at that time, so it damaged it badly enough it had to be replaced, but it kept her car from plowing into the house. She was horrified but grateful it was there and she gladly replaced the Leyland. So over the years, we both enjoyed them until they started to look sparse from age. I’ll be putting some thing back for a sense of privacy, not sure if it will be a skinny tree or a really tall hedge.

      • It seems your Leyland’s were both enjoyed and an asset for you and your neighbor, especially when the neighbor’s car was knocked out of gear. That’s an ideal situation when something works for both neighbors.

  34. Wow Susan, this is a huge undertaking!!! I know you will have it looking gorgeous by next summer though! πŸ˜€
    Beth P

  35. Love how the front yard is taking shape. You will love the new open feeling. Can’t wait to see the results. Have a blessed “Fourth”. Ginger

  36. Thanks for hosting!

  37. We did something similar a couple of years ago. I had a Bradford Pear that was 20+ years old and the branches were very long and weak. We had seen a lot of the damage done by BP branches that had fallen into houses after a storm, so we had to chop it down. This really opened up our front yard to a new lease on life – first of all, the house wasn’t covered up anymore, and I was able to plant more full-sun plants. I do miss the shade a little bit, but I still think we did the right thing.

    It’s a nice feeling to have a pretty landscape – even thought it’s a lot of work, it will be worth it!

    • Julie, I have seen so many of those split around here, too. I found a list of “Trees You Should Not Plant in Your Yard” the other night and the Bradford Pear was on the list.

  38. Susan, it all looks wonderful. I love the way you opened up your pretty, winding sidewalk. Your house shows up so much better, and I can imagine the wonderful sunlight you are getting inside the house. What a huge project, but it is really worth all of the effort. I know that side yard is going to turn into such a special space now that you can see the side of the house. laurie

  39. I’m so excited for you. Can’t wait for all the postings of what is going on. I love to read your blog. Have fun!!!

  40. Your house is really lovely and you’ll have fun with the new space in your garden.

  41. JoyceB in Atlanta says

    Fantastic, Susan! It already looks so much better. To the lady who worried about energy costs and aesthetics of taking out the big oak, I think you mentioned that this is the north side of your house. Also, the other oak will still be there and will probably grow better without the root competition. We have a large oak that also looks like a phone pole because the leaves are above the house and all we see out our window is trunk. About 3 years ago, I planted a Japanese climbing hydrangea (Schizophragma) on the north side of the tree about 2 feet from the trunk (yup, it was hard to do!) and it made a really pretty circle around the tree base before finally beginning to grow up the trunk this year. This variety grows flatter against the tree for when the wind blows. I once was also ready to cut down an overgrown camellia near our back door when the people helping me suggested moving it to the end of the existing camellia hedge in the backyard. It did so well and blooms every winter. Our camellias want to become trees. They have evergreen leaves to the ground and grow very tall very fast! Like azaleas, they are easy to move even when large because of the shallow roots. Consider using your camellia to help with screening. As to the magnolia, it can be pruned and layered very effectively to open it up and bring down the size. They grow more like shrubs than like trees that have a single leader. I love your beautiful maple. We had one moved about 7 years ago very successfully. Just remember to water the dickens out of it the first 2 years after moving it. Don’t rush things – except the screening. Take your time and enjoy the process. Call nurseries and see if you can get large plants of the new variety of Little Gem Magnolia called Kay Parris for your side yard. It supposedly grows much faster. Also check out Bracken’s Brown Beauty. Add light to the area with Wolf Eyes Kousa Dogwood. if you prefer yellow tones, try a lime redbud tree. For burgundy tones, the most beautiful I grow is Forest Pansy redbud. It is even better than the red Japanese Maples. Think of when you actually use your porch and don’t worry too much about having only evergreens. Lots of fine branches are great for screening, too.

    • Yep, it’s the north, so it shouldn’t make much difference. I think the other oak will do better, as well, especially without the Leylands competing right beside it. Joyce, did I describe it that way before because you just said the exact same thing I’ve always said about that tree? lol So funny to hear you describe it that way because that’s how it feels! When you look out the windows, it’s like starring at a telephone pole in the front yard…does nothing for the aesthetics inside or out. It’s only really pretty if you stand at the road and stare up at it, otherwise it’s just a giant trunk with all the appeal of a telephone pole.
      I wonder if I can have that camellia moved…would love to do that! I don’t know if it would survive, it’s so big! It realllllly does want to be a tree! Thanks for all these suggestions…will check into those that you’ve mentioned. I will not limb up the magnolia (hate to see that done to magnolias) but want to have it properly pruned as you mentioned. I kind of know how to do that, but there’s no way I can reach the upper branches. I have to find the right person to do it so they don’t ruin it. Thanks, Joyce!

  42. WOW, what a difference. Isn’t light wonderful. It makes the whole world more cheerful.This coming from the often overcast Pacific NW. Your house can breathe now. As for your magnolia, please consider calling an certified arborist as you decide what to do with this beautiful tree. Because this speciality is the care of trees and shrubs an arborist will know how to prune and thin the canopy if needed. He/she will also know how to keep the tree healthy.
    Also, while we miss Postcards, please take as much time as you need as your grieve. We all understand.

    • I will Nancy, just have to figure out who to call. One of the landscapers I talked to shared the proper way to prune those so I know it need to be done a certain way. I definitely will not be limbing it up. It should never have been planted so close to the house, but I love it and want to keep it. Thanks, appreciate that so much!

  43. Rattlebridge Farm says

    Susan, I’ve been doing the same thing–and plan to keep whittling away. Your yard is so sunny, and I’m sure your indoor rooms are brighter, too. Love what you’ve done! I’ll look forward to the updates.

  44. Love the new look can’t wait to see how it looks with the camellia moved and the large tree gone from the front, so exciting to see the full the way you are actually making the house work for you, low maintance is the word of the day and anything you can do to make the job easier is perfect…more time for travel and enjoying…

  45. Instead of taking the tree down and killing it, is there a way you could have it removed-root ball and all-and sell it to someone who WANTS a huge tree like that? We had to remove a weeping birch b/c it had a terrible disease, but if your tree is healthy, you might be able to sell it to a tree farm.

    You also have the opportunity to create an area in your front yard that could skip the ubiquitous lawn/etc. sod lawn and do a much more natural xeriscape that would be easier to maintain and help the environment. Just a thought…

  46. Christine says

    My sister hated all the trees around her house. Her hubby wanted to keep them but when he left for a fishing trip she had them removed ha and boy does it look nice! She can show off all her flowers beds now.
    Your yard and house are and will beeven lovelier!

  47. Thanks so much for hosting….love your party each week!!! Christine from Little Brags

  48. I love your yard ”opened up”. You can see all of your house and I do love all the light that will come into your windows. I too have a big ”acorn” tree. Very large, almost as tall as yours in our front yard. We have thought of cutting it down or cutting it back and taking all of the dead wood out of it. I do like the shade but the storms here in Indiana can be bad . Cant wait to see what all you choose to put back in the yard, thats the fun part. Take care of yourself and ”thanks” for the advice on those nasty Beetle bugs, we sprayed them and so far they are gone.

  49. Carolyn Price says

    The changes are terrific, Susan! I’m a tree-lover, too, and I involuntarily lost a tear down my cheek when one little 4-inch diameter tree had to be removed to accommodate a new fire pit installation in our backyard. But time marches on and Removal Happens!! : )
    Theresa Caputo, the Long Island Medium, would probably say the golden orb in the photo is “spirit.” It could very easily be the spirit of the river birch hanging around awhile just to see how things progress! Or, perhaps, spirit is waiting for its “trunk” … to depart on the next train?!

  50. Wow! It looks fabulous! I cannot wait to see more.

  51. Susan, it’s going to be beautiful. As I looked through your pics, I thought, ” that big oak tree is really center front of her house.” So glad you’re taking it down. I just didn’t want to be the one to suggest it

    A few months ago we removed ninteen pines beside our driveway and had all the stumps ground. You can’t imagine the layer of pinewood chips that covered the area. We hired two fellows to hand rake it and it was a big improvement but some still remain. Ask your workers if they can remove some of the chips for you in places where you have a heavy layer. They may have a tool for raking that will attach to a tractor.

  52. Betty819 says

    I can relate with you about the overgrown Holly Tree/bush. When we moved here 8 years ago, there was a Holly tree/bush in the front yard. Don’t know when it was planted but these houses were built in 1977 and there was only 2 previous owners before us. We couldn’t even see the street from our living room window for that blasted holly tree/bush. I contacted our landscaping contractor and asked how much they would charge to take it down and grind up the stump. They gave us a very reasonable price, and knowing the cost of tree removal in this area, I agreed with the price quote and quckly said “Where do I sign?” Wanted to sign the request before he realized he had low balled the price and changed his mind. I agree with you about the Camelia bush..what’s the other large tree near your driveway, close to where the River Birch was located?
    You’ll be happy you started this project and it will make you feel better too and maybe make neighbors happy too! Looking forward to the new renovation process.

    • Thanks, Betty! That’s a Southern Magnolia, Grandiflora. It’s in a bad spot and I’m going to have a professional do a little select pruning but it will be staying. I use it in decorating a good bit, especially at Christmas.

  53. Wow, Susan! What a difference it made removing the trees! What a gorgeous property you have.

  54. Wow! I prefer to see your house opened, Susan. This is more spacious and in a way clean. Why cover the beautiful house, huh? This is more like it.

    Great job and I can’t wait to see your project in full bloom.

    TY for sharing (as always) and I appreciate it for my Inspiration lists Β§:-)

    Take care,
    /CC girl

  55. OMG Susan !!! I am absolutely speechless !! What an awesome house you have and what an amazing effect the entire transformation has got about !! Brilliant !! An absolute dream to live in a place as beautiful as that.
    Lots of love from sunny Dubai

  56. Great job editing your landscape, Susan. Sometimes we just need to remove overgrown trees and shrubs especially if it is something in the wrong spot. You’ll be amazed at how new your house will look. I always say, when you take something out, that just creates an opportunity. Can’t wait for every post on this project!

    • I am shocked by the changes already. I guess the overgrowth sneaks up on us since it’s so gradual, a few inches at the time. Definitely time for some changes around here. Thanks, Marsha…I’m sure they’ll be lots more post…so much to do!

  57. LOVE seeing the progress on your transformation! So. Much.Better already!

  58. Susan, my wife and I religiously follow your site. We are preparing to remove three old growth pines in our back yard. It kills us to remove them, but they are over 60 feet tall and we fear they will fall into the house. It is not an inexpensive process… But is worth it. We had three trees removed last year and now it’s time for the old pines. Your project is looking great. Beautiful home!

    • Thanks so much, Frank. I’m getting excited about transforming this yard! πŸ™‚ Pines are known for going over during storms so I’m sure you are doing the right thing. I know you’ll sleep better knowing they are gone.

  59. What a metamorphosis, Susan!! I’m sure this is a much-needed project/distraction for you right now. I’ve been away from blogging for a while, and just found the sad news about Max. I was so sorry to read that; I’m truly sorry for the loss that represents to you. Thank you for carrying on and hosting. My best, ~Zuni

  60. Your yard is coming along. It will be fun to see the final reveal. Love you home! Blessings, Patti@OldThingsNew

  61. I guess you don’t live in the city of Atlanta. The city arborist has to approve all tree removals and it is very hard to get approval to remove a healthy tree even though it is close to the house. Good luck.

  62. Elizabeth Jane says

    I am glad you made the decision to take down the tree. We’ve just removed over thirty trees around our home situated on the slope of a mountain. While I am also a tree lover and it was difficult to do, having the trees taken down has been one of the most “freeing” experiences I’ve had. To let the sun shine in and not worry about the tall huge trees hovering around the house and swaying toward us while taking the dog out during windstorms is wonderful!!! Yay for you. Your decision took a lot of courage.

    • Thanks Elizabeth. It wasn’t an easy one because I too love trees. I asked my tree guy today why the limbs all go outward at the top. He said that it has a fork at the top and that’s why they go out like that. That worries me because I really don’t want one of those falling on the house, either. The other oak in the front yard doesn’t do that, I think because it was a much smaller tree and grew up not being crowed out by other trees. I feel a lot better about it. My tree guys also told me this morning that a tree standing alone like that is more susceptible to coming down in winds than when trees are all together. I know you are enjoying all that great sunshine! πŸ™‚

  63. Looks great!…Really opens up the front…Your home is Beautiful!..Can’t wait to see the rest of the transformation!!


  65. Lois from PA says

    It looks great! I know all too well about oak trees – Our house in NJ was surrounded by sixty foot oaks on all sides! I worried with every storm. The house looks happier too! can’t wait to see it finished! Also, never noticed your front portico roof! Love it!

  66. Hi Susan…. love the transformations already!! It’s going to be such fun over the next year or so watching it all change into your dream landscape. And I am soooo glad you are having the oak taken down. I had replied on another post you did about this, with the suggestion to maybe try to keep the trunk and have it cut into boards for you to keep and use. Imagine making a table or shelves with solid oak from that tree… and then the tree would not go down in vain – but simply be re-purposed and birthed into something new. Have you seen the photo going around facebook of pathways made out of slices of tree trunks… those look great too.

    It’s your tree…. so my thought is don’t give away all that valuable wood that can come from it. Does oak make good firewood or wood for bbq or smokers? All kinds of possibilities for giving that tree a new life. Maybe a craftsperson can turn chunks of it into exquisite works of art even. Maybe find out the best sized pieces to have it cut into for re-selling to an artist or furniture maker etc. Maybe someone remodeling a home would love to have some solid oak wood for trim or stairs or cabinets. The possibilities are endless. If you have time to consider it that is… ?

    Thank you for sharing it all with us!

  67. Nancy B. says

    Hi Susan, Just wondering .. do you have to have permits to remove your trees? I live in CA and we added an addition to our home a few years ago and had to remove a couple of trees. We had to have an arborist come out and tag all of our trees and we have many. They now all proudly wear tree tags and if we wanted to, which we don’t, we would have to get a permit before removing more. Also wondering if you can have your tree guy relocate your camilla? It is fun to see your home and must be nice for you to actually be able to see it too!

    • No, you can cut down whatever you need to here, no restrictions where I live. I asked a landscaper about moving the camellia, and they didn’t think it was a good idea, seemed to think it was better to plant another one. I’m going to asked another landscaper though. Yeah, it has just slowly gotten buried in the 22 years I’ve been here.

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