Monday, April 20, 2009

The Secret Life of Trees

A friend of my mother’s is a semi-retired landscape designer. We asked her for some tips on what might work well in our backyard, and to sufficiently answer the question, she had us fill out surveys and cut out pictures from magazines we liked, and she came over and took pictures of our yard. Several weeks later we received a bill, and a beautifully laid out plan for our backyard, one that, if followed, will help take us out of the Nevada desert and into a lush Oregon-feeling haven.

We decided we’re going to stick to the plan as much as possible, and in order to actually allow something to grow in our dog infested backyard, we had to start with the big stuff they can’t just trample all over. The trees.

Anyone who has ever lived in Nevada knows that you actually have to pay for good dirt. Since our first batch of compost isn’t quite ready, we’re adding in some purchased tree/shrub soil with the existing soil, which is a highly generous term for what is currently in our backyard. At one point, Greg had to pull out his drill and accoutrements to break apart the hard clay. No joke.

Some of the locations were slightly easier than others, but there were big rocks and construction debris to be found there:


Teenage sons definitely come in handy during working weekends such as these, and Jacob was such an amazing sport about it. OK, it helped that the day before he and I played racquetball, and I told him that for every time he hit me with the ball, he had to plant a tree. After a hit to the face and a hit to the knee, he owed us the planting of two trees! Yay! If it didn’t hurt so much, I would have considered some kamikaze moves to up that number.


Occasionally during excavation, Greg would find a worm, and the kids thought it was a holiday. They were so excited, and so were we to think there were actual places in our yard where a worm could survive. As is the way with our children, you show them one worm, they want another. And another. And another. It became so distracting to our tree digger, that I promised them we’d go get worms from the store tomorrow just to get them off of the hunt and Greg back to digging. So, the next day we actually bought fishing worms for the kids to play with. Hey, it’s cheap entertainment! And if they didn’t die from the handling by a 5 year old or a 3 year old, they’d actually do our yard good.


Late afternoon on Saturday, I ran to The Home Depot for some fertilizer and came home with two more trees. I honestly thought Greg was going to hand me the shovel AND divorce papers. But being the awesome and amazing guy he is, he just smiled and said a few things under his breath that I couldn’t quite make out. Lovely things, I am certain.

After a long, tiring, and physically exhausting weekend, all but one tree was planted. That makes the total of 11 new trees to our landscaping, one existing tree dug out and discarded due to rotted roots, and two existing trees dug up and relocated. Now all together, repeat after me, “Greg is SUCH A MAN! GRRRRRRRR”

With two rambunctious dogs, two equally rambunctious and curious kids, and the awful Nevada “soil” we have, I just hope the trees survive! Keep your green thumbs crossed for us? Yes, please.


  1. Good Lord that looks like it was a lot of work. Nice job w/ the drill Greg :)

  2. Do we get to see photos of the finished yard?